Welcome to a day in the life of a casting director’s office. Although this does not happen in every situation, I’ll give you an example of a recent day in my office. And guess what, this effects you; how fast you get the calls, when you get the calls, your avails and your bookings.
WEDNESDAY evening. I receive a call giving me a heads up of a casting that has to happen fast, or not happen at all. We either have to have a double session on Friday or one session on Friday and one on Saturday, or not at all. Callback times will be given to us on Sunday for callbacks on Monday.
I say, “OK, let’s start ironing out all the details to get our prep started early in the day Thursday in case we need to prep a double session on Friday.” I’m told there are no details yet, because the job is not “a go” and everyone is located on the East Coast and it is 8:00PM there.
Actors, let me remind you there are about 3000 submissions I estimate we have to look through for this particular breakdown. It takes an hour to prepare the project on the breakdown service, time to receive the submissions, make our selections, prepare the timing of the session, and about an hour for me to go over each session to shape up the look-and-feel of the session. Double session would be two hours to go over both sessions. The stress is mounting because if this is “a go,” there will be very little time for the prep.
My assistant and I line up staff of session runners and session directors for a possible double session on Friday or one session on Friday and one on Saturday. Plus, we put studios on hold for the varying situations.
THURSDAY 11:00AM. Job is a go. Double session on Friday. That’s the NEXT day. Details are sent to me with some still needing clarification. It is not clarified yet if the shoot will be in Colorado or Utah, as the shoot requires snow . Both places have not had a big snow fall yet. Production team is watching weather in each place to make their decision.
Thursday 11:30AM. Details ironed out; we start entering session details on the breakdown service we are using.
12:45PM Breakdown released.
We now take the only break of the day to have a little food and take a stretch before starting what we know will be extremely intense remaining day.
1:30PM Myself and two assistants start looking through all submissions. Yes about 3000. We are also thinking of whom we want to come in who was not submitted all the while manning email and phone call pitches. At this point, we are in survival mode to get the session together and we find there is not the time we would like for much creative thought and tending to pitches.
4:00PM Selections made. As the casting director, I have final say as to what the session looks like. I now spend an intense hour on each session reshaping and adjusting choices, sometimes having to go through submissions already viewed to find more of what I feel the client wants. Reshaping a session like this usually takes two hours per session.
6:00PM Session finished. Almost collapsing from stress, we click the “send” button… Agents now have your appointments.
We take a stretch, breath deep, take a little air outside the studio and shake off the stress. Breathe, breathe, breathe. We did it!
6:15PM Back to our computer screens to watch for confirmations on our computer screens, dropouts and request for time changes
7:30PM Leave the computers and wait ‘til morning to deal with the rest of scheduling problems.
8:30AM We go straight to our computers, look at the job worksheet and start seeing what roles have a lot of dropouts. We then make replacement selections.
9:15AM Start prepping outside of two rooms with proper signage and sign in sheets. Our staff of session directors and session runners start arriving. A meeting is had with all to inform everyone of the look, feel of the spot and how the two rooms will flow in tandem.
9:30AM Put more times out electronically for replacement calls for the same day.
11:00 Production company gives us a character change. New breakdown put out, selects made and times put out for 5:00 PM that very same day.
We still do not know if the callback is Monday or Tuesday. If it is Monday, my assistant and I put ourselves on hold to work on this Sunday afternoon.
SATURDAY: Receive a call that callbacks are Tuesday, not Monday.
Get in touch with session director and session runner to release their avail from Monday and book them for Tuesday.
MONDAY: 11:00AM Receive callback list. It is a complicated schedule matching people by age younger to older. The session has to be over at a specific time for all clients to fly to whatever location they choose to have the right snow.
3:00PM Schedule complete and sent out.
3:30PM Deal with actor schedule problems.
TUESDAY: Callback day
Staff arrives, we get details ready for clients. Logs, room setup, and food is set out by studio.
9:50AM Clients arrive with their luggage, as they are leaving mid-afternoon straight to the airport to fly to either Colorado or Utah depending on which location has enough snow they need for the shoot.
During callbacks clients get a call as to which location they will be shooting.
10:00AM Session starts and runs smoothly. The selection process is completed and selects are sent back to the agency and client for final approval.
Visual below shows an inside look at table of yes/maybe selects and final selections up on the board.
Now we put our strong avails on talent and wait until the bookings come in.
Travel is Monday. We should have bookings on Friday, or maybe over the weekend.
Crazy, but true. Thanks for doing such a good job at your auditions. We need well trained actors we can count on.
Any reproduction or usage of this article on other websites must be credited to Terry Berland, Casting Director and linked back to here.
Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voice-over, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has lent to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”