Film Industry

What Is A Casting Director & What Does A Casting Director Do?

Photograph of the blog post author, Jodie Francis

Jodie Francis

19.8.2021

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So, you’d like to become a casting director? Or maybe you would just like to learn more about what the role would entail? Whatever the case, please consider this article your complete guide to the role of a casting director, as we will answer the all-important question, “what is a casting director?”. 

what is a casting director

We will provide an overview of what the responsibilities of a casting director are, as well as the earning potential of the role and the different ways that you can land a job as a casting director. So, make sure that you keep reading to learn all about your dream role. 

What Is A Casting Director?

casting director

A casting director is the person responsible for selecting performers for a production. They will hunt out people that they believe are qualified for the role and provide a shortlist for the producers and director.

The casting director is unlikely to have the final say in who is cast for the role. They also make sure that everything they do stays within the casting budget that has been set out for them. As you can see, the role is extremely important, as without the right talent in the right roles the project will suffer. 

What Does A Casting Director Do?

So, what exactly does a casting director do? It’s time that we took a look in more detail at the responsibilities of the casting director, as these begin way before filming does!

Meetings 

casting director meeting

It’s likely that one of the first responsibilities of the casting director is to meet with the key people working on the production. This includes the director, producers, and the writer.

This will help them to gauge information about the project, and any expectations that they have from the casting process. The casting director will have read the script by this point. They will then make any relevant notes for the casting of the characters.

Holding Auditions 

acting auditions

This is the main part of the casting director’s role. Once they have absorbed all of the information (and any budget restrictions), they will set about holding auditions. Some of the lead acting talent may be offered a part without an audition. The director will have already made it clear if they wish a certain actor or actress to play a part. This will involve the casting director making contact with the performer’s agent to discover if they are interested in the script and what their availability is like. Auditions can be open auditions, where any performer can attend. On the other hand, the casting director may decide to invite a select group of performers to an audition. 

Casting directors will also scout for talent to invite to auditions. They will likely attend theatre shows and graduation performances in search of potential new talent. They will also examine headshots and reels to help them in their decision-making process. 

Making A Shortlist

cast member chair

After the round of auditions, it’s time for the casting director to compile a shortlist of who they believe are the best performers for the role. This shortlist will be passed onto the director and producers. They will send them their audition tapes, reels, and headshots for them to look at. The casting director will have also considered the availability of the performers, their fees, and the level of anticipation they could help to create for the film.

The casting director will also need to negotiate the performer’s deal points, as they may have specific conditions that they want to meet. Therefore, they will need to create a document that outlines this for the director and producers to look over. It’s important to note that it will be the production team that will write up the final contract and share it with the performer’s agent and team.

How To Become A Casting Director

casting and rehearsing

Now that we have covered what is a casting director, it’s time that we addressed how to be a casting director. There are a couple of different ways that you can approach the role, therefore you can consider what will suit you the best. 

Firstly, there’s the option of attending university and studying for a degree in a relevant field, which would be the film industry. This option isn’t for everyone; therefore, they may decide to try to get hired by a company. This could be as a casting director, or in a different job, such as an assistant or runner on a film set, and then work your way up. Finally, some people also take a do-it-yourself approach. This means picking up the key skills and knowledge related to the job yourself through research. 

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Casting Director?

how to become a casting director

Choosing to attend university is a useful route to go down when beginning your career as a casting director. This is because it gives you a broad overview of what working in the entertainment industry will be like. You will likely get to speak to people in the industry, and more importantly, those who have years of experience working as a casting director. 

This can allow you to ask them a range of questions to gain a better idea of what will be expected of you. Furthermore, you may get to attend some placement weeks where you work on a film set. This allows you to gain some connections in the industry, and possibly a job following the completion of your degree. Finally, a degree in a relevant field can help you to stand out to your potential employer. They will recognise the years of discipline you have put into learning about the industry. 

