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What Do Casting Directors Do?

written by: Kristina Dems•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 1/21/2011

Casting directors hire actors according to the requirements of the roles in the film project. Casting directors need a deep understanding of the script and the characters to acquire the best possible actors for the job.

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    Filmmaking Before we discuss what casting directors do, let us first define what their position means. The casting director in filmmaking is basically in charge of hiring acting talents for the project. This involves determining what kind of actor should be cast in a role, conducting auditions and interviews and actually hiring actors for the project. Let us discuss these responsibilities in more detail:

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    Understanding the Roles

    Before production begins, one of the most important things to be accomplished in a film project is hiring the talents to play the roles in the script. It is the responsibility of the casting director to understand the different roles and what kind of relationships exist between the different characters. This kind of deep understanding can be acquired by discussing it with the director and the producer. Sometimes, the writer also needs to be consulted to fully understand the characters and the story. They take into consideration the roles, the script, the budget and the preference of the director and the producer before creating a list of roles according to importance and the preferred actor for each of those roles. Once the casting director already has a grasp of the kind of actors they need for the project, they then proceed to holding auditions and interviews.

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    Picking the Right Ones

    For the main stars of the film project, especially the really big movies, they are sometimes determined directly by the producer and the film director. This only usually happens to really big name stars, though. In some cases, big stars still go through a casting process. For the rest of the cast, auditions and interviews must be held by the casting director to determine which talent fits a role perfectly. Usually, when a large number of people are auditioning, assistants to the casting director handle the process. Once the choices are narrowed down, the casting director can then become involved more closely.

    This process applies to all speaking roles and some non-speaking ones that still involve some acting. This is why a casting director should be familiar with acting and performing, which is why a lot of casting directors are former actors themselves. They need to understand how certain actors' acting skills would fit the role required in the film project. For roles that are in the background, the casting director usually lets assistants do the hiring for those people. This is only the beginning of the casting director's responsibilities, though. Their job continues throughout the production.

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    Qualities of a Good Casting Director

    Casting directors need to have great communication skills since they will be talking to a lot of people during the course of the casting process. They will speak to managers, agents and the actors themselves during auditions, call-backs and contract negotiations. Aside from that, they will also be in constant communication with the director and the producer up to the final decision of hiring the actors. Once the actors are signed, the casting director may need to act as a liaison between the actors and the rest of the crew, including the director and the producer. Time management skills and a lot of patience are also needed by a casting director to be successful and productive in this line of work.

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