Check out Back Stage’s recent article on regional markets, in which Les Spindle talks to Lana about the Northwest.
Spotlight on Regional Casting
April 21, 2011
Why cling to the major hubs when there’s work to be had from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters?
Sure, actors want to work in L.A. and New York. But other areas across the nation offer vibrant opportunities in film, television, commercials, and theater, for actors willing to step away from the coastal hubs and plant a few roots in homier soils. Back Stage checked out a few regions to see what’s available to actors of all stripes.
April 21, 2011
by Les Spindle
Lana Veenker launched her Portland, Ore.–based firm, Lana Veenker Casting, in 1999. She says Oregon offers an abundance of employment opportunities—both union and nonunion—for actors in the vicinity. “This year is predicted to be the biggest year ever for us in films,” she says, noting that there are also plenty of television roles and many opportunities in commercials, though not much voiceover work. Veenker has cast 35 episodes of the TNT series “Leverage.” She doesn’t often cast theater, she says, but will do it occasionally—and pro bono.
Among the projects she has cast recently are “Grimm,” a pilot for NBC from the producers of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” the Lakeshore Entertainment thriller “Gone,” starring Amanda Seyfried; and “Brain Trust,” a pilot for TBS. Veenker points out that the IFC series “Portlandia” has also been a boon to the Northwest casting scene. “There’s a ton of independent films shooting in the area,” she says. “It’s really cracking.”
The region offers a wide variety of shooting locations. “The cool thing about Portland is that you’re within an hour of desert, snow, mountains, ocean, cities,” Veenker points out. Furthermore, production companies are discovering a wealth of good talent in the area. “There are really great crews up here and a really strong acting pool,” she says. “Pretty much every production that comes up here is thinking they’re going to have to fly up actors from L.A. Then they realize they’re able to hire a lot of the guest stars locally, and the co-stars, even many of the leading parts.”
She continues, “The talent base here is really serious, making their own indie films and Web series and taking acting classes. A lot of people who had careers in Hollywood or New York, with long résumés, have moved here for the quality of life. So the producers don’t have to pay them for per diem or travel.”