Casting (performing arts)

In the performing arts industry such as theatre, film, or television, a casting (or casting call) is a pre-production process for selecting a certain type of actor, dancer, singer, or extra for a particular role or part in a script, screenplay, or teleplay. This process is typically utilized for a motion picture,[1] television program, documentary, music video, play, or television advertisement, etc. This involvement in a dramatic production, advertisement, and or industrial video is intended for an audience, or studio audience.

Casting Cats
Casting call for black cats, Los Angeles, 1961. The studio was seeking cats for the Roger Corman movie Tales of Terror.

Casting process

The casting process involves a series of auditions before a casting panel, composed of individuals within a theatrical production such as theatrical producer, and theater director. However, within a given television production a casting panel can consist of a television producer, or within film production a casting panel could contain a film producer, film director, and/or choreographer. Usually, in nearly all areas of show business, a casting director[2] is on this panel as well. In the early stages of this process performers often may present, or are presented with prepared audition pieces such as monologues, songs, choreography, scripts and or sides.[3]

These audition pieces are usually video taped, typically in the form of screen tests and then attached with resumes,[4] as well as head shots and or viewed online via websites such as IMDb, then shared with film producers, film directors and or studio executives. Later stages may involve groups of actors both union, (SAG-AFTRA) and non union depending on the size and scope of the production, attempting to read material from the work under consideration, paired off in various combinations of two, three or more. With each of the actor's overall motivational choices evaluated, the casting panel considers both the individual actor, and the chemistry created from either one of the combinations set forth within the read-through, such as boy meets girl, etc.

Within the production of a prestigious work under consideration for film or television, and depending on the difficulty in finding a lead or supporting actor for the role, such as with the casting of the biopic films Notorious,[5] Straight Outta Compton[6] and All Eyez on Me,[7] casting calls may go out into the general public at large, this is referred to as a Cattle Call[8] (typical for community theater), to professional and semi-professional local actors where a similar process is followed (for supporting roles in theater and film) or for specifically selected actors (for leading roles, especially in films).

Casting character breakdowns,[9] not to be confused with script breakdowns,[10] are often provided by production agents who submit their clients to casting, which provides a brief summary of character (age, gender, race or ethnicity, situations they may be involved in). A more robust version of this painstaking task can be made through the Breakdown Services,[11] which was founded by former actor Gary Marsh[12][13] over 40 years ago. This was due to the difficult logistics issues for agents to get their actors submitted for acting roles from major film studios and casting directors.

This casting breakdown service provides a complete character breakdown of various scripts and projects from production companies for film, television, modeling, commercials etc., to only agencies and managers who meet certain criteria.[14]

These agents and managers are positioned all over the world, and subscribe to this service that literally has an entire suite of services for just about every aspect of the breakdown, for a monthly service subscription fee. This suite includes services such as Breakdown Express,[15] which offer representatives, casting and those who subscribe, a quicker way to post projects themselves. Another more limited version of the breakdown service, also for a monthly subscription fee is called Actors Access[16] where acting can subscribe to what is only made available to them, more like an entry level acting position, like under-five, or a bit part, a great tool for the actor whom is without an agent or manager.

An actor may go through several casting calls before receiving a part, and even though well known actors or actresses oftentimes still go through this very necessary process, some are privileged enough to have well known writers, screenwriters and or directors /producers pitch a project for their intent to be cast in a role. The well known actor or actress oftentimes negotiates producer credit as well as very lucrative monetary compensation.

Independent casting studios like Film Independent who hosts the annual Independent Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival are often utilized for casting calls so that auditions can take place in one location, as well as possible affiliated various locations saving valuable time, energy and money.

Casting directors

For some major productions, the process of selecting actors for sometimes hundreds of speaking parts and roles, may often require a specialized staff. While the last word remains with the people in charge such as the director, producer, artistic departments and overall production team, a casting director[17] or "CD" (and sometimes the casting associate) is in charge of most of the daily work involved in this process during pre-production. A casting director is sometimes assisted by a casting associate; productions with large numbers of extras may have their own extras casting director as well, however in all aspects of a film or television production's budget, they are all a part of the above-the-line, answering to the director as part of his or her staff.[18]

The "CD" remains as a liaison between director, actors and their agents/managers and the studio/network to get the characters in the script cast. Some casting directors build an impressive career working on numerous Hollywood productions such as Marion Dougherty, Mary Jo Slater, Mary Selway, Lynn Stalmaster, April Webster, Tammara Billik, Marci Liroff, Avy Kaufman, Mindy Marin, and Robi Reed.

