How To: Becoming a Casting Director

Launching a career as a casting director often starts with volunteer work or an unpaid internship. Jobs in the entertainment industry are very competitive. When you decide to start a career in this field, you should take any project that becomes available, no matter how small. Start by volunteering for local projects if you can.

More experience is what will make you more competitive against other applicants for any jobs in entertainment. Maybe you’ve worked for free for a year, but if your resume says you’ve worked on ten different films, it’s going to be a huge asset. Try your best to make yourself stand out. What is your personal brand? How are you different? You have to show people how you are special and what makes you better than others working alongside you.

To be a casting director, you must love actors. You should like working in creative, energetic environments and have a keen understanding of human chemistry. More than one film has had disastrous results because casting errors resulted in leads who had no chemistry. You’ll also need to be very good at networking, especially at the beginning, Directors are the ones who hire you, so get to know as many directors as you can.

Make yourself someone to remember on every production you work on. Always leave behind a positive impression of yourself. Go to as many networking events or screenings as you can attend, and make it a point to introduce yourself to the directors there. Pay special attention to the directors who make films in the genres you wish to cast for. Build those relationships, and always stay professional. Never burn any bridges, even with people you may not necessarily like. You never know who you might want to work with in the future.

The best places to begin your business are in New York and Los Angeles. In these places, projects are always being made; production is constant. Outside of New York and LA, project density varies by the season and you won’t have as much work opportunity or as many people to network with. For example, there isn’t much work in the wintertime in New England, but there’s plenty to do in LA, when preparation for the huge pilot season is just beginning. Take this into serious consideration. If you do end up trying to find work in New York or LA, register with the Casting Society of America (CSA). If you sign up as an assistant here, you may have an opportunity to assist on a casting if a director is looking for last-minute help.

Remember: good casting is what makes a movie. Casting the wrong person for a leading role can very well ruin a well-scripted film. You must have a natural talent and a passion for casting actors into roles, and you have to love your job. If this sounds like you, then don’t be afraid to start from the bottom and work your way up. Once you know the right people and show them your talent, things will get easier.

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