Saturday was my birthday. Year is not allowed to be discussed…haha. It was nice to have a stress free day knowing that I will have casting sessions set up for next week. I went horseback riding, which is my one non-work related passion. I am always so busy talking about the stress of setting up casting sessions and the struggle to get actors to be accountable to agents and managers that I have never explained the casting director side.
I do not have a staff job. Beth Melsky Casting is a freelance company. Just like actors wait for the phone to ring, I wait for the phone to ring. Every job with a client could be my last. That is why I treat EVERY job like my first. It does not matter how big or small. It does not matter if they are paying my rate or asking for a discount. A job is a job and we do them all 100%.
The excuse, “they are not paying me enough” is not an excuse to dial it in.
You also never know what the future could bring so I always do my best. Do actors half ass auditions because they are not getting paid enough?
I feel this work ethic has served my company and I well. Favors are usually not forgotten and ending on a positive note could lead to future business.
When I started, you only needed a handful of directors/clients that understood the positives of a great casting director (once you proved to be talented), especially in New York, where most ad agencies and production companies were based. There was a lot of top-level work being done. Relationships were about my taste in actors as well as my relationship with talent agents to help provide me the option for the best actors. Every director is different and has different ideas and ways of explaining what they are looking for. Two directors could want the same type of talent but say if very differently. It is my job to understand that and if I don’t, I ask questions. Assumptions are out of the question. Understanding a director should be the number one reason a director considers you his/her casting director. These relationships mean a lot to me. I am always searching and digging to present new actors but I still understand what the director wants. My job is to understand the director or ad agency and give them what they want based on taste and understanding.
My opinion is not the point in commercials. Films are a whole other animal. You MUST have a great relationship with a director and totally get in their heads. Directors are always open to suggestions as long as you can back them up.
The thing about film that I think people miss is that we see, meet, and use these actors way before they get on the radar of independent films and then studios. They could really learn a lot from top commercial casting directors about people that are going to break. The “money” cast may already be set but the hope, especially in an independent film, is to introduce them to those actors that will break by the time their movie gets released.
I was never interested in casting sitcoms and have always been interested in casting independent films with great scripts or great people behind them. I just do not think they have the same faith in us that we have in casting their projects.
We did a pretty great job with Tony Kaye and his last film Detachment. It was a great film with a great cast. It was an independent film that many celebrities worked on at scale because of the material and the director. I have worked on many films and I am very proud of that one.
I love working on one film a year because my commercial work is very important and, most times, fulfilling. I would not mind working on a great episodic, like Billions – a New York cast, great scripts, great regular characters that can be filled in with perfection, though I think the casting is great.
I have always stayed in commercials because I have been lucky enough to cover all areas of commercial casting by staffing up properly and understanding all union rules to protect signatories as well as understanding the demands of the non-union world. I try to get actors fare rates and fare deals.
Casting directors are not going to stop the non-union world. In order to stay working we need to be great and knowledgeable at both. We need for our clients to trust that we know what we are doing – getting the best for their budgets and protecting them. We also look out to protect actors. We never want anything coming back to us.
I hope that our diligence has kept us working and that we continue for the long haul. Change is happening very fast and we need to be ready. I have many people to support as well as animals, bills, rent and mortgages. This is what I do best and want to continue to have the phone ring. This is what I will always do and want to be the best at.
Any my last thought – I am not a mean person. I am a passionate person that wants to see everyone contribute to a get great end result. I actually always root for the underdog.