At least in the early stages of casting and or extras casting such as with casting agency Central Casting, the process may be decentralized geographically, often in conjunction with actual shooting planned in different locations. Another reason may be tapping into each home market in the case of an international co-production. However, for the top parts, the choice of one or more beautiful people, whose presence is of enormous commercial importance, may rather follow strictly personal channels, e.g. direct contact with the director. During this time known as the "attachment phase" of a film, the casting director's job is to send out copies of the current script to agents for what is known as coverage. Coverage is when a script yet to be cast is read, summarized into a one-pager, and a brief set of character descriptions established. At this time, if an agency agrees to give coverage to a film, they will submit a list of ideas to the casting directors of actors available, capable, and in the price range of the film. Also, casting directors create their own[19] idea lists and can "check avails" or call the actor representation to see if they are available and interested in taking on potential projects. If an idea that is generated from a casting director and a subsequent avail check or from an agent's recommendation is "approved" by the director, producers, and financiers (or studio), the casting director sends out what is called an "Offer." The offer, usually contains a letter to the actor's representative explaining the role in question, a copy of the script, why the actor has been selected, the length of time commitment, the approximate start date of filming, the filming location, and the proposed salary offering. If the actor does not respond to the material or for whatever reason cannot accept the job, they respond to casting with what is called a "pass." If they accept the offer, the agent engages the casting director and a deal memo is sent from casting to the representative. It is at this time when negotiations between agency and production happen to finalize any deal points before the entertainment lawyers step in and draw up the attachment contracts. If this process happens very early on in the development of a movie but the official shoot dates and details are not yet known, a Letter of Intent or "LOI" is drafted, to indicate, if and when the project is "green lit" or begins active production, the actor is already hired to portray that particular role.

After the attachment phase is complete (which depends on many factors -- including but not limited to: financial backers, studio heads, availability of other above the line personnel), the physical auditions begin for all of the remaining roles. During this time, depending on the budget of the film, they could have what is called "pre-screens" where you audition only for a casting director (or associate) to see if the actor is right for the material. After pre-screens would be a "director session", during this time the actor comes in and auditions (usually with the same material) and now performs for the casting director and the film director. If there is a next step, it is usually a "callback" or producer session, where anyone who has decision making power is in the room for your audition. In television, this phase is referred to as a "screen test" and Network Executives would also be in attendance. Once actors are selected from the pool of available actors, the same booking process that happens in the attachment phase takes place for any actor except extras.[19]

The resulting list of actors who were selected to play a character for a production, is called a cast list, which is incorporated into a production company's daily call sheet,[20] and reflected in the projects title sequence especially with film and television.

Casting office personnel

Readers: This person reads all other character's lines opposite the actor who is currently auditioning. A good reader is someone who has acting skills, but who has no interest in booking a role through that casting director's office at that time. A reader will know how to give and take and play with other actors without ever outshining the auditioning actors.[19]

Interns: Interns are more common to commercial casting offices which host as many as a dozen different casting directors holding different auditions per day. While some commercial casting offices hold permanent casting space, many rent out studios on a project to project basis. A key intern will work with many busy casting directors sorting mail, copying sides and transcribing them onto "cue cards" or large boards to be read off of as prompts in the casting room, help actors sign in, and keep the flow of actors going in and out of the casting room as smooth as possible.[19]

Casting Assistants: This is the entry level position in the field of casting. These people go above and beyond the call of duty of your typical office assistant. They do everything from covering phones, to making copies, setting up audition (aka "session") equipment like lights, the camera, sound equipment, etc. They sometimes can be found in the office relaying audition appointments, checking actors avails, or in the casting room making sure the recording software is running smoothly so the Casting Director can focus on each actor's performance.[19]

Casting Associates: Associates is the second chain of command in a casting office. Once a casting associate has worked for two years in the field of casting, they can apply for membership in Casting Society of America. Typically, the work under a Casting Director running pre-read sessions, prepping deal memos, and doing any calls to agents. Many associates begin to take on smaller scale projects so they can amass enough credits to move up in rank in CSA to a full-fledged Casting Director.[19]

