Casting Directors organise and facilitate the casting of actors for all the roles in a film. This involves working closely with the Director and Producer to understand their requirements, and suggesting ideal artists for each role, as well as arranging and conducting interviews and auditions. Once the parts are cast, the Casting Director negotiates fees and contracts for the actors, and acts as a liaison between the Director, the actors and their agents.
Casting Directors must have an extensive knowledge of actors and their suitability for a particular role. On larger productions, Casting Directors may supervise Casting Assistants, who will support and assist them in this work.
What is the job?
In pre-production, Casting Directors must liaise with both the Director and the Producer, who rely on the Casting Director to assist them to assemble the perfect cast for the film. Consequently, Casting Directors must have in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of new and existing acting talent. They are responsible for matching the ideal actor to each role, based on a number of factors, such as the actor's experience, ability, reputation, availability and box-office appeal. Casting Directors also work closely with Production Accountants to prepare the casting budget.
Casting Directors organise and conduct interviews and auditions for each part, and are also in charge of offering each actor an appropriate fee to appear in the film, as well as drawing up and negotiating the terms and conditions of contracts with agents, once casting is complete. Casting Directors need a vast knowledge of a huge range of actors, and an extensive understanding of their abilities, as well as a thorough appreciation of changing talent trends within the film industry. This requires a strong instinct for acting talent, and great dedication and commitment. A deep passion for the craft of acting is essential. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are vital in order to liaise with a range of people, including other production staff, talent agents, and the actors themselves.
Negotiation and organisational skills are also invaluable for agreeing actors' fees, and arranging the terms and conditions of their contracts. In order to cast the ideal actor for a key role in a film, Directors and Producers have to be highly selective, and may be extremely demanding, so it is vital that Casting Directors are patient, hard-working and diplomatic at all times.
Essential knowledge and skills
Casting Directors must have a wide knowledge of cinema and actors. An interest in the theatre and stage actors is also a prerequisite. A basic understanding of how to operate a video camera (framing, focus, etc.) is also an advantage. Casting Directors must be computer literate.
Key Skills include:
- excellent communication skills;
- ability to recognise talent;
- a good memory;
- excellent organisational skills;
- Precise attention to detail;
- ability to take and give direction;
- knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures
Training and qualifications
Although there are no specific training or qualifications for this role, Casting Directors are usually graduates of Arts, English, Film, Theatre, Communications, or Media Studies, etc., with an active interest in film, theatre and casting. Practical industry experience is vital. An ideal place to start is at an entry-level position as an assistant in a talent agency, as experience of selecting and working with actors is essential. This allows potential Casting Directors to begin amassing knowledge about existing and new talent.
Working as an assistant to an established Casting Director is also an effective way to acquire the necessary skills and experience. Any experience working with actors in amateur theatre, or in film production environments, is considered useful for such entry-level positions.
Individual course accreditation in certain subject areas is currently being piloted. As part of Creative Skillset's and the UK Film Council's Film Skills Strategy, A Bigger Future, a network of Screen Academies and a Film Business Academy have been approved as centres of excellence in education and training for film.
Where to go for more information
Creative Skillset is the Creative Industries' Sector Skills Council. The first sources of information for all jobs in the industry are the National Occupational Standards. Browse Creative Skillset's website for links to our network of training partners, information about training and access to the comprehensive Creative Skillset/BFI course database. Finally, Creative Skillset Careers is UK's creative careers advice service; for detailed careers information and advice, visit www.creativeskillset.org/careers.
- Spotlight , the main casting resource that publishes a number of specialists cast directories and features casting-related information
- Internet Movie Data Base (IMBD) gives full cast lists for all films, plus names of Casting Directors
- The Stage , the newspaper for performing arts industries
- Screen International, published weekly by Screen Daily also offers an on-line news service
- Variety , a weekly publication for the film, television, music and interactive entertainment industries
- Sight and Sound, publication available through the BFI website;
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