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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Oscars’ Missing Category: Best Casting

by admin

Kayleigh Donaldson of IGN recently interviewed Lana Veenker of the International Casting Directors Network, and Rich Mento of the Casting Society of America, about the only above-the-line department that receives no recognition at the Academy Awards.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) added an award for Best Casting in 2020. Will the Oscars soon follow suit?

When Hollywood gets together, either in person or via Zoom, for the 93rd Academy Awards, it will be a moment for the film industry to celebrate the work they’ve done over the past year and beyond during a period of immense strife. Champagne will be drunk, teary speeches will be given, and the various aspects of filmmaking, including many oft-overlooked departments, will receive some much-earned recognition. That is, except for some notable omissions. Actors will win awards, but the people who put them on screen in the first place won’t.

For decades, the job of casting has been one of the most overlooked and easily misunderstood aspects of entertainment, from film to TV to theater to video games and beyond. Yet none of those things work without it. Every time you see a person on stage or screen (or hear them in a radio drama or play them in a game), someone had to cast them. From the central ensemble to the background extras to the voices on the phone, all of those actors were hand-picked by a casting team, and that process is one of the toughest and most widely dismissed parts of the industry.

It’s hard to look at the face of modern entertainment in all its forms and not consider the indelible role that casting plays in shaping that. Consider the work of Sarah Halley Finn, the woman who is largely responsible for filling out the cast of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, thus helping to define the blockbuster of the 21st century, or Nina Gold, the woman behind the multi-award-winning ensembles of beloved shows like Game of Thrones, The Crown, and Chernobyl, not to forget the most recent Star Wars trilogy and no fewer than six Oscar-winning films.

Finn told the Washington Post that she’s cast more than a thousand roles overall for Marvel, from Avengers to background dancers to voices in Tony Stark’s ear. Consider the risks made by Finn and her team in casting Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man at a time when he was considered unemployable by much of Hollywood, or in hiring an unknown Australian soap star as Thor. Not only did Finn have to anticipate whether these actors would be right for a role that could unfold over several movies, but she had to consider harmony between individuals who would not necessarily appear on screen together for years, interactions that fans were clamoring for thanks to their vast knowledge of the characters’ lore. How different would the MCU Spider-Man movies be if Finn and her team hadn’t anticipated that crackling chemistry between Downey Jr. and Tom Holland, putting the young Brit forward for consideration by the filmmaking team as the latest Peter Parker. For many fans of George R.R. Martin’s expansive saga, casting appropriate actors seemed like an impossible task, yet previously unknown players like Gwendoline Christie, Sophie Turner, and Jack Gleeson, to name but three, ended up being perfect choices. Our entire concept of a pop-culture hero has been remolded for a new generation by the behind-the-scenes work of people like Finn and Gold.

Of course, the director and producer are also part of the casting process, particularly on huge projects like the MCU or the like. And that only feeds into the problem for casting in that it’s something of an invisible art. As Debbie McWilliams, who cast the recent Bond films, told the Guardian last year, “If you notice the casting of a film, we haven’t done a good job.” But what goes into the art of casting?

The problem for casting [is] that it’s something of an invisible art.


“”In the same way that production designers and costume designers use their skills, creativity and discernment to bring a selection of options to the director—who then signs off on the final choices—casting directors amass a library of talent through the thousands of hours of auditions they direct, plays and showcases they attend, and films and TV shows they watch,” Lana Veenker tells IGN. She’s the Executive Board Member of the International Casting Directors Network and founder of Cast Iron Studios, which has worked on the casting of projects like American Vandal, Grimm, and Twilight. “The tremendous amount of labor this entails results in a keen eye that allows them to hone in on exactly the right actors for the part, elicit powerful performances in the audition room, and present a tight selection of the most compelling choices to the final decision-makers. When it comes to the cast, they are a production’s best resource, advocates, and guardian angels.”

Link to full article.

Many thanks to Kayleigh Donaldson and IGN for putting a spotlight on casting directors this Oscars season!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Cast Iron attends the Artios

by ranielle

Casting Director Eryn Goodman and Casting Associate Ranielle Gray made a whirlwind trip to Los Angeles in late January to attend the 2019 Artios Awards, and meet face-to-face with members of the casting community, who are so often only at the other end of a phone or email exchange from our cozy corner here in the Pacific Northwest.

Among those honored at the Casting Society of America’s annual awards ceremony were Robert J. Ulrich, Eric Dawson and Carol Kritzer. UDK Casting received the Hoyt Bowers Award for Excellence in Casting.

Former “Glee” co-stars Amber Riley and Darren Criss perform together before introducing the UDK Casting team.

Also taking home a top honor for the night was Laura Dern, presented with the Lynn Stalmaster Award for Career Achievement by #OregonMade Wild director Jean Marc Vallée. Cast Iron Studios cast around 30 principal roles in the Oscar-nominated film, based on Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling memoir.

Director Jean Marc Vallée

And though we of course cheered for all nominees and winners, we were especially glad to see so many of the casting directors we’ve worked with over the years be honored for their achievements, including David Rubin (Wild), Corinne Clark (Timmy Failure) and Jennifer Page (Timmy Failure) for Children’s Pilot and Series (Live Action) “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, Meg Morman and Sunday Boling (“In the Vault”) for Shortform Series “Relationship Status”, and Margery Simkin (Extraordinary Measures) with Michael Donovan and Associate Richie Ferris for Special Theatrical Performance Mamma Mia!.

Congratulations to all of the nominees, honorees, and winners.

