A Look at the Role of Casting Directors and Advice for Becoming One

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It may come as a surprise to learn exactly what a casting director is responsible for. Of course, they help gather a number of actor candidates for a given role in a film, television production or other theatrical production, but there's more. A casting director also reads the script and meets with the producer, director and sometimes the writer, to get an idea of the "type" of person a given role calls for.

Once this is determined, then the casting director gets to work. As a casting director, you'll meet with any number of individuals and begin to narrow down the field in order to select the best candidates. Once a handful of hopefuls have been identified, your job is to present them to the director, producer, and often writer, of the project.

Casting directors meet with thousands of actors over the course of a given year, not to mention a lifetime. They must determine whether an actor fits the look of a character as well as whether or not that particular actor would be believable in the role they will be cast for.

Skills Required

To become a casting director, you must first have the following skills:

  • Eye for Talent: A good casting director can tell right off the bat whether or not a given actor "has the chops" for the role they are auditioning for. This is usually an innate skill but can be fine-tuned and developed over time.
  • Good Memory: You will see thousands upon thousands of actors over the lifetime of your career so a good casting director must have a way of remembering the ones that matter. Even if you pride yourself on having a good memory, err on the side of caution and keep a library of index cards (including photos) with a profile of all candidates you've met and worked with.
  • Patience: It often takes a lot of time to find exactly the right person for a role, so you must exercise patience and not let yourself be pressured into making the wrong decision out of haste. Your reputation is on the line with every actor you cast.

The Importance of Casting in a Production

While final casting decisions are ultimately made by the client (i.e., producers, directors, and commercial clients) the focus offered to the production and choice of talent is guided by the professional casting director. Casting shapes the initial pre-production of just about any project. Ultimately, it is key to the success of any theatrical undertaking.

Career Advice

The best way to prepare for this position is to start learning as much as you can about available actors and actresses. It's crucial to know their names and faces so that you become a library of casting information. If you need to get your foot in the door, look for casting directors that might be looking to hire a casting associate or even a production assistant. This is an industry where people start at the bottom and work their way up. This is also a highly competitive industry so don't be shy about your career aspirations. Let everyone you work for know that your goal to become a casting director.

 

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