What Does A Casting Director Actually DO?

How To Book Acting Jobs in TV and Film Book Cover

2014 marks the 20th Year I’ve been in the trenches of casting, which is unbelievable to me.  In some ways being a casting director is a dream job.  I’ve always loved actors because as a child, good film, TV, and theater helped get me through very difficult times (the loss of a parent).  In some ways, it’s not a great job because it’s incredibly stressful and requires an exceptional amount of stamina.

When I started casting in TV and film, the job description for a Casting Director was basically “must love and know actors. TV and film watching from an early age a plus. Great organizational skills and good with people.”  

Today, this job description is typical: “Someone who is highly efficient, with both Casting Associate skills and office management and administrative skills; someone who is a speedy and efficient multi-tasker, extremely detail oriented, an expert speller, extremely organized, and fun. Duties include (but are not limited to) making lists, running sessions, creating budgets, managing all projects (both in development and production), maintaining avail grids, creating picture boards, editing video, managing video database, and the overall management of the entire casting department. We need someone who is willing to work long hours. Must be a MAC user. Must have expert skills in the following computer programs: Microsoft Word, Excel, iMovie, iDVD, Cast It, and Breakdown Express. Knowledge of Outlook and PowerPoint a big plus.”  

And just like actor rates of pay have decreased, so have ours.  Unless one is lucky enough to work in Network TV, which I was fortunate to do for ten years, it’s getting harder and harder to make a living just casting.

I’m not complaining, I’m just saying show some compassion toward us by doing a great job when you audition. (Read this book if you want more details and how to do that.)

Below, find a list of the tasks of a casting director, and why we don’t often have time to provide feedback (which I know you’re all dying for):

 Negotiate CD Deal

Create Deal Memo and Send W-9 Paperwork

Read the Script

Aid in Deciding When Auditions will Take Place

Accumulate All Info for Breakdown

Book Casting Space

Create the Breakdown

Aid in Deciding Sides for Auditions

Post the Breakdown on BS, AA, Backstage

Make Lists of Actors I Know to Bring In

Monitor the Submissions from BS, AA, Backstage

Monitor and Answer emails and phone calls 

Go Through Submissions and Choose the Best for the Job

Watch Demo Reels

Decide Who Will Come In 

Organize the Sessions

Call Out the Appointments

Make Sure Each Auditioner has Material and Directions to Session

Revise the Appointments as Schedules Change (for the actors and producer/director)

Create the Session Sheets

Confirm All Actors Called In

Revise the Session Sheets as Actors Pass or “Fall Out”

Confer with Director/Producer Re: Casting Ideas

Forward Demo Reels to Director/Producer of Those Actors NA for Auditions

Arrive Early and Set Up First Casting Session (includes camera, tri-pod, monitor if necessary)

Run First Casting Session (Pair up actors, bring in order of sign in, etc.)

“Tape” All Auditions if Required

“Read” With Actors If Necessary

When Session is Complete, Confer with Producer/Director Top Picks

Decide to have Additional Session or just Callbacks

Dismantle the Casting Studio/Room

Inform Top Picks of their Status

Return emails and phone calls related to the session

Convert Video Footage from Camera to iMovie

Edit Video Footage (Just  Top Picks or Everyone?)

Upload Video Footage to WebSite (Private YouTube? Cast It?)

Share Link with Producer/Director

Prep 2nd Casting Session if Applicable

Repeat All Tasks Related to Casting Session if Applicable for 2nd

Prepare Callback Session

Create Callback Session Sheet

Confirm Casting Studio for Callbacks

Confirm Actors for Callback Session

Reconfirm with all Top Picks on Availability of Dates of Job

Provide Callback Material to all Top Picks

Send Full Script to Top Picks if Required

Revise Callback Session Sheet as Changes Occur

Arrive Early to Callback Session to Set Up (includes camera, tri-pod, monitor if necessary)

Run Callback Casting Session (Pair up actors, bring in order of sign in, etc.)

“Tape” All Auditions if Required

“Read” With Actors If Necessary

When Session is Complete, Confer with Producer/Director Bookings

Dismantle the Casting Studio/Room

Put Actors ON HOLD

Return emails and phone calls related to the session

Convert Video Footage from Camera to iMovie

Edit Video Footage (just Bookings or Everyone?)

Upload Video Footage to WebSite (Private YouTube? Cast It?)

Share Link with Producer/Director and Client if applicable

Wait for Client Approval, if applicable

Once Final Approvals Arrive, Offer Each Actor Respective Roles

(If client does not approve of all the actors chosen, start process over for roles not yet cast.)

Negotiate with Agents/Managers if Actor has Representation

Liaison between Agents/Managers and Producer/Client

Close All Deals

Create Deal Memos for All Talent

Complete Deal Memos for All Talent (must include actor personal info)

Make Sure all Talent and/or Agents/Managers Sign the Deal Memos

Forward Completed Deal Memos to Agents/Managers and Production

Clear Actors with SAG-AFTRA if applicable

Create Cast List if required

Contract Admin if required

(Provide Feedback if Time)

Remove Uploaded Videos from Website

Invoice Job

Monitor Payment of Job

If Job not Paid within 30 days, Contact Producer

 

Additional Tasks if Applicable

Hire Understudies

 

Hire Replacements if An Actor has an undisclosed conflict or is fired while on the job

 

Author: Will

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