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A Casting Director is the producer's representative responsible for choosing performers for consideration by the producer or director, keeping the creative, business and other goals of the production in mind.
It is a very large, time consuming and creative job. The job of a casting director is to weed through the forest of potential talent to portray a role and find the handful that come closest to meeting the vision of the producer or director. In some cases casting directors also negotiate with named actors or working actors who are offered the role without an audition, find alternatives should negotiations fall through and help keep the talent part of the ledger within budget and under control.
Casting directors do not work for actors. They are management.
To best understand the process of casting and the mind of the casting director, it is recommended that you attend seminars, read articles in Back Stage West and other publications, read books by casting directors, research their careers and read the following interviews carefully. Take from them the advice or ideas that work for you.
There are several local casting directors for film, although many projects may bring in their own location casting crew and others are locating in Nevada as production increases. The longest established local casting directors are Marilee Lear of Lear Entertainment/Lear Casing and Ray Favero, who is freelance. There are others, who enter or leave the market on a regular basis. Goldman and Associates is a second generation reestablishment of a firm first lunched by Charlene Goldman back the the "Ve$as" days.
Mary Lear is a member of the Casting Society America. CSA is a voluntary association of professional casting directors, formed to assist in bringing positive ad uniform standards and practices to and industry soiled by the ‘casting couch’ image. To place CSA after their name on their business cards members must qualify to join through sponsorship by existing members and actual major casting credits. Since participation is voluntary, there is no guarantee that even members abide by their own guidelines, however membership is a first test in determining how legitimate and professional a casting director is. Along with her sister-in-law, Sally Lear (who is no longer a part of the business) Lear set forth to form a viable and Hollywood standard full service casting company and eventually studio in Nevada. One caution, she does promote participation in the Nevada Players Directory, which to keep within CSA regulations is actually published by her husband under a separate business license. While I recommend participation in the Directory, please be aware that this is one of possibly several ways that Lear Casting may be sidestepping CSA regulations. Lear Casting is located just north of Charleston, at 41 N. Mojave Road, Las Vegas, NV 89101 (702-385-9000 / 474-6362 fax).
The Casting Society of Ameria, CSA is a voluntary association of professional casting directors, formed to assist in bringing positive ad uniform standards and practices to and industry soiled by the ‘casting couch’ image. To place CSA after their name on their business cards members must qualify to join through sponsorship by existing members and actual major casting credits. Since participation is voluntary, there is no guarantee that even members abide by their own guidelines, however membership is a first test in determining how legitimate and professional a casting director is. As a disclaimer, be aware that many working casting directors who are legitimate choose not to become members of CSA. The CSA web site also contains information concerning the industry for actors and those interested in careers in acting, casting or production. http://www.castingsociety.com
Never pay more than a “reasonable fee” to list with a casting director. Question paying for services directly through a casting director or promises of packaged talent kits and lessons through a casting directors office. SAG-AFTRA and other union actors should never have to pay to list. For additional information contact the Screen Actors Guild or the Nevada Motion Picture Division.
For northern and central Nevada, the established casting company, which by necessity also operates in an agency capacity, is Nevada Casting Group, located at 100 Washington St. Suite 100, Reno, NV 89503 (775) 322-8187 http://www.nevadacasting.com. Nevada Casting was also started by Sally Lear (who, as with Lear Casting, is no longer associated with the business). Since there is little union work outside of Las Vegas, Nevada Casting also is affiliated with talent representation (a potential violation of CSA guidelines and SAG contracts with the producers who hire casting directors for union projects). Nevada Casting is an aggressive and active company, with affiliations with several other casting organizations, including Lear Casting.
Listing for casting directors or agents should not be linked to classes, photographs or other services. There is a casting company in town that implies casting if you pay them and purchase a package that includes ‘free’ acting lessons. Most states, all unions and most professionals in the industry look down on and steer clear of this practice. That does not make it illegal, and it is most certainly the decision of the individual actor as to where to spend or invest their money.
Casting directors work for management and their job is to find actors to fit the role and fulfill the director or producers’ vision (several casting directors are interviewed elsewhere in his book). They do not represent talent and CSA guidelines clearly state they do not sell their services to talent. Payment of a ‘reasonable fee’ to be put on file is considered legal, but most casting directors will not charge talent (except for background actor or extra talent listings). Again, Casting directors work for and are management.
Agents work for talent, their client. Managers work directly for you as talent, or should if you select the correct manager. While the lines may be blurred in the business practices of many agencies, the delineation is clear in the SAG Franchise Agency agreement (applies to agents not managers) and in the basic ethical structure of the industry.
The job of a casting director is to submit actors for the consideration of work. “Casting Agent” is a made-up term usually used by location casting directors who predominantly find background extra talent and report to the Casting Director. “Talent Scout” is also a term that is overused, and could mean anything from an employee of an agent or casting director, to someone trying to sell you products or services.
Nevada companies that may cast roles or play host to production company casting directors include: