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Casting call for black cats, Los Angeles, 1961. The studio was seeking cats for the Roger Corman movie Tales of Terror.

In the performing arts industry such as Theatre, Film, or Television, a casting (or casting call) is a pre-production process for selecting a certain type of actor, dancer, singer, or extra for a particular role or part in a script, screenplay, or teleplay. This process is typically utilized for a motion picture,[1] television program, documentary, music video, play, or television advertisement, etc. This involvement in a dramatic production, advertisement, and or industrial video is intended for an audience, or studio audience.


Casting processEdit

The casting process involves a series of auditions before a casting panel, composed of individuals within a theatrical production such as theatrical producer, and theater director. However, within a given television production a casting panel can consist of a television producer, or within film production a casting panel could contain a film producer, film director, and/or choreographer. Usually, in nearly all areas of show business, a casting director [2] is on this panel as well. In the early stages of this process performers often may present, or are presented with prepared audition pieces such as monologues, songs, choreography, scripts and or sides.[3]

These audition pieces are usually video taped, typically in the form of screen tests and then attached with resumes,[4] as well as head shots and or viewed online via websites such as IMDb, then shared with film producers, film directors and or studio executives. Later stages may involve groups of actors both union, (SAG-AFTRA) and non union depending on the size and scope of the production, attempting to read material from the work under consideration, paired off in various combinations of two, three or more. With each of the actor's overall motivational choices evaluated, the casting panel considers both the individual actor, and the chemistry created from either one of the combinations set forth within the read-through, such as boy meets girl, etc.

Within the production of a prestigious work under consideration for film or television, and depending on the difficulty in finding a lead or supporting actor for the role, such as with the casting of the biopic films Notorious,[5] Straight Outta Compton[6] and All Eyez on Me,[7] casting calls may go out into the general public at large, this is referred to as a Cattle Call [8] (typical for community theater), to professional and semi-professional local actors where a similar process is followed (for supporting roles in theater and film) or for specifically selected actors (for leading roles, especially in films).

Casting character breakdowns,[9] not to be confused with script breakdowns,[10] are often provided by production agents who submit their clients to casting, which provides a brief summary of character (age, gender, race or ethnicity, situations they may be involved in). A more robust version of this painstaking task can be made through the Breakdown Services,[11] which was founded by former actor Gary Marsh [12][13] over 40 years ago. This was due to the difficult logistics issues for agents to get their actors submitted for acting roles from major film studios and casting directors.

This casting breakdown service provides a complete character breakdown of various scripts and projects from production companies for film, television, modeling, commercials etc., to only agencies and managers who meet certain criteria.[14]

These agents and managers are positioned all over the world, and subscribe to this service that literally has an entire suite of services for just about every aspect of the breakdown, for a monthly service subscription fee. This suite includes services such as Breakdown Express,[15] which offer representatives, casting and those who subscribe, a quicker way to post projects themselves. Another more limited version of the breakdown service, also for a monthly subscription fee is called Actors Access [16] where acting can subscribe to what is only made available to them, more like an entry level acting position, like under-five, or a bit part, a great tool for the actor whom is without an agent or manager.

An actor may go through several casting calls before receiving a part, and even though well known actors or actresses oftentimes still go through this very necessary process, some are privileged enough to have well known writers, screenwriters and or directors /producers pitch a project for their intent to be cast in a role. The well known actor or actress oftentimes negotiates producer credit as well as very lucrative monetary compensation.

Independent casting studios like Film Independent who hosts the annual Independent Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival are often utilized for casting calls so that auditions can take place in one location, as well as possible affiliated various locations saving valuable time, energy and money.

Casting Services Members can reserve casting space at the Film Independent offices Monday through Friday, 10:15 am – 6:00 pm. In addition to casting rooms, services/amenities include a check-in desk, seating for actors, WiFi and project signage. studios and casting directors.

— Film Independent, General Membership [17]

Casting directorEdit

For some major productions, the process of selecting actors for sometimes hundreds of speaking parts and roles, may often require a specialized staff. While the last word remains with the people in charge such as the director, producer, artistic departments and overall production team, a casting director [18] or "CD" (and sometimes the casting associate) is in charge of most of the daily work involved in this process during pre-production. A casting director is sometimes assisted by a casting associate; productions with large numbers of extras may have their own extras casting director as well, however in all aspects of a film or television production's budget, they are all a part of the above-the-line, answering to the director as part of his or hers staff.[19]

The "CD" remains as a liaison between director, actors and their agents/managers and the studio/network to get the characters in the script cast. Some casting directors build an impressive career working on numerous Hollywood productions such as Marion Dougherty, Mary Jo Slater, Mary Selway, Lynn Stalmaster, April Webster, Tammara Billik, Marci Liroff, Avy Kaufman, Mindy Marin, and Robi Reed.

At least in the early stages of casting and or extras casting such as with casting agency Central Casting, the process may be decentralized geographically, often in conjunction with actual shooting planned in different locations. Another reason may be tapping into each home market in the case of an international co-production. However, for the top leading roles and the choice of one or more beautiful people, whose presence is of enormous commercial importance, may rather follow strictly personal channels, e.g. direct contact with the director, and or producer/ Executive producer.

The resulting list of actors who were selected to play a character for a production, is called a cast list, which is incorporated into a production company's daily call sheet,[20] and reflected in the projects title sequence especially with film and television.

Casting Society of America (CSA)Edit

The significant organization of professional screen and theater casting in the US is the Casting Society of America (CSA), but membership is optional. Casting directors organized in 2005 and became members of a collective bargaining unit, the Hollywood Teamsters Local 399 (Location Managers Guild of America)

Emmy AwardsEdit

The Emmy Awards has a category for casting directors. As of 2017, Junie Lowry-Johnson has won the most casting Emmys as an individual, all in the drama category. She has six awards for her work on NYPD Blue, Six Feet Under, True Blood and Homeland. The only shows to win casting Emmys three times were 30 Rock and Veep, both in the comedy category. In 2017, at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences introduced the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Casting for a Reality Program.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Motion Pictures". Socialbilitty. December 14, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  2. ^ "What Does a Casting Director Do?". Huffington Post. Apr 29, 2017. Retrieved May 21, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Sides". Theatre Development Fund . Feb 25, 2015. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  4. ^ "How do I add my resume and more information about myself?". IMDb. May 21, 2017. Retrieved May 21, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Notorious". IMDb . January 16, 2009. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Straight Outta Compton - Number One Movie of the Summer". Socialbilitty. August 20, 2015. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  7. ^ "All Eyez on Me". IMDb . June 16, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  8. ^ "Cattle Call". Socialbilitty. December 15, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  9. ^ "How to Write a Casting Notice". Lights Film School. April 2, 2013. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  10. ^ "Script Breakdown 101". YouTube. Feb 18, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Breakdown Services". Breakdown Services. May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Headshot Cafe interview with Gary Marsh (founder of Breakdown Services)". YouTube. Jul 8, 2013. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  13. ^ "About Breakdown Services". Breakdown Services. May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  14. ^ "How can we contact casting directors or film directors in Hollywood as an aspiring actor?". Quora. May 12, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Breakdown Express". Breakdown Express . May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  16. ^ "Actors Access". Actors Access. May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Twinkie Byrd - Casting in the 21st Century". Socialbilitty. March 24, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 
  19. ^ "Job Descriptions for Film, Video & Cgi". Google Books. May 21, 2017. Retrieved May 21, 2017. 
  20. ^ "What is the Call Sheet on a film production?". Pinterest. September 8, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2017. 

External linksEdit