Monday, March 24, 2008

The Art of Casting

(Note: the title of this post is intended to be ironic...)

The casting announcements for ENDINGS have been posted, and we're starting to see lots of headshots flowing into the email box. It can be a bit overwhelming. All you get is a photo (which casts the actor in generally the best possible light) and a resume (most of which contain a list of productions with which you're not familiar; not that I don't know the plays, but I don't know these particular productions of these plays)...

So you have to look over all these faces (none of which really look like what you envisioned for the role, but that doesn't matter at this stage), and figure out who to "read" and who doesn't get to read.

It's not a science, but it's also not an art. There's too much guesswork in it. I always feel, when I say "no thanks" to someone based on a headshot and resume, that I'm going to end up missing out on someone great. And I probably am, but you simply can't audition everyone.

And let me tell you, there's a lot of 20-30-something white women in Texas who are pursuing acting. We have one role in that range that we're auditioning for (ethnicity for the role is open, I should add), and most of the headshots we've received have been for that role.


Anonymous kirill photography said...

good blog!

3/25/2008 4:52 AM  
Blogger Shane Alexander said...

I think you just got spammed (or is it spamed?) by the previous commenter (or is commentator).

I don't have a Hollywood glamor shot just yet, but I was in three Round Rock High School musical productions(including Annie Get Your Gun and The Pajama game--and somehow, I am still turned out to be a heterosexual man--nothing is impossible for God). I may not be pursuing an acting career, but I have often impersonated a well prepared preacher on a stage in front of two hundred people.

3/27/2008 7:38 AM  
Blogger Chris Hansen said...

THREE Round Rock HIgh School musicals? And you don't get have a star on the H'wood walk of fame??

3/27/2008 8:30 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

I acted in high school and college plays -- and even in two short movies too -- and haven't gotten a star on the Walk of Fame yet, either. They are so finicky.

I'd love to hear more details about the casting process -- I hope you'll be able to write about that. How does a director KNOW who is the best actor for a role? Is it anything more than gut instinct?

Are you casting for all the roles now, or just the major parts?

Good luck with this and all aspects of pre-production. It certainly is exciting when you are getting ready to make a movie.

Maybe that first guy wasn't a spammer at all. Maybe he just has a poor way of saying that he, too, gets excited by an independent film coming together.

3/28/2008 7:03 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

P.S. Do casting directors really like headshots? I confess they all look alike to me. I much prefer candids, action shots, production stills--they are so much more interesting to me and, I would think, would give much more information to a casting director. Or am I wrong?

3/28/2008 7:06 AM  
Blogger Chris Hansen said...

I hope to post about auditions without saying anything too revealing...

Right now, we're casting all the OTHER roles (the major parts have been cast, but there are a lot of roles where characters appear in a number of scenes -- not "minor" roles, so they require good actors).

As for headshots -- no, they usually look very little like the actor who walks in for the audition, but you need them just to get a sense of the general "physicality" of the actor. Snapshots aren't very good because of the quality -- production stills are usually the best, but so few actors have them...

3/28/2008 7:18 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

You're kidding. I have production stills and I'm not even an actor. At least not a professional actor who auditions. I can't imagine an actor not having photos from previous performances.

Anyway, good luck with the casting. I look forward to reading more about it.

3/28/2008 7:33 AM  
Blogger Shane Alexander said...

I knew you'd be excited about my experience in acting. You know where to find me. As for Hollywood, I think they thought my portrayal of an WWII era Irish cop in NYC (in a musical my choir director wrote herself, so I am pretty sure no one has ever played that role again) a little too politically charged to award me a star on the walk of fame.

3/28/2008 7:55 AM  
Blogger Chris Hansen said...

It's really the fault of the directors and production people who fail to provide that stuff to the actors (myself included!!)

3/28/2008 7:56 AM  
Blogger Chris Hansen said...

shane -- hey, Hollywood is nothing if not political, so perhaps -- just MAYBE -- your performance left them a bit, shall we say, cold? perhaps?


3/28/2008 7:59 AM  
Blogger Shane Alexander said...

As long as you acknowledge that they know about that performance, we're cool, man.

3/29/2008 7:49 PM  
Blogger The Medievalist said...

When you cast the actor for the G. Gordon Liddy role, please call and I'll put you on my calendar...

Use my little picture to the right as a reference. I can use Just For Men on my mustache if that's a problem.

3/29/2008 8:21 PM  
Blogger Chris Hansen said...

Medievalist -- you're in luck; my feature bio-pic of Liddy is in the planning stages! ;-)

3/30/2008 8:10 AM  

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