Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Inside The World Of A Casting Director - Part 3




In Part 3 of this series I talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of being a casting director along with finding balance in your life. Good advice for all walks of life!

"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: What do you enjoy the most & the least about being a CD?

A: The most?  Getting a script and lovingly working with the filmmakers to put together a fantastic cast.  Finding someone new, or thinking of someone for a part that is totally outside the box and getting my team on board and hiring them.
Making the call to the agent/mgr and actor to say "you've got the part!" brings me such joy!
Another part I truly love is working with the actors. I love to help them create a great character and guiding them through the audition process.

Enjoy the least?  The politics.  There are way too many politics involved in my job. Enough said.

Also, it's not my favorite thing to negotiate with a lawyer. In the old days (when I first started) I'd negotiate with the agent. Nowadays, the agent hands it off to the client's lawyer and I'm spending days on end going back and forth with the lawyer. Seems to me that's Business Affairs' job.

Q:  I understand having passion for a job and loving it enough to embrace it wholeheartedly and spend most of your time doing it, but do you find that you're able to have enough time away from the job to embrace a life outside of work?

A: Finding a balance between work and your "life" is key to any career.  For me, even when I'm not officially working, I keep my eyes peeled - I'm always 'looking' in a sense.  When I'm reading a magazine, the newspaper or online, I'm constantly clipping out (or bookmarking) articles about actors on the rise and adding them to my database.

But, you do have to know how to totally "unplug" and live your life or you will be just a shell of a person!  This holds true for an actor.  Whenever I meet an actor who feels burnt out or wants to walk away, I tell them to make sure to do something you love.  You need inspiration from somewhere right?  Go to the beach, a concert, kick up your heels and go dancing, paint, be with your kids, dogs, loved ones, cook, eat great food, meditate. How can you be an actor (or a great person) if you're not living a full life?

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

Want more tips and general thoughts on life? Be sure to bookmark my blog and follow me here!

We welcome your comments and suggestions.

Glad you're here!
Marci



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

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



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!


Want more tips and general thoughts on life? Be sure to bookmark my blog and follow me here!

We welcome your comments and suggestions.

Glad you're here!
Marci


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Inside the World of a Casting Director - 3 Part Series



People always ask me, "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 casting for films is a lot of budgets, negotiating, and handling contracts.  Do you feel the position is mostly business or is there an equally creative side to it?  How about for a Casting Associate?

A: It is the CDs job to (sometimes) put together the casting budget.  It is sometimes done by the line producer, but they want our input (i.e. how much do you think it'll cost to get a good actor in this part).  The CD negotiates all the actor deals (not the extras).  It differs from studio to studio, but some studios have the CD negotiate everything up to a Schedule F deal ($65,000 and under) and Business Affairs does the deals higher than Sched. F, and Warner Bros has the CD negotiate everything up to $250k.  The CD (and associate) need to know how to read a Day out of Days (the shooting schedule) and formulate a deal.  In television the deals are standard.  Business affairs negotiates the test deals for pilots and series deals, thank the good lord. There's so much to do on a pilot, at least we don't have the added pressure and time-suck of having to negotiate and paper (do the contracts) for all the test deals and series regular deals. The CD does the weekly/daily deals on the series, but like I said it's a standard "top-of-show" formula for guest stars and SAG-AFTRA scale for co-stars.

The creative side comes in when you are assembling the cast and coming up with ideas in terms of putting together the perfect ensemble.  I try to think of creative ideas that are unexpected and outside the box.  There is a LOT of psychology involved in handling the large groups of the creative team (producers/writer/director/executives at the studio).  You want them to hire "your guy" and you have to get them to feel that it was their idea in the first place! The CD is part of the team that makes the final decision on who gets cast.  It is ultimately up to the head of the studio/network to approve our choices.  The CD is an invaluable part of this decision making process.

Some jobs are more creative than others.  Some jobs you feel like you are just a glorified taping facility. I try and stay away from those situations! Depends on what you're working on and who you're working with!

Q: This pertains a bit to the prior question, but what is a typical day like for you - and for a Casting Associate?

A: ME when casting a pilot:
Up at 6am. Read and answer as many emails as I can that came in throughout the night and early morning. Remember, we're a global casting community now. Submissions are coming in from everywhere around the world via the internet. Check submissions on Breakdown. View TONS of demo reels and self-taped auditions. Return calls. Exercise (very important) and walk the dogs.
9am-10am - get to the office and continue the above.  Check-in w/producers/director/network execs and answer questions and get answers to questions! Pre-reads and general meetings for upcoming auditions.
Sessions w/producers for several hours. Return calls/emails throughout. View MORE demos and auditions. Negotiate deals. Go over the budget. Meet with producers. Talk to studio execs and network execs.  Keep everybody informed and on the same page.  Go over more submissions. Try to be creative and come up with people to flesh out the cast.  LUNCH - usually in the office - working lunch trying to catch up.  Afternoon - more of the above.  Leave work around 7or 7:30.  Come home, walk the dogs, make dinner, return calls/view submissions/demos/return email while eating dinner until 11pm go to bed.  6am...wake up, rinse/wash/repeat.

Associate: get into office 9am, check messages, return calls/emails.  View demos and auditions.  Upload anything that wasn't uploaded last night to our website so the team can weigh in. Go thru submissions.  Schedule auditions.  Check avails. Check $$ quotes to give to biz affairs so they can negotiate series test deals. Fill out test deal forms for biz affairs. Maintain and update master lists on ALL roles (meaning who we've seen, who we're thinking of, who we're getting tape on, who's pre-read....and ALL their avails. This is an incredibly tedious process and must be kept up-to-date for the studio/network.).  Field calls all day long.  Take agent/mgr pitches.  Schedule Marci's pre-reads and general meetings.  Negotiate co-star & guest star deals.  Videotape auditions, edit, and upload them.  Working lunch and catch-up. Clearing actors w/front gate to get drive-ons. Go over submissions w/Marci and pick who's coming in to our next session.  Brainstorm new ideas.  Leave around 8-9 pm.

As you can imagine, trying to be creative during this process - not easy! I think it's nothing short of a miracle to get a brilliant cast during pilot season. Imagine that there are probably 60 other pilots all trying to get the best actors for their show simultaneously. It's like a giant race trying to get the actor you want into your office before the other guy gets him!

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

Want more tips and general thoughts on life? Be sure to bookmark my blog and follow me here!

We welcome your comments and suggestions.

Glad you're here!
Marci