Casting Director: How To Become One & More

10th March 2022

Casting Director: How To Become One & More
Georgia Carter

Georgia Carter

What is a casting director, how to become a casting director and who is on the list of the most famous ones you ask? Are you interested in being a casting director and very importantly as actors how to build relationships with casting directors? Then this is the article for you and we will give you all the creative intel you will need to answer all these questions. 

What Does A Casting Director Do?

Casting directors are those who will be in charge of the final casting of a production, be that a film, tv series, play or commercial. They are hired by the production company to bring in the stars of the show and are needed on any project, large or small. They will meet with the directors of the production and discuss what type of people they are looking to cast, to make sure the needs are met. They are not in charge of the final decision, but will certainly be able to guide the director and producers who pay for the project to the best talent for the role. 

casting director

One very important thing to remember is that they are always looking for the best people for the job, so they want you to succeed and if they do not cast you in their project it will be for no personal reasons, but they require someone who fits the narrative of both the director and the production. 

The casting executive will read the script, create breakdowns of each role and then contact the talent agent to discuss who they would like to see at the casting. They will ask them in for an audition. It is integral to the casting director’s role to have a wealth of knowledge of the acting world so they can make the best decision for the certain project. They will then send a selection of actors to the directors and producers to review and they will make the final decision. There may be several auditions, recalls, chemistry tests etc. for one part, so it can be a lengthy process. 

There may even be well-known actors attached to the project already, so the role of the casting director will analyze the further roles and send their selection of the talent to the hiring powers that be. Their role essentially will be accumulating the whole cast for the production company, from the lead and supporting characters to the one-liner roles. They will be hired first as part of the project and casting directors are critical in the pre-production process. 

What Skills Do You Need To Become A Casting Director? 

  • Current knowledge of acting talent and the ability to maintain knowledge of industry trends and theatre text
  • Instinct to recognise talent
  • Excellent organizational and leadership skills
  • Good communication 
  • Great negotiation skills
  • Ability to work well in a team and listen to the Director and Producer of the production

What Do I Need To Do Now To Become A Casting Director? 

Firstly, there are many paths that lead to becoming a casting director. But initially, you will need to build a knowledge of the acting world early so you can create your own taste, which will then follow onto productions hiring and rehiring you for your consistency. Watch as many films, tv series, plays as possible and see what you like and don’t like.

Even though you do not need a degree to become a casting director, you could pursue a bachelor’s degree in the following degrees: film and tv, theatre, business, communication, or acting so this will enable you to have a footing in the industry before you start. They will also ensure you become a more effective leader and communicator which are both vital traits for a casting executive.

An internship or apprenticeship – make sure this is paid and the industry has certainly moved away from the unpaid work experience roles of the past now – is one of the best ways to get into the industry. You will work on the job, learn the ways of both the industry and the role and you will meet a great deal of people. I would also suggest volunteering your time with local projects near you and get as much experience as you can. That way you can also build contacts. 

Start as a casting assistant or casting associate. You may be qualified for these sorts of roles having done an apprenticeship or internship and they may turn into a permanent position. The type of casting company and the projects they cast for is important and really decide whether you want to work in film, television, plays, commercials or photoshoots. There is more of a commonality between casting for film and tv, but it is wise to decide early and then you can hone in on your interests. This will then make it easier when applying for professional casting roles. That said, some casting directors work across many fields. 

Critically, networking in the industry and building relationships is going to be the way to get to know the actors, producers, directors and other industry contacts you want to work with and their impression of you is paramount. So, how do you do that? 

  • Attend theatre or film events 
  • Work behind the scenes on films and tv sets, as a runner, or production assistant
  • Collaborate with friends and colleagues to produce and cast your own films and plays etc.  

This will open up doors for you to be able to apply for an associate casting director after a few years and you will be given more responsibility and furthermore respect from your peers. You will be advising the casting director making decisions and they will lean on you and ask for guidance. The only way is up from here.

camera man

Once you have been in this role for a few more years – it may be less time – then you are eligible to apply to be a member of a casting director’s association, such as the Casting Society of America (CSA) or the Casting Directors Guild (CDG), which is a professional body across the UK and Ireland. They will work with film, tv, theatrical productions and commercial communities. You will be entitled to certain benefits, such as; exclusive job postings, screenings and the certifying CSA or CDG on any film credit. 

Usually after 10 years, you will step up into the casting director role and you will have the experience, connections and respect to take the lead on casting high profile productions. 

How Much Do Casting Directors Make? 

A casting director’s salary varies in terms of your experience, and the type of projects you have worked on in the past, but casting directors can make £260 per day/ £1,430 per week or over $74,000/year. 

Who Are The Most Famous Casting Directors? 

If you are looking for a famous casting director, see below. 

Nina Gold

Lucy Beavan 

Sarah Finn

Debbie Mc Williams

Francine Maisler

John Papsidera

Jina Jay

Avy Kaufman

Mary Vernieu

Susie Figgs

Suzanne Smith

Carmen Cuba

Gail Stevens

Des Hamilton 

Amy Hubbard

Fiona Weir

Alison Jones

Ellen Lewis

Sheila Jaffe  

Final Thoughts 

So there you have it, now you know all the basics for how to become a casting director and what are the next steps. The more open you are to opportunities at the start and the more effective you are at communicating and networking in your industry will really set you up for a fantastic career.

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