It often feels like Casting Directors are unapproachable, like the great and powerful Oz. True, many of them have limited accessibility; most of the time they’re working their asses off, dawn to midnight. Or they’re taking a few well-deserved precious hours to be with their families. Or… they’re out there hustling for a job just like you. But what we really want you to remember about Casting Directors is this: a) They ARE working their asses off, b) They’re in an often under-appreciated job, c) They need you, and d) They’re human.
a. You may not realize the extent of the work that happens in a casting office these days. With growing technology and the speed that comes with it, the workload has doubled, without extra staff provided or paid to do that work. Casting teams are asked to be accessible day and night and weekends, sometimes for months and months on a project. On top of everything, they’re often on the receiving end of a particularly demanding or even intractable filmmaker, show creator, executive, agent, or manager. With so many projects vying to be noticed, the pressure of finding an actor who will make or break a show or film has intensified. The demands of the job are greater than ever.
b. Rarely do Casting Directors get the appreciation, credit, or compensation they deserve. Sometimes the best casting is invisible. In the filmmaking process, casting mustn’t detract from the overall storytelling. In that, great casting seems inevitable, even indiscernible. And it’s often overlooked. Casting is usually finished before rehearsals begin or the cameras roll. So it can be forgotten. Rarely do Casting Directors hear: “Thank you so much for your tireless work and talent.” Rarely are they thanked at award events when publicists and high school mentors are high on the recognition list. Many Industry folk- including people who work with CDs all the time- don’t really know what a Casting Director even does and certainly rarely think of Casting Directors as artists or talent. There are still no Oscars for Casting; the Television Academy is finally (finally!) handing out Casting Emmys. Casting Directors have to find gratification in knowing that their work is exemplary- without big kudos- satisfied that they get to do something extraordinary in connecting talented actors with roles every day. And that gives them the greatest satisfaction in the world.
c. Casting Directors cannot do their best work without your best work. They need you to show up fully so that they can champion you. They are NOT higher on any industry food chain; they are not gatekeepers. They are fellow travelers, committed to serving the work. Which they take very seriously. So you MUST meet them in the audition room and in the pursuit of your career as collaborators and fellow professionals. If you make yourself small, they can’t see you and certainly cannot champion you. They all want your very best work; they don’t always have the time or the energy to help you get there. But they love actors. They love finding new actors and putting wonderfully talented actors just like you into equally wonderful parts, especially in surprising ways. They love to discover talent, support and promote it. But you have to show up. And you have to engage with Casting Directors as your creative partners. It’s the only way this works.
d. Casting Directors are people too. They have lives, needs, feelings, and limitations. While they’re expected to be- and always expect themselves to be- superhuman, they can only do so much in a given day. They’re challenged by a constant ticking clock, challenged by troops of producers and studio/network executives who often cannot agree on anything, challenged in seeing hundreds of actors in the audition process each week (many who show up scared and anxious, expecting to be taken care of or worse, to fail), and challenged by having to wrestle with agents and managers to get a newly ripe actor to read a script or audition, while handling the onslaught of (often illogical) submissions. So much of their time is spent managing personalities, wrestling with technology, and putting out fires. Things they do extremely well, but also things that keep them from the work they really love: collaborating with you.
Here’s what you, the actor, can do. You can do your work. You can show up for your audition prepared, game on, and ready to work. You can offer your talent to a Casting Director or associate with generosity: “I got this, let’s work.” You can show compassion when a casting assistant is nervous, a casting associate is overworked, an office is behind schedule for any one of a dozen good reasons that have nothing to do with you. You can remember that casting folk are an unsung, hardworking, devoted clan of artists, needing you to do your job so that they can do theirs.
You can show up with artistic leadership, ferociously loving the work, offering your talent magnanimously, and allowing yourself (and therefore everyone else) to forget that an actor has to be chosen. You can appreciate that Casting Directors will be heroic on your behalf if you give them your best. If you can meet them in the work as fellow artists and professionals, all in this wild dance together. If you do championship work in a collaborative spirit, every Casting Director will cheer you on, advocate for you, and become your biggest fan. It’s why they do this; it’s what they live for.
Join us at The BGB Studio to practice, to collaborate, to celebrate the work, together. BGB Class is in Session.