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Want to be a Casting Director? Here’s What to Expect.

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If you’re interested in taking on this spot, which requires significant industry knowledge, a keen eye and ear for talent, and the ability to work around the clock, your career will certainly never be boring.  What do you need to know to be a CD?  Here are the basics, according to Backstage.

A solid work ethic. Becoming a CD is very competitive and requires a lot of hard work.  You must be willing to do just about anything to bring a project to life from managing the big picture to picking apart the details.  You must also understand how the entertainment industry works and the roles of the various players involved.  Most CDs get their start through internships, apprenticeships, assistantships, fellowships, or mentorships, so it’s common to work your way up from the bottom and take on unpaid gigs to get an “in.”  The best way to learn how to perform your duties is through hands-on experience.  This means you should start by getting connected with those on the inside.

Team-building skills. You’ll have to know how to build a team of actors perfect for each piece of the project.  CDs are responsible for selecting the right talent and for negotiating their contracts.  They must also come up with innovative ways to work around any roadblocks along the way.  You’ll have to know where to scout and what you’re looking for.  This means ensuring you have access to insider materials and venue information in order to host castings.  You’ll also have to have a knack for posting casting details and managing the flow of auditions.

Asking for submissions versus hosting open auditions. There are essentially two ways to go about securing talent – ask for submissions ahead of time and invite actors to an audition or schedule open auditions, which can take hours and be absolutely exhausting.  You have to expect an open audition to bring in actors who are in no way qualified for the roles you must fill.  However, if you advertise well, you’ll likely see a lot of talent come through and have a lot of actors to choose from.  

Asking for submissions and hand-picking who you want to see is, of course, the best way to be selective right from the get-go.  Just make sure you’re not limiting yourself too much.  At the end of the day, you’ll want to have a sufficient amount of options.  You can ask actors to submit self-taped auditions so you can get a sense of how they will perform the role without having to meet with them face-to-face.  

How you go about securing talent ultimately has to do with a multitude of factors and can vary from project to project.  Just remember, you’ll have to have a good tracking system in place either way to manage callbacks.

Becoming a casting director certainly isn’t easy, but if you make it in this role, it can be very rewarding to see your hard work and efforts pay off in a big way!

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