Annie Rowe (Casting Director) has been kind enough to answer some of the most frequently asked questions to do with castings and has also shared some fantastic links to further resources that may be of use (more on writing to Casting Directors and the role of a Casting Director.)
Annie trained as an actress herself before making the decision to become a Casting Director. We wanted to speak to Annie because it is clear that she will be able to relate to the perspective of an Actor when it comes to writing to Casting Directors and other Industry Professionals.
1. What exactly is the role of a Casting Director and at what point in the production process do they come in?
A Casting Director is employed by a production company to source and select appropriate actors and actresses to present to a director in order for those performers to be cast in TV shows, theatre, music videos, commercials, film productions etc.
The Casting Director is often one of the first creatives to be attached to a project. They get the ball rolling and investors, funding, publicity etc often follow based on the performers the Casting Director has secured for the production at the behest of the director.
Importantly, the Casting Director doesn’t choose or have final say over who gets cast in a role – this responsibility lies with the director and producer. Alternatively, the writer may have final say.
The Casting Director starts off by composing lists of suggestions for each role they are looking to fill. They then discuss these ideas with the director.
Next the Casting Director will possibly issue a breakdown (job description) with dates, character briefs, venue and fee information that’s emailed to agents and actors, often via Spotlight.
Based on the candidates submitted via the breakdown, and the feedback of the director, the Casting Director will then either send a straight offer for a part to an actor via their agent with no audition required, or they’ll schedule and facilitate auditions and meetings for the director who then chooses who he/she wants to cast based on those sessions.
Once the parts have been offered, the Casting Director negotiates fees and contracts for the actors, and acts as a liaison between the producer, the director, the actors and their agents.
A lot of casting is about talent scouting and taste and Casting Directors constantly watch plays, films, showcases, TV shows, musicals, online content, comedy and drama school showings in order to source new talent and keep up to date with established artists’ work.
2. Is all Casting now done through Spotlight?
No. Lots of projects won’t be advertised at all. Casting Directors’ will sometimes go directly to agents without issuing any kind of breakdown. Others will use Spotlight. Smaller budget projects may be posted on Casting Call Pro / Cast Net.
3. If you don’t have an agent, what’s the best way to hear about Castings?
4. Can I write to Casting Directors directly to invite them to see me in something or to watch my showreel?
Yes. Casting Directors’ like to be contacted in different ways, you can always phone to ask if they’d like an email/ letter/ link to showreel/cd showreel/ hard copy photos etc.
5. What do you like to see when you receive an invitation in the post?
In terms of style, content, presentation. An invite/ news of a change or gain of representation/ link to showreel/ new headshots. I’m not a big fan of introductory ‘I am an actor’ emails- give me something specific and I’ll read it / watch it / see if I can attend it / remember it.
6. Is it acceptable to email Casting Directors with invitations?
I prefer email communication as I have limited storage space in my office and they are very easy to reply swiftly to.
7. Do Casting Directors still hold general auditions?
Some do, absolutely. Some work from home or don’t have a separate meeting room so it’s not possible.
8. What do you like to see when actors’ walk through the door at an audition?
Preparation, relaxation, confidence, enthusiasm.
Here are some potentially useful Links
Here’s an interview that Annie did recently, as an example of a podcast:
Here’s Stuart Burt:
Videos with Paul de Freitas from 2007:
Maggie Lunn interview from 2009:
Toby Whale talking for the National in 2004:
Video from Alistair Coomer, National 2007:
Why hire a casting director video:
Video interview with Amy Hubbard:
Interview with Richard Evans:
Interview with David Grinrod:
Interview with Jo Adamson-Parker
Interview with Des Hamilton: