Inside The World Of A Casting Director ~ Part 2 of 3

By Marci Liroff

In Part 2 of this series I talk about how I make lists for projects along with how to start working in a Casting Director’s office.

“What does a Casting Director actually do?” Well, I’m here to tell you all about it! Joy Wingard wrote to me from college saying she’s interested in being a casting director and wanted to know what really goes on in the world of casting.  Since I was crazy busy, I asked her to jot down a few questions and I’d answer them over the ensuing weeks.  She asked quite a few insightful questions that I wanted to share with you all.

Q: I’ve heard that CDs spend a lot of time going through their rolodex/files and looking for the right fit.  Do you find that you get to embrace the auditioning process often – or is it more of seeking the fit you know will already work?  

A: Rolodex and files are “old school”.  Everything I do these days is electronic.  I have a database of ALL the actors I know and like + everyone I’ve ever auditioned. I use Cast It for my database. Did you know that if you subscribe to Cast It Talent you get embedded in my database and ALL the major CDs around the world?

When I make my initial lists after reading the script and talking to the filmmakers about their vision and our marketing needs, I go through my database and put together a “wish list” of who would be great.  Some of them are out of reach based on budget, or they wouldn’t do said role, or are unavailable.  I also add to this list my ideas that are not exactly what the script calls for or what the director is looking for but is “outside the box” and creative which can sometimes really juice up the story by casting against type.  Then I confer with the agents and managers and get their pitches and add the appropriate people to the list. This giant list gets narrowed down based on our choices, the actor’s availability and $$.
If it’s a “name” list, we narrow it down to a much smaller list and start making offers.
If it’s a role that we want people to come in and audition for, thus starts the process and we are open and excited to see what people bring to the role.  A filmmaker I know once said, “I like it when an actor comes in and shows me something I didn’t know about the character.”  I think that says it all.

Q:  Do you feel it’s mandatory to start as an intern – or do you think it’s possible to get an assistant job if you’ve had some solid industry experience already (even if it isn’t in casting for film or scripted/episodic TV?)

A: For me, I wouldn’t hire someone as a casting assistant unless they’ve had AT LEAST 1-2 YEARS actual casting experience in SCRIPTED television or films.  Things move way too fast for me to train/teach someone. Once they are on board though, I train and teach them everyday.

Several successful casting directors out there today started as my intern (Tammy Billik, Janet Gilmore)

Do you have any questions for me? Feel free to ask them here!

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