Casting Director: Their job is to know a lot about a lot of actors, so that they can advise and present to the director the best of the existing possibilities. Casting directors are highly influential and is usually on the project because the director trusts their judgements. They are also the ones who decides who the director does see. Good casting directors "discover" actor by carefully setting it up so that the director and producer will feel as if they've made the discovery of the new young actor. On the occasion when the director or producer does not respond to the actor presented, they must keep in mind that they aren't directing the production, the director is the one who's going to have to work with that actor-- therefore, it is casting's responsibility to delicately balance between showcasing the actor available to them and the director and producer's sensibilities, tastes, and expectations.[21]

Casting Society of America (CSA)

The significant organization of professional screen, television, reality, and theater casting in the US is the Casting Society of America (CSA), but membership is optional. Casting directors organized in 2005 and became members of a collective bargaining unit, the Hollywood Teamsters Local 399 and New York Teamsters Local 817.

Casting director workshops

A common practice of many casting directors and casting associates have been casting director workshops. The types of workshop practices vary, but typically aspiring actors pay to perform in front of a casting professional who gives back feedback on the performance. Actors and industry professionals against workshops argue that casting directors are paid to find talent, not have talent pay to be seen by them. Supporters of the workshops argue that the workshops have classroom like settings and are a good source of feedback and networking. [22]

Because of their mixed reception, casting director workshops have not been met without controversy. Former Criminal Minds casting director Scott David was fired after The Hollywood Reporter published a story about his casting director workshops. [23] In February 2017, five casting director workshops were charged with criminal charges for charging actors to audition for projects. [24] In January 2018, Lindsay Chag, the casting director of films like Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Dracula: Dead and Loving It, was convicted guilty of violating the Talent Scam Prevention Act for her role in casting director workshops.[25]

Artios Awards

The highest honor a casting director can receive is awarded by their peers in the Casting Society of America. Artios, comes from the Greek word meaning, "perfectly fitted." The Artios award excellence in casting for all genres of casting except commercials. The Artios are currently held mid-January annually with ceremonies in New York, Los Angeles, and (beginning in 2018) London. Since their incarnation in 1985, they were held in November but were moved in 2013-2014 season to align with the rest of the film and television industry's awards season. The Artios is awarded to those CSA members who receive primary screen (or program) credit for casting on the winning project. Location Casting Directors, Casting Executives and Department Heads who are CSA members and who receive credit on winning projects also receive an Artios Award. CSA Associates on those projects are recognized in the press and with a certificate.[26]

Emmy Awards

The Emmy Awards has a category for casting directors. As of 2017, Junie Lowry-Johnson has won the most casting Emmys as an individual, all in the drama category. She has six awards for her work on NYPD Blue, Six Feet Under, True Blood and Homeland. The only shows to win casting Emmys three times were 30 Rock and Veep, both in the comedy category. In 2017, at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences introduced the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Casting for a Reality Program.

See also


  1. ^ "Motion Pictures". Socialbilitty. December 14, 2016. Archived from the original on October 6, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  2. ^ "What Does a Casting Director Do?". Huffington Post. Apr 29, 2017. Archived from the original on May 26, 2017. Retrieved May 21, 2017.
  3. ^ "Sides". Theatre Development Fund . Feb 25, 2015. Archived from the original on May 17, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  4. ^ "How do I add my resume and more information about myself?". IMDb. May 21, 2017. Retrieved May 21, 2017.
  5. ^ "Notorious". IMDb . January 16, 2009. Archived from the original on May 12, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  6. ^ "Straight Outta Compton - Number One Movie of the Summer". Socialbilitty. August 20, 2015. Archived from the original on March 7, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  7. ^ "All Eyez on Me". IMDb . June 16, 2017. Archived from the original on May 19, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  8. ^ "Cattle Call". Socialbilitty. December 15, 2016. Archived from the original on February 13, 2018. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  9. ^ "How to Write a Casting Notice". Lights Film School. April 2, 2013. Archived from the original on March 21, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  10. ^ "Script Breakdown 101". YouTube. Feb 18, 2016. Archived from the original on December 25, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  11. ^ "Breakdown Services". Breakdown Services. May 18, 2017. Archived from the original on May 17, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  12. ^ "Headshot Cafe interview with Gary Marsh (founder of Breakdown Services)". YouTube. Jul 8, 2013. Archived from the original on May 10, 2018. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  13. ^ "About Breakdown Services". Breakdown Services. May 18, 2017. Archived from the original on May 22, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  14. ^ "How can we contact casting directors or film directors in Hollywood as an aspiring actor?". Quora. May 12, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  15. ^ "Breakdown Express". Breakdown Express . May 18, 2017. Archived from the original on May 15, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  16. ^ "Actors Access". Actors Access. May 18, 2017. Archived from the original on May 20, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  17. ^ "Twinkie Byrd - Casting in the 21st Century". Socialbilitty. March 24, 2017. Archived from the original on December 14, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  18. ^ "Job Descriptions for Film, Video & Cgi". Google Books. May 21, 2017. Retrieved May 21, 2017.
  19. ^ a b c d e f Bonnie., Gillespie, (2009). Self-management for actors : getting down to (show) business (3rd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Cricket Feet Pub. ISBN 9780972301992. OCLC 182731144.
  20. ^ "What is the Call Sheet on a film production?". Pinterest. September 8, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  21. ^ Michael., Shurtleff, (1980) [1978]. Audition : everything an actor needs to know to get the part (Bantam ed.). New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0553272950. OCLC 47813908.
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Artios Awards". Archived from the original on 2013-11-02. Retrieved 2018-01-12.

External links


An audition is a sample performance by an actor, singer, musician, dancer or other performer. It typically involves the performer displaying their talent through a previously memorized and rehearsed solo piece or by performing a work or piece given to the performer at the audition or shortly before. In some cases, such as with a model or acrobat, the individual may be asked to demonstrate a range of professional skills. Actors may be asked to present a monologue. Singers will perform a song in a popular music context or an aria in a Classical context. A dancer will present a routine in a specific style, such as ballet, tap dance or hip-hop, or show his or her ability to quickly learn a choreographed dance piece.

The audition is a systematic process in which industry professionals select performers, which is in some ways analogous to a job interview in the regular job market. In an audition, the employer is testing the ability of the applicant to meet the needs of the job and assess how well the individual will take directions and deal with changes. After some auditions, after the performer has demonstrated their abilities in a given performance style, the audition panel may ask a few questions that resemble those used in standard job interviews (e.g., regarding availability).

Auditions are required for many reasons in the performing arts world. Often, employing companies or groups use auditions to select performers for upcoming shows or productions. An audition for a performing opportunity may be for a single performance (e.g., doing a monologue at a comedy club), for a series or season of performances (a season of a Broadway play), or for permanent employment with the performing organization (e.g., an orchestra or dance troupe). Auditions for performing opportunities may be for amateur, school, or community organizations, in which case the performers will typically not be paid. As well, auditions are used to select or screen candidates for entry to training programs (ballet school or circus school); university programs (B.Mus, M.Mus, MFA in Theater); performance-related scholarships and grants; or to be considered for representation by a talent agency or individual agent.

Audition Room

Audition Room (Hindi: ऑडिशन रूम) is India’s first (1st) ever book about Casting (performing arts) process and Auditioning techniques from a point of view of an Indian casting director, Written by Indian casting director Manoj Ramola and first published in India by Educreation Publishing on 21 November 2015. Audition Room is Printed and Fulfillment by Repro India. The book into English ISBN 978-9-38-524725-5 (English Paperback edition) and Hindi ISBN 978-9-38-524724-8 (Hindi Paperback edition) both the languages and generally well received by reviewers. Lots of well known personality supporting this book including Veteran Indian actor Om Puri, Shabana Azmi, Filmmaker R. Balki, Sumeet Hukamchand Mittal, Anang Desai, Ankit Bathla, Sonal Parihar, Mrunal Jain, Abhishek Malik, Amit Dolawat and Ashutosh Kaushik.

Backstage (magazine)

Backstage (aka Back Stage) is an entertainment-industry brand aimed at people working in film and the performing arts, with a special focus on casting, job opportunities, and career advice.Backstage publishes a print-edition magazine in the U.S. (Backstage, also available as a digital-edition PDF publication) and a periodic digest-sized resource directory (Call Sheet) that cover the entertainment industry from the perspective of performers (singers, dancers, comedians, models, etc.), the performance unions (SAG-AFTRA, Actors' Equity Association, AGVA, AGMA, the American Federation of Musicians, etc.), casting directors, agents, writers, filmmakers, and, in particular, actors.Backstage also publishes related newsletters, along with running multiple websites, including, The Backstage Message Boards, and Audition Update.

Casting (disambiguation)

Casting is a manufacturing process using a fluid medium in a mould, so as to produce a casting.

