What is the typical life of a casting agent like? An agent
looks for talent within the hundreds of people who answer casting calls,
and on a typical day, casting talent involves managing a flood of phone
calls from production companies and agents.
It isn’t as glamorous as some might think. Imagine a room in
which casting directors juggle resumes, headshots and dozens of phone
conversations all at once—with a flood of new mail arriving daily.
The taping rooms are usually minimally decorated. Aside from camera,
electronic equipment and lighting equipment, there isn’t much.
The focus of attention is on the actors coming in for their audition.
Casting directors get their orders from producers of film, television
shows and commercials. A producer supplies the script and the specifications
for what sort of actors they are looking for. After looking at the script
and after a few consultations, the casting director will decide whether
or not to take on the project. Some producers are harder to work with
The consultation will involve narrowing down the type of person being
cast in a particular role. For example, if the producer is looking for
a news reporter, it may be that he wants a male reporter to balance
out the predominately female cast.
The narrowing down will continue until it is decided that the reporter
will be a short, stocky, middle-aged, Hispanic man. The focus will continue
to narrow so as to have the character distinguishable from a cliché
persona. Perhaps the reporter will walk with a limp or will be blind
in one eye.
There are times when producers require that casting directors “audition”
for the job. A producer may shop around for the right casting agency
and be very picky about which one he or she will work with.
Casting agencies usually have very stressful deadlines to meet. They
may only get a couple of days notice on some casting projects, and producers
usually give only one or two days to get ready for casting a commercial.
Films sometimes give a few months, but it isn’t unheard of for
film casting to happen at the drop of a hat, with very little notice
to casting agencies.
Most casting agencies use cast web sites to get the breakdowns on various
projects. If you are looking to be the next talent to be cast, actors
can join the web sites, but they usually cost to join. Talk to your
agent to see if it is worth your money to join.
After the script has been carefully looked at and various actors have
auditioned, the casting director will select which actors to show the
producer and project director. This is a picky process, and the casting
director works as a front gate, letting only those most qualified get
The casting director usually gets a list of actors from casting agents.
Once the casting agent knows the actor speculations, he or she will
look at their list of clients and find the ones that fit the bill. Most
of the time, the casting director will be familiar with the actors who
get recommended, and when the actor is new or unknown, the casting director
will request a resume and headshot.
This is the point at which the actor gets the phone call to schedule
an audition. At this point, it becomes crucial for the actor to get
to know the material inside and out.
The actor needs to become familiar with the project before going in
for the audition. As an actor, it is your job to get the project information
from your agent. Get this all at once, before your agent gets busy and
moves on to other projects.
It’s a good idea to make a checklist of the information you’ll
need to ask your agent:
· Get a description of the role and sides
· Get the shooting dates
· Get the date, time and location of the audition
· It’s very important to get any special information you
need to know about the character
· Get all the information that your agent has about the film,
show or commercial
· Get information about the director, do your research
Your agent may be in a hurry and stressed out. That is the nature of
the business. But it’s better to push for the information the
first time you speak, otherwise you will waste time both yours and his
time. You don’t want to call back several times a day to get the
information as the need arises, so get it all the first time around.
Also, keep in mind that you have hired the agent to do you a service.
The agent works for you. If you go to an audition unprepared, then this
is all a waste of time. Make sure you take a resume and headshot with
you, but don’t offer it until it is requested.
You’ll have an advantage over the other unprepared actors, and
these are the majority. If you find that you are unprepared for the
audition, it is better to cancel it immediately than to risk ruining
your reputation. Showing up unprepared will be a waste of the casting
director’s time. You don’t want to be remembered in this