What Every Producer Should Know

 

There may be many people who claim to be a “Casting Director”, however, there are many questions you should ask to be sure your project is handled with care by an ethical and professional Casting Director.  Often, the more qualified and ethical professionals are much more prepared to handle your project quickly and efficiently, which can save you money and a lot of headaches in the long run.  Don't be fooled by someone claiming to be a Casting Director who has a lower day rate, as it may not always be the least expensive or an efficient experience.  Here are some tips to assist you in finding the Casting Director who is right for your project:

 

What are the advantages to hiring a Casting Director vs. calling Talent Agents?

 

As a producer, director, ad agency or photographer, you want and deserve someone who directly represents you and the best interest of your project.  The goal of the casting director is to find the talent that best suits your needs and budget.  The job of a talent agent is to represent their client – the talent – and to get the highest dollar and most work possible for them.  Often, by hiring a casting director, you will save money on your project and remove the extra work in locating the talent on your own.  A good casting director will have developed professional relationships with legitimate agencies and have non-represented talent on file to expand your options, as well.  Hanson Entertainment currently maintains a database of over 6,000 talent, which are a combination of independent talent, as well as those represented by agencies in the area.  Don't make the mistake of hiring a person claiming to be a casting director whose only real experience has been in working with one or two primary agencies in a region.  A Casting Director with ethics will put their client first, not a singular agency or limited number of agents.

 

How can I know if a Casting Director meets an appropriate level of standards and ethics?

 

The Casting Society of America (CSA) is currently the ONLY governing body designed to ensure a level of professionalism and standards are met by a Casting Director.  To know your Casting Director meets these standards, you may simply look on their website www.castingsociety.com.  To be accepted as a member, applicants must meet a long list of requirements, and their casting experience is verified, before being accepted for consideration by the membership committee.  This committee only offers membership to those Casting Directors who are not affiliated with a specific talent agent, who do not accept money from talent, who meet the requirements of the talent unions, who have proven experience as a lead casting director on film projects and/or television projects, and much, much more.  Other sites you may search to find industry professionals may list someone as having "casting experience" who have only handled extras casting, or in some cases, have only worked corralling extras, and they may not necessarily have experience in casting speaking roles, or be familiar with ethical conduct or union procedures.  It is possible for someone who has worked as a Talent Agent to list themselves as having casting experience on other sites, as well.  However, this direct violation of ethics and conflict of interest can and should be a red flag to you as a producer.


Are there requirements by the unions (SAG/AFTRA) for Casting Directors?

There are most definitely rules and requirements by the actors unions.  Whether your project is a union or non-union job, knowing your Casting Director meets these requirements will also help you to know you have a truly professional Casting Director.  The 1997 Commercials Contract for the Screen Actors Guild, page 11, #15, clearly states:

“The Producer concurs with the Union’s desire to require independent casting agencies to treat Union members in a manner befitting their professional standing and as a matter of policy will not use the services of independent casting services who do not regularly operate from a bona fide business office with regular business hours and adequate phone service.”

“Producer agrees to give written notice to its casting employees and the Joint Committee agrees to give written notice to independent casting agencies (the names of which shall be provided by the Union) that the following are prohibited practices.”

 

  1. "A casting director shall not attend or lend his/her name to any acting school, workshop, seminar or like programs which the casting director knows either expressly or by implication promises a performer a guarantee of employment in exchange for his/her attendance at such program.”
  2. "A casting director shall not attend or lend his/her name to any acting school, workshop, seminar or like programs which the casting director knows advertises the specific role(s) or commercial(s) for which the casting director is currently casting.”
  3. "A casting director is prohibited from accepting any fee from a performer in exchange for selection for a specific role or for viewing a performer’s showcase performance.”

 

There are many, many more guidelines and rules an ethical casting director will be aware of and follow, saving you time and money, as well as fines and forms for non-compliance.  These include, but are not limited to the fact that mass auditions shall be prohibited, facilities must be available for wheelchair accessibility, being aware of and adhering to time limitations for union actors, etc.  If a casting director is not aware of these, then you can rest assured this is someone you would not want to hire and entrust your project to.