CHOOSING A CAREER / FEB. 26, 2015
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How to Become a Casting Director in the US

The actors in a movie can significantly contribute to its success. Personally, I watched The Wolf of Wall Street not because I am a stockbroking enthusiast, but because Leonardo DiCaprio is one of my favorite actors. How does this relate to casting directors? Well, they are the professionals responsible for assembling a cast for a film.

What Do Cast Directors Do?

To put together a perfect team of main and support actors and actresses, casting directors perform the following duties:

  • Leading a casting panel that may include the producer, casting associates and choreographers
  • Reading the movie script to get a general idea of the roles she needs to fill
  • Holding discussions with producers and directors to determine their creative vision for the production
  • Watching films and attending live theatrical performances to identify potential actors
  • Auditioning aspiring actors and actresses and assessing their suitability to various roles – this involves evaluating their reputation, experience and talent
  • Matching selected actors to each role
  • Negotiating contracts with the agents of selected actors.

Work Environment

If you aspire to work in the TV and film industry, you must be prepared to bid goodbye a regular 9-to-5, Monday to Friday work schedule. Casting directors work long, irregular hours. They could hold meetings with directors and producers early on a Monday morning, attend a theatrical performance on a Tuesday evening and conduct auditions on a Saturday afternoon.

The job involves frequent travel, as casting directors must attend performances.

Salary

What is the average annual salary of a casting director? Find out below:

Job Title

Annual Wage

Casting director

$87,000

Source: Indeed

It is important to note the salaries for casting directors can vary widely depending on the budget of a film. High-budget production projects often pay upwards of $200,000 a year.

Entry Requirements

There are no defined entry requirements for this career. As a general rule of thumb, you must be knowledgeable about acting and possess vast film experience.

Syracuse University in New York has recently launched an apprenticeship program specifically designed for aspiring casting directors. If you are lucky enough to secure an admission, you will receive the best preparation for a career as a casting director.

Should you miss out, you can also get started by pursuing a degree in acting or film studies.

After completing your course, you could engage in writing film reviews for blogs, industry magazines or even national newspapers to build your reputation. Alternatively, you could find work as a casting assistant or associate. Breaking into the film industry at any level is tough, so be sure to build profession networks right from college.

Important Qualities

To be a successful casting director, you need:

  • The ability to spot talent
  • The ability to build close relationships with actors, producers and directors
  • A solid understanding of the business of filmmaking
  • Strong negotiation skills
  • The ability to interpret other people’s creative visions
  • Good verbal and written communication skills
  • The ability to stay abreast of market trends for acting jobs
  • Creative problem-solving skills
  • A good memory.

Career Development

How quickly you transition from being a casting associate to a casting director greatly depends on your competence and professional connections. The Casting Society of America offers membership opportunities, which you can grab to be able to access a variety of resources, including notifications of projects that are hiring casting directors.

Job Opportunities

The employers of casting directors include:

  • Casting agencies
  • Theatres
  • Performing arts companies
  • Film production companies

After gaining several years of experience as a casting director, you can establish your own casting agency. If you wish to move a step ahead and become a film producer, you can pursue a master’s degree in film production to boost your chances.

Finally, the U.S. film industry is big and getting bigger. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the demand for movies is increasing, meaning more casting directors will be needed to assemble talented movie casts.

So, if you have a sharp eye for talent, maybe this is the career you should chase.

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