This week CDA member and casting director Claire Catterson dished the goss on all things casting. Hint: if you are lucky to meet her, be sure to bring flowers, champagne and your line dancing shoes!
How did you get into casting?
CC: I trained as an actor initially. After a few years working in theatre and commercials, I sent my details to several casting directors who I knew who were working on a lot of great TV and Film projects. I was offered a place as a casting assistant and accepted. During my time I learnt so much about the casting process and it allowed me to slowly build a platform from there.
How do your projects differ?
CC: No project is the same. There are different elements to consider with each casting. For example, I need to take into consideration all casting requirements from the director: production needs, the availability of artists, and the time scale for casting and confirming artists. All of these points are what keeps it very interesting for me as you never know what tomorrow will bring you.
What are the perks of your job?
CC: My job has introduced me to directors and producers who I have the utmost respect for. I get to travel and through some of the projects I have worked on I have met some of my heroes. Good times!
What are the hardest things about casting?
CC: Last minute castings can be tricky or casting for a role which needs to fit specific measurements. It’s also hard after a particularly strong casting when the director has selected 2 or 3 wonderful actors and they are all as talented as each other. It’s difficult to make your choice when the level of talent is so high, but you need to trust your instinct.
How do you prefer to be approached?
CC With flowers and champagne! Ha!
I prefer emails. I like to hear from actors who let you know when they are working on something you can take a look at, stage or tv etc.
What goes into building relationships with agents and actors?
CC: Like any relationship, communications, is paramount. Trust grows over time.
Is there something you wish more actors would consider before attending auditions?
CC: Always remember the casting director wants you to have the best audition. We are rooting for you. Arrive prepared and do your homework as it makes the whole process a lot easier and far more enjoyable for everyone!
What do you wish more actors knew about the casting process?
CC: I have a very old fashioned work ethic so I would say always remember it’s just as important when the camera is not running. Casting directors are asked to give their opinions and you need to give honest feedback. This industry is 100% reputation driven.
For period pieces should actors come dressed for the part?
CC: Not unless it’s requested before the casting. But if you did turn up at the studio dressed as Rhett Butler I’d probably still let you in! 🙂
Do you prefer actors to be ‘off book’ at an audition?
CC: Absolutely! The more prepared an actor is the stronger the audition.
Should actors let you know if they’re going to be on TV or in a play?
CC: Yes, I like to hear this so I can tune in or come along to a show.
Are there any tricks to a good self-tape audition?
CC: Good natural lighting is essential. Record in a very quiet area against a plain background. Film landscape, definitely not portrait and be confident in your delivery!
What has been your favourite project to work on?
CC: I have been very lucky to work on projects that send such a strong message like the Prince’s Trust or Knife Crime films. To know you are part of something that is supporting and raising awareness for charities such as these is something very special.
What kind of hours go into being a casting director?
CC: Well, there’s a Greenwich Mean Time and then there’s casting time. Open all hours as they say! It’s definitely not a 9-5 job, but that’s the attraction for me. If you are working on a European or USA project you need to adapt to the time difference.
How does your perfect day finish?
CC: That would be spending it with my sister Eileen. The Catterson sisters love to eat so there would definitely be a lot of good food and a whole lot of laughs. And if you’re lucky, a bit of line dancing in the kitchen to finish off.
About Claire Catterson
Casting Directors Assocation: www.castingdirectorsassociation.com