Casting Associate Ranielle Gray CSA and Casting Director Eryn Goodman CSA
Monday, January 1, 2018

Open Call for Performers with Disabilities

by admin

and

present an

OPEN CALL FOR PERFORMERS WITH DISABILITIES

On Sunday, January 7, 2018, CSA members across the country are making themselves available to union and non-union performers with disabilities. Professionally-trained actors with disabilities, and those actively pursuing careers in the arts are encouraged to attend. Artists will be given an opportunity to perform a prepared scene of their choice in front of a panel of professional casting directors. The open call will offer actors the opportunity to work with casting directors who are looking to expand their knowledge of underrepresented and undiscovered talent in a professional casting environment.

Artists will be given an opportunity to perform a 2-page, prepared scene of their choice in front of a panel of CSA casting directors.

BOOK YOUR SPACE NOW – TIME SLOTS WILL GO FAST!

DATE: Sunday, January 7, 2018

TIME: 10.00am – 1.00pm

(An ASL Interpreter will be made available between 10.00am – 12.00pm.)

For more information and to sign up at PORTLAND, OR:

CLICK HERE

UPDATE 1/3/18 4:00PM — All audition slots are now full. Click the link above to send us your information to be notified about future PWD casting calls.

For other locations (including, but not limited to, Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY, Chicago, IL, Albuquerque, NM, Berkeley, CA, St. Louis, MO, Eagle, ID, Bountiful, UT [Saturday, January 6th], Richmond, VA, and Atlanta, GA), please check the CSA Inclusion and Diversity Facebook page for updates and times.

Questions, or if you’re in a location where a CSA office isn’t available?

Please email: CSAInclusionandDiversity@gmail.com

Special thanks to: SAG-AFTRA Equal Employment Opportunity & Diversity Department, NBCUniversal Talent Infusion Programs, Paramount Pictures, KMR Diversity Department, Christine Bruno, Eco Cast, The Deaf West Theater, RespectAbility, Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0, and The Ruderman Family Foundation.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

CSA Open Call for Transgender Actors a Global Success

by ranielle

On Sunday, October 22, 2017, 45 CSA members saw approximately 500 underrepresented transgender actors (including non-binary, gender non-conforming and genderqueer actors) in 12 locations across 5 countries.

PORTLAND TEAM (L to R): Ranielle Gray, Casting Associate CSA and Eryn Goodman, Casting Director CSA.

We here at Cast Iron Studios are grateful for the opportunity to partner with CSA and the CSA Inclusion & Diversity Committee for this landmark open call.

Participating talent, Jamila Loubriel. (Photo provided by talent, with permission.)

The day was a big success and we were excited to meet a new pool of up-and-coming actors.

Participating talent, Denise Chanterelle DuBois (Photo by James Westby; used with permission)

We look forward to doing it again next year. Many thanks to everyone who turned out, and here’s to more equity and diversity on screen!

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Open Call for Transgender Actors

by admin

Cast Iron Studios teams with the Casting Society of America to hold open casting call for transgender actors on Sunday, October 22, 2017


Update: Barring any cancellations, all spots are currently full. Please join our mailing list, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the loop about future casting calls and general auditions. You are also invited to join us at our upcoming Meals for Monologues food drive and open casting call, benefiting the Oregon Food Bank on November 28th, 2017. All are welcome!

On Sunday, October 22, 2017, Cast Iron Studios, along with CSA members around the world, will be opening their offices to union and non-union transgender actors (including non-binary, gender non-conforming and genderqueer actors). Artists who are professionally trained as well as those actively pursuing professional careers as performers are welcome to attend. Artists will be given an opportunity to do a prepared scene in front of a panel of professional casting directors.

The open call will offer underrepresented actors the opportunity of auditioning in a professional environment, while introducing casting directors to undiscovered gems and a pool of talent who, with the right training, could become the next generation of diverse film and television stars.

To register, please follow this link.

Things to know:

  • As a limited number of spots are available, please only register if you have previously taken acting classes and/or have performed professionally (on stage or on camera).
  • If you are represented by a Northwest talent agent and already known to our office, we encourage you to leave these spaces open to new and unrepped actors. You are welcome to submit a self-taped audition to us instead. Please contact us via your agent to make arrangements.
  • Your scene should be 1-2 minutes long and ideally be a dialogue between two people. You can bring your own reader, or an extra set of pages and one of our staff will read with you.
  • You’re welcome to use one of our sample audition sides or choose your own. Pick a scene that best represents you and your ability.
  • If using our sample sides, please prepare only the lines of the character whose name appears at the top of the page; the off-camera reader will read all of the other characters. You may disregard character descriptions and change gender identifiers as you see fit. Be sure to bring an extra copy for the reader, if you’ve made any changes to the dialogue.
  • NOTE: Participants will be required to sign a basic release allowing CSA members to view and internally distribute scenes.
  • If you can no longer attend, please be sure to cancel your audition via the registration link, so that others are able to participate.

To register, please follow this link.

Please help us spread the word about this opportunity!

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Eryn Goodman Celebrates 10 Years, Joins CSA!

by admin

It’s hard to believe, but as of the beginning of September 2015, Casting Director Eryn Goodman celebrates ten whole years with Cast Iron Studios!

Eryn Goodman CSA
From recent college grad to new mom, Eryn has grown with the company–and helped us grow–so we are proud to honor her achievement.

(It’s also a milestone for Cast Iron Studios, since she’s the first employee–not including Lana!–to hit the 10-year mark. Yippee for CIS!)

Just in time for her anniversary, Eryn got the news that she has been inducted into the Casting Society of America. (That’s Eryn Goodman CSA to you!)

CSA Logo

Congratulations, Eryn, and thank you for helping us make Cast Iron Studios the best casting company north of Los Angeles!

Eryn and Margaret OMPA