These are my notes from the SXSW 2007 mini meeting on Casting. [Personal comments and observations are in square brackets].
Working with casting directors: First, you need to have a script. Then you need finances in place (sometimes a letter of intent is enough).
Casting directors work through word of mouth. Ten weeks notice is required at the very least to begin casting for a feature.
In casting a film, the casting director will have conversations with the director and will read the script. They will take pictures and resumes to the director. Also, it’s now usually the practice to upload auditions to the web.
Casting directors are there to direct the actors in the room and then the director has sessions with them. They are part of a collaboration between the director and the actors. They use standard and non-standard avenues, eg. agents and also schools, craigslist, etc. They are not the same as a casting facilitator.
A facilitator is an assistant who gets resumes, sets up auditions and the director makes decisions.
Great actors: come prepared, ready to work, are not too chatty but still very human. They make no excuses. They are people who really enjoy their work. They’re open, smart and can be given some direction.
Hire an LA casting director if you’re looking for name talent; it’s all about connections and relationships [note: this was from a professional casting director].
Jo [one of the panellists] almost always works with another casting director. They bring different things to the table.
Local. Local means no travel days, no per diem, hotel, etc. They have to have a local address and be able to show up on short notice.
Jo: “We do like smart actors.”
Lieblein: “Thinking actors are the coolest thing.”
Actors who haven’t watched the show are not wanted.
Kids: you’re also hiring the parent!
A good casting director should manage your expectations, which will depend on the quality of the script and the project.
You should have a plan, eg. five names and a set date for passes, then cast.