I, like most in the casting community, have spent time reading the latest articles on the current state of casting (and the comments on those articles). It was heartbreaking to read and digest, especially as someone who learned this industry in the Southeast, where self-tapping is the most prominent form of audition, since I started working as a casting assistant and casting extra in 2007.
It makes me feel like I’m there quantum leap In this reality, self-tapes are a brand new idea, notably taking place during the week of the first in-person Artios Awards since 2020.
It feels like our process is largely misunderstood, because I assume it is. I come from a film and television background so I can’t speak for reality, commercials, VO and other casting specialties. However, from my experience, auditions are a very important part of our job, but they are just that: a part. Casting directors have a long and storied, important part of this industry that’s largely thankless and forgotten — as Sunday night’s Oscars just reminded us. Wrap up parties who forget to invite us. Articles and press that mention every actor, producer, agent and manager but pay no heed to the casting department that attaches these amazing actors who are often the reason these projects are funded and distributed. It’s worth noting that most of the casting directors are women and/or members of the LGBTQIA+ community. We ourselves are an underrepresented group in the industry, especially at department head level.
Technology has done a lot of wonderful things for our industry across the board, but has largely left casting behind. We have a significant lack of software that will streamline our process, which is why a very large part of an assistant and associate’s job is to manually create hundreds (usually thousands) of actors and enter them into various spreadsheets and spreadsheets while checking availability and track the requested auditions. seen. We spend hours downloading and uploading auditions and selfies from one platform to another. We are a department of 3 people when lucky but usually 2, handling thousands of auditions, spreadsheets, databases, cast lists, deal memos, offers etc. We are, as one casting pro said, in the middle of a seesaw between actors/agents/managers and production. Our workload has increased, but we’ve been vilified for adapting our process to the current industry standard to allow more stakeholders to see what’s benefiting all actors.
We are now expected (and required) to see between 100 and 500 actors per role. We cannot physically do this personally, and we should not be expected to do so. We should be allowed to embrace and use technology the way every other industry has. It is vital to the process. It is our process and we should be able to regulate how it works best for us and the production just like every other industry does in their interview process.
Cutting out or reducing the number of selfies doesn’t mean more in-person sessions, it just means fewer people audition. We can only see 30-50 people a day in person. My experience is that in-person auditions arguably cost actors more money and time than in-person auditions and require a certain level of privilege. Any actor who has to go to Santa Monica on a Friday at 4pm, pay for parking, work a shift, find a babysitter and spend 5 minutes in the room would probably agree. And being in the room provides no advantage or influence for the vast majority of auditions. Actors need to remember that the final decision isn’t ours, it’s the producers/directors/executives who have the final say and most of the time they make that decision based on – Yes – a tape on a link we send them. Rarely do they meet anyone in person unless it is a high profile role.
You will never be right for every single role. Nobody is. That doesn’t mean your audition wasn’t good, and it doesn’t mean we don’t notice you. That’s why the audition is the victory, you will be seen. Put in a good audition and let it go. If these audition requests keep coming, you can know without a doubt that casting is trying to book you. We want to give you as many chances as possible to get in front of producers and directors. We are by your side.
Yes, we get thousands of submissions and look at hundreds of tapes. do we see them all Yes. Are we looking at ALL? Not all of the time. When someone is right, they are right and we can see that right away. When I’m not sure, I jump to the bars where I want to see the choices the actor made. That’s how I find out who’s on the right track and that’s why selfies are so important because they allow us to meet demand and keep up with the influx of actors coming into the industry while doing our own physical and maintain sanity.
Much of the discourse seems to be from actors who see all of this as a great competition against each other, which it is not. It is anyone who does uniquely great work and offers a unique solution to a creative opportunity. Personally, I think a lot of that is legitimate anger that the industry is so tough, acting takes a lot of talent, but it also takes work, and casting is an easy target for that frustration. I get it. In the end we just need to see your performance. So much headwind seems to be the people who don’t believe us when we say: It always depends on the acting. Not the headshot, not the resume, not the role, not the production quality of your tape, not the presence in the room, not your board. It’s the acting, the auditioning, every time. And if your acting is right and you fit the role? It’s so simple it sounds stupid: That’s the magic formula. Everything else is just noise.
Alexis Allen Winter began casting in 2007 in Wilmington, NC A hill of trees. Since then she has worked throughout the Southeast before moving to Los Angeles in 2012 where she has worked in offices including Laray Mayfield, Rich Delia, Courtney Bright & Nicole Daniels, Tamara Notcutt, Gail Goldberg and Sheila Jaffe. Alexis won an Artios in 2020 for her work as a casting staffer To all the boys I’ve loved before. Since then, she has focused on the creative side of producing, connecting talent with pre-sale value to projects to help with funding and distribution.