Casting (metalworking), forming an object within a mold using molten metalCasting may also refer to:

Forming a protective orthopedic cast

A process in sculpture of converting plastic materials into more solid form

Casting, moulting or shedding of hair in most breeds of dog and other mammals

In bookkeeping, casting or footing is a method of summing a table of numbers by column

Casting (performing arts), the process of selecting a cast of actors, or other visual talent such as models for a photo shoot

Casting (fishing), the process of propelling a lure to catch fish

Casting (falconry), anything given to a hawk to purge and cleanse its gorge

To distribute a stream of data, voice, or images, as in broadcasting

Streaming media via the Internet, such as a webcast or podcast

Excretions from an earthworm

Type conversion in computer programming

To propel, as in casting off a boat, or launching a rocket

Casting magical spells

Manoj Ramola

Manoj Ramola (Hindi: मनोज रमोला )(born 27 June 1987) is a Mumbai-based Casting Director and Author, known for his book on casting named Audition Room. He started his casting career with Indian Television series Savdhaan India for Life OK hosted by Veteran Indian actor Om Puri, Sushant Singh, Hiten Tejwani, Pooja Gaur and later on also done casting for another Indian crime reality television anthology series Crime Patrol for Sony Entertainment Television India and Sony Entertainment Television Asia hosted by Actor Anoop Soni. He is currently working on his new venture called Audition School and couple of Films.

Manoj Ramola was born on 27 June 1987 to Devki devi and Captain (Ret.) Dharam Singh Ramola in Bageshwar, Uttrakhand. He comes from an Army background. After completing his graduation from Nainital, he decided to make his career in the entertainment industry and moved to Mumbai in 2008. In his casting career Manoj cast several actors for production house including STAR TV, Disney Channel (India), Bindass, Endemol, Sony Entertainment Television (India), Channel V, Life OK, Zee TV, &TV. Apart from Film and TV Serial, He also has done casting for dozens of TVC featuring brands including MARVEL TEA, Microtek, keshking. He is the first ever casting director, who wrote a book about casting and Audition in Hindi cinema from a point of view of an Indian casting director.

Nate Butler

Nate Butler is an American songwriter, music producer, vocal producer, and recording artist based in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been a part of 45 plus million records sold worldwide at last count. Butler has worked with multi-platinum artists such as Luther Vandross, Victoria Beckham aka Posh Spice, Houston, Craig David, Backstreet Boys, 3LW, Christina Milian, Stacie Orrico, JoJo, Aaron Carter, The Cheetah Girls and others. Butler launched the career of the platinum R&B group 3LW by writing their hit singles: No More (Baby I'ma Do Right) and Playas Gon' Play. Two of the members of 3LW, Kiely Williams and Adrienne Bailon, went on to become members of the worldwide Disney sensation The Cheetah Girls. Butler also penned the notable chart topping R&B smash single "Afterparty" by Koffee Brown, also referred to as a R&B classic.Butler helped launch the careers of many artists, such as the American Idols and others such as, S Club 7 (U.K.), L5 (France), Blue (U.K.), Sugababes (U.K.), Miss3 (Norway), BoA (Japan), and Lola (Italy). Butler has racked up credits on blockbuster films such as Barbershop, Four Brothers,Dr. Dolittle 2, Save the Last Dance, and the Nickelodeon hit Jimmy Neutron.Butler was a part of the casting team for the final season of The X-Factor and America's Got Talent Season 9 and 10.

He worked as the Jr. Casting Producer for Showtime at the Apollo on Fox Entertainment Group hosted by

Steve Harvey and he is currently casting for the new show The Four: Battle For Stardom with Sean John Combs aka P. Diddy, DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor, Charlie Walk the President of Universal Republic Records and Fergie which also airs on the Fox Entertainment Group.


Pre-production is the process of planning some of the elements involved in a film, play, or other performance. There are three parts in a production: pre-production, production, and post-production. Pre-production ends when the planning ends and the content starts being produced.

Sebastian Calleja

Sebastian Calleja is a Maltese singer. He started his singing career at the age of 11. Calleja is a resident singer, for the 4th year in a row, on 'Hadd Ghalik' which is aired on the national Maltese television channel TVM. He performs some acting in various local pageants or shows which gave him the spotlight in 2017 and 2018 playing one of the leading roles in the different Good Friday Pageant (film) organised by the inmates at Corradino Correctional Facility in Kordin, Malta, which had all the performances sold out. In 2016, he also was chosen (together with other 5 local singers) to be part of the song and music video for the Maltese version of the World Youth Day Song 2016 - 'Henjin li jhennu'.

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