Related Courses

casting director courses

So, what university courses are out there for you? There are plenty of degrees related to film and production, so you are bound to find one that aligns with your interests. For example, you could attend King’s College London and study for a degree in Film Studies (BA). They offer a wide-ranging curriculum that covers theory and practical studies related to film. Students also have the opportunity to work on creative filmmaking projects and audio recording and mixing. 

If you would like to obtain knowledge through online study, then you have this option too! This can be a good option for some people as it allows them to take their time with their studies and also earn some money at the same time. The Open University offers some short courses related to the film industry. For example, Reading the Screen: an introduction to the art of film. This is a great option for people wanting a shorter introduction to the film industry. 

You could also take some shorter courses, more specifically suited to the casting director job role. For example, NFTS offers a Casting Certificate. This will give you all of the key skills that you need to be successful in the role. They teach the following modules: Casting Fundamentals, Actors, Union Agreements and Equal Opportunities, Specialist Fields, Benefits of Training, and a Final Assessment. This assessment takes place in the form of a presentation where you will be assessed on your knowledge by an industry panel. The teaching lasts for six months and the teaching sessions are done through a mix of online learning and in-person classes. 

How To Become A Casting Director Without Qualifications

Now we will talk about some ways to become a casting director without having to undertake further education. 

Gaining Experience 

filming

If education isn’t your cup of tea, then don’t worry – you can still become a casting director without qualifications. As you already know, you could opt to take a role and work your way up through the ranks. This would also give you experience on a movie set which can be extremely helpful. You could also work as an intern, which can sometimes be paid. This can get you some useful first-hand knowledge and experience while earning a bit of money. 

Required Skills

There are also key skills that you can work on that will improve your chances of being hired by a company, as well as improve your abilities that will help you to do the job successfully. For example, you will need good communication skills and the ability to make connections. A casting director will be communicating with a variety of people on a daily basis, such as producers, talent, directors, writers, and more. Building good relationships also gives the casting director a body of talent to draw from when it comes to casting the next film. 

You will also need to be organised and keep track of a variety of things. There may also be last-minute changes that need to be made, therefore you should be flexible within the role. The casting director will sometimes have casting associates to help them depending on the project. 

Dedicate Yourself

A good eye for talent is obviously vital for the role of a casting director, however, this can come in time.

Make sure that you do all of the research you can, such as attending performances and watching films to hone this skill. Finally, make sure that you keep persisting. If this is the role that you wish to have then make sure that you keep working to achieve it. This also applies to working the job, as sometimes casting directors will need to be persistent if they believe that someone is right for the role. 

Where To Find Casting Director Jobs

job search

When it comes to finding casting director jobs, it’s a good idea to sign up to various job sites. There are also more specific job sites related to the film industry which can be extremely useful in searching for your next role. 

For example, there’s The Stage Jobs and The Casting Directors’ Guild. Here you can also assess if you have the skills necessary for the job, as they will explain what they are looking for in the job description. 

Casting Director Salary

casting director salary

So, what can you expect from a casting director salary? This salary can vary greatly depending on how much experience you have, in addition to whether you are freelance or hired by a company on a more permanent basis.

In the UK the average salary of a casting director is £37,170 per year. 

Now You Know How To Be A Casting Director

director chair and clapperboard

That completes our guide to what is a casting director and what does a casting director do.

The role of a casting director is extremely important, as without the right cast, a film could fail or not have the impact that it could’ve. There are definitely key skills that are important to master, such as organisation, good communication, and persistence. Casting directors should also be on the lookout for talent constantly, as they can always add them to the books even if they aren’t right for the current film that they are casting.

Remember, you don’t need a degree to become a casting director, although it can make you stand out from other applicants. There are also plenty of short courses that you can take more specific to the world of casting. Finally, you can also consider becoming an intern or getting a job in a different assistant role and work your way up. 

Good luck with finding your new role as a casting director! Remember to use the websites that we have provided to help get you started on your job search.

If you would like to read up on some more film industry information, then check out our blog! Here, you can find articles like Best Films of 2020, Famous Filmmakers, Online Filmmaking Courses, and much more!

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