Actors, Agents, and Casting Directors: So Much to Learn

I’d like to start this post by saying “Beth Melsky Casting” does not teach commercial acting classes. I don’t want it to appear that I was recommending actors to take a commercial acting class from a casting director because it would benefit Beth Melsky Casting as a business, though I do feel it will benefit us because actors will come in ready with great audition skills. I’m not trying to suggest that casting directors are the only ones that can teach this. I’m just suggesting…why not get it directly from the horse’s mouth.

Onto other things: we are casting directors, not casting agents. There is no such thing as a “casting agent.” They are two separate jobs that people often confuse – “casting directors” cast and “talent agents” represent talent (actors, musicians, dancers, etc.). Casting directors are hired for a fee to cast a job. They rely on agents to find the “talent.”

I would like to talk about the job of a casting director and how the casting process works. There are three very important components:

  1. Casting director/company
  2. Talent agent/agencies
  3. Actors (let’s save “real people” for another discussion)

All three of these things are equally important to make the process work perfectly. As a casting director and casting company owner, I have casting directors and casting assistants working for me. Our profession consists of:

  1. Getting the job from a director, advertising agency, or production company.
  2. Taking the time to understand the creative, the casting spec, and all the other facts, such as union or non-union, the pay rate for actors, and making sure all rules and rates are clear and followed through on.
  3. Most importantly, putting out a great casting session and having all who are involved with the project content with the casting and able to pick a cast.

Information is different on every job and what we communicate to the agents, from the first call, is very specific. We don’t leave room for ambiguity. This way, casting directors can protect the client as well as the actor. Mutual respect and trust between casting director and agents allow for no issues at the time of bookings. If I am clear up front, it will make bookings an easy process, with a happy client, satisfied actor(s), and less arguing. Casting directors should have the knowledge to help and advise producers on how to get the best talent possible.

Beth Melsky Casting tries very hard to be very clear up front. There’s no reason to waste anybody’s time. I read all the information on money and usage that is sent to me. I tell producers of issues they may have and often, based on those conversations, things get changed or clarified. I know this doesn’t sound like what a casting director should be doing, but it’s part of doing the job 100% effectively. You would think that casting is just about bringing in and auditioning the best actors for the job but, in the end, if the client can’t have the actor they want for any reason, we have frustrated clients, leading to frustrated casting directors, then arguments with agents. We need to all work as a team – from casting director, to agent, to actor.

Once we get to the point of scheduling a strong casting session, then what goes on in the studio is most important. This is where the casting comes in. The casting director in the studio (casting directors at Beth Melsky Casting) has to have strong directing skills and work hard to get strong performances from all actors auditioning. Will every actor always be right for the role or nail every audition? No, but with casting directors working as hard as we can, we’ll have a strong casting tape and happy clients. Being directed well in an audition helps everyone. I value great studio directors. The job of the casting director in the studio is exhausting. We have to see so many people, way more than in years past, and keep the same energy going from the first audition of the day to the last audition of the day.

It is my job to get the right actors into the studio and it is the job of the casting directors that work for and with me to always do an excellent job in the studio. That’s what casting should really be about – finding the best and strongest actors and helping them do a great performance. Even if there is no “acting” in the audition, we still need great camera work, good energy, and consistency. Having a great eye for what is being looked for makes us a team. When I prep a job (set up actors), I will schedule ¾ of actors I know and leave room to meet new people. We work too fast to do pre-interviews. The casting directors that work for me always know the casting spec and will tell me if someone was just wrong for this project. I trust their opinions. This is where communication and trust comes in between the casting director and agents, as well.

Relationships are everything. We need talent agents out there meeting new actors all the time. This is how we find new actors for our sessions. The casting sessions must stay fresh. “Fresh” is a word used very often in this business. Mixing established with new actors gives clients a wider range of choices to get exactly what they’re looking for. Casting is not a dial-in business and my company takes pride in making every casting job and session as strong as it can be. At the end of the day, that is what’s most important.

Every job we do at Beth Melsky Casting is dealt with like our first. Directors that we work with all the time are as important as first-time clients and directors we work with all the time have to see new actors, as well as actors they know and like. I think it is so important for actors to understand what everyone’s job is and the important roles we all play in casting.

All of this is just my opinion written from experience and I believe that if all of this works, then we do our jobs well.

Actors, Agents, and Casting Directors: So Much to Learn

2 thoughts on “Actors, Agents, and Casting Directors: So Much to Learn

  1. Jane Kronick says:

    AMEN BETH MELSKY! Totally agree with you. No better place to learn than with a CASTING DIRECTOR who knows what clients are looking for. I used to hate when people called you CASTING AGENTS! Thanks for clarifying!

    Jane Kronick ie Traci xo


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