Over the last few months, I’ve interviewed several people connected to Portland’s film industry who said — appropriately, as if from a script — that the state must expand or lift its cap on production tax credits in order for the industry here to grow.
The Oregon Production Investment Fund offers film productions a 20 percent tax credit on all goods and services purchased in the state and 10 percent tax credit on labor costs. But it’s capped at $10 million in credits per year. Between recurring series’ like “Portlandia,” “Grimm” and “The Librarians,” the fund is tapped pretty quickly.
“Grimm” casting director Lana Veenker and “Librarians” producer Dean Devlin have each told me this year why it’s a no-brainer to expand the program. Veenker said the state has lost productions written specifically for Portland because of the cap. Devlin told me he’d “be the first guy to break ground and build a studio if that limit ever got raised.”
When I had the chance to sit down with Travis Knight, CEO of Hillsboro-based stop-motion animation studio Laika Inc., I wanted to ask the same thing.
While it’s an unusual honor–seeing that she’s actually based in Portland, Oregon–there are quite a few CDs on this list whom actors may want to track down on Twitter and follow themselves.
(We also spot at least one New York-based CD, but nonetheless, the advice is good!)
You’re an actor—you already know that the going can get tough. And if you live in L.A., you’re familiar with seeking out the tiniest edge that will slip you ahead of your competitors. To help you find that edge, we’ve compiled a list of 23 must-follow casting directors on Twitter (listed alphabetically below). Whether they’re tweeting about audition tips or just reacting to what they’re watching on TV, their insights can be beneficial. Besides, it doesn’t hurt having your name pop up as a notification in their Twitter account.
Amy Jo Berman is former Vice President of Casting at HBO and for 14 years has overseen the casting of over 150 films, mini-series, and series. She is the founder of Audition Polish, a membership-based audition coaching program that has helped actors around the globe nail their auditions on the first take.
Risa Bramon Garcia is partnered with Steve Braun in The BGB Studio, dedicated to revolutionary acting and audition training. For the past 30 years Bramon Garcia has worked consistently as a director, producer, casting director, writer, and teacher, collaborating with some of the most groundbreaking artists in the world.
3. Tracy Byrd
Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd is a Brooklyn-born and raised casting director with more than 24 years of experience in the industry. Byrd has the vision to spot actors who can bring complicated and nuanced story lines from page to motion picture. Her work on the Sundance/Cannes-winning film “Fruitvale Station,” Stomp the Yard,” “The Blind Side,” “Notorious,” “Jumping the Broom,” and “Sparkle” prove as much. Byrd has spent decades channeling her super power of finding the perfect person for every character.
Casting Directors Sherrie Henderson & Dan Velez of Dream Big Casting say its misson is, ” … to provide affordable casting with creative passion and the determination to leave “no stone unturned” (as the great Mali Finn used to say), at the level of any other casting director working in Los Angeles today, or anywhere worldwide.”
Danielle Eskinazi is an award-winning casting director. With more than two decades casting films, television, theater, and commercials, Eskinazi has cast such talent as David Bowie, Rosanna Arquette, and Woody Harrelson, while also launching the careers of now-successful actors including Hank Azaria and Milla Jovovich.
From Twitter: “NYer for life, LA for now. Sometimes I cast actors in shows you might watch.”
Gohar is a Casting Director with Bialy/Thomas & Associates. In her six years with Bialy/Thomas, Gohar has collaborated on the casting of a variety of projects including numerous television series and pilots as well as feature films and theatre.
Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. She casts SAG-AFTRA indie feature films and series.
Jeremy Gordon is known for his work on “We’re the Millers,” “The Wolverine,” and “Knight and Day.”
10. Ivy Isenberg
From Twitter: “Casting Director living in LA, Credits include TripTank, Call of Duty, ROBOT CHICKEN, STARGATE SG-1, CURSE OF CHUCKY,etc-PROUD TO BE A GEEK !!!! ;)”
11. Matthew Lessall
From Twitter: “Casting Director, lover of film, television, theatre and of course, great acting…”
12. Caroline Liem
Caroline Liem is a casting director, audition coach and teacher based in Los Angeles. She has cast independent films, studio features, and television pilot/series.
13. Marci Liroff
From Twitter: “Casting Director, Producer, Acting Coach, Animal Rights Activist, Social Media Consultant, food lover, & all around cool chick.”
14. Ricki Maslar
Ricki Maslar, CSA is a successful casting director and producer with over thirty five years’ experience in the entertainment industry.
15. Killian McHugh
From Twitter: “Commercial Casting Director / Workshop offered with a unique, effective approach that yields national bookings and exponential self growth.”
16. Helen McCready
From Twitter: “I am an independent casting director for feature film and TV.”
17. Mike Page
From Twitter: “Manager of Casting for TNT & TBS. Just your basic Colorado guy who moved to Hollywood. Haven’t yet given up my faith in humanity. ;)”
18. David Rapaport
Casting Director for “Arrow,” and “The Flash.”
19. Cathy Reinking
From Twitter: “20 Years in the Casting Trenches (Emmy-Winning Network TV, film, theatre, web).”
20. Jen Rudin
Jen Rudin is an award-winning New York based Casting Director and audition coach, and author of the book Confessions of a Casting Director. She owns and operates Jen Rudin Casting which casts for film, television, animation and theater.
21. Russell Scott
Casting Director at Bialy/Thomas & Associates.
“Stuart Stone Casting has an uncanny ability to find the most engaging, fresh and original talent in any medium.”
23. Lana Veenker
Casting director Lana Veenker began her career in London and, upon returning to her Northwest roots, founded one of the top location casting companies in the country, Cast Iron Studios.
Thanks, Backstage! It’s an honor to be listed in such great company.
It was a whirlwind trip to Toronto for Lana earlier this month!
First stop was the Rising Stars mixer hosted by the Casting Society of America on the rooftop of the TIFF Light Box Building. The Rising Stars initiative is similar to Shooting Stars, which Lana attends each year at the Berlinale as a member of the International Casting Directors Network.
Rising Stars takes four up-and-coming Canadian actors each year, selected by a Festival jury. These four are then immersed in a series of public events and private industry meetings at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Casting directors, agents, high-profile actors, producers, studio executives, distributors, press and festival programmers turned out for a lovely brunch and a press Q&A moderated by actress Sandra Oh.
Next up was the “Wild” reception, but not without a bit of help from hair and make-up first!
Lana enjoyed reconnecting with Author Cheryl Strayed, Director Jean-Marc Vallée and other members of the “Wild” creative team at the reception on the Garden Terrace at the Shangri-La Hotel.
Finally, it was time for the highly-anticipated premiere of “Wild” at the sold-out, 2630-seat Roy Thompson Hall!
The film turned out as fantastic and full of heart as hoped! True to the spirit of the book, while also standing on its own.
Cast Iron Studios was responsible for casting around 30 of the supporting roles in “Wild,” and our actors did great! But don’t take our word for it:
“An extraordinary supporting cast” – The Hollywood Reporter
“Great performances across the board, even from actors with one or two lines” – Variety
“The supporting cast is stuffed with fine actors” – We Got This Covered
Bravo to everyone involved!
“Wild” is scheduled for release in theatres in December 2014.
Lana dropped by the KATU studios this morning to give Dave Anderson and Helen Raptis an update on all the film and television activity in Oregon in recent months.
Hear all about it: