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Friday, November 8, 2019

AM Northwest talks 20 years of Oregon casting with Lana Veenker

by admin

On November 7th, Lana dropped in on AM Northwest to chat with Helen Raptis about Cast Iron Studios’ recent anniversary.

As reported by KATU:

Portland’s own Lana Veenker is celebrating 20 years as a casting director! In that time, she’s made a name for herself both here and abroad — having just returned from the Rome Film Festival where she rubbed elbows with Italian film royalty. Lana joined us to look back at the last 20 years of film and TV productions in Oregon. For more information about Lana Veenker, check her out on IMDb.


Many thanks to the team at AM Northwest for helping us celebrate this milestone! We’re so grateful for our community.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Marilu Henner interviews Lana on Wild, Grimm and casting in Oregon

by admin

Got a call out of the blue to go on the Marilu Henner Show on Friday, February 20th, to talk about Wild, Grimm and casting in Oregon, thanks to my college friend and long-time radio producer Gina Yates!

Marilu was a blast to chat with, but she immediately went off script, so in my attempt to answer on the fly, I failed to mention Casting Director Eryn Goodman, who is equally responsible for the casting of Wild and all of our projects. Ugh. Mea culpa!



Friday, February 6, 2015

6 Tips for Making the Small Roles Count

by admin

Coming off the heels of the critically acclaimed “Wild,” here’s some advice from Lana on making the small roles count, courtesy of Backstage.

Lana Veenker CSAWhen our office was hired to cast 40 supporting and featured roles in “Wild” (around 30 of which ended up in the final cut), director Jean-Marc Vallée wanted to ensure that each actor fit seamlessly into the fabric of the film, no matter how small the part. If even one actor felt like he or she didn’t belong, it could ruin the mood and the veracity of the film.
His attention to detail paid off. Not only did Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern turn out award-worthy performances, but the supporting cast, culled from talent proposed by casting director David Rubin’s office in L.A. and ours in Portland, has apparently been a frequent topic at Q&As and in the press. Even Bruce Dern said he hadn’t been this touched by a film in 60 years, crediting the entire cast for their performances.

So, how can an actor make the most of an audition for a minor or even non-speaking principal role, like many of the characters in “Wild”?

1. Come prepared. Just because it’s a cinch to memorize two or three lines, doesn’t mean you don’t have to do your homework. A well thought-out backstory will bring depth and originality to your character. And seriously, if you can’t be mostly off book for a handful of lines, you might be in the wrong business.

2. But don’t overdo it. Small roles often convey everyday occurrences or simple objectives. As we sometimes say in our office, “It’s not the movie about COP #3.” Just because you worked out your character’s life history in your preparation, doesn’t mean you need to stretch, “May I see your ID, sir?” into a soliloquy.

Get in, pursue your intention—as if this is something you do every day—and get out. Your homework will infuse your character naturally, without you having to hit us over the head with it.

3. Immediately establish the given circumstances and the moment before. Is it hot? Is it cold? Are you out of breath? Have you just woken up? Did your character just witness a crime? Does this scene pick up in the middle of a conversation or argument? Did you just hike 14 miles in the desert? Bring that into your performance.

4. Be present. You don’t have much time, so really listen and connect with your scene partners. Don’t just wait (im)patiently for your turn to speak, allow their lines to trigger your responses. Practice being in the moment.

5. Bring your A-game. Even the smallest role can generate your next gig. One female actor we hired for “Wild” had an improvised scene with one of the leads, but none of her lines ended up in the final cut. That didn’t stop the director from telling her he wanted to work with her again.

On another project, a director who recently landed his first big feature specifically asked us to read actors we’d cast in his low-budget thriller a year earlier. Their prior faith in him was rewarded with an opportunity to land a juicy role in a well-known franchise.

6. Do your best, then let go. If a realtor shows you a dozen houses, you may like things about each of them, but only one may suit your current situation. Perhaps you need a garage and a quiet street. Next time around, you might want something more central with a bigger yard. It’s all relative.

Likewise, what we’re seeking is the right palette. We’re not judging your acting ability as much as we are identifying an ensemble that best tells the story at hand. That’s out of your control, so just give it your all, thankful to be a part of this amazing industry.

Link to original article.

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.

Her recent projects include “Wild,” starring Reese Witherspoon, four seasons of NBC’s “Grimm,” ten episodes of “The Librarians,” and 64 episodes of “Leverage” for TNT. Gus Van Sant, Robert Benton, Guillermo Arriaga, Catherine Hardwicke, and Tim Robbins are among her past film clients. Commercial accounts include Nike, Apple, and Nintendo, and international campaigns from Shanghai to Santiago.

Veenker is a member of the Casting Society of America and the International Casting Directors Network. She frequently lectures across the U.S. and abroad, most recently at the Finnish Actors’ Union in Helsinki, Amsterdam School of the Arts, the Actors Platform in London, the Acting Studio in Berlin, Studio Bleu in Paris, and Prague Film School.

Veenker has been featured in The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today,,,, and Wired, among others.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

AM Northwest: Local Actors in the Movie, ‘Wild’

by admin

In case you missed the segment on AM Northwest this morning, here it is!

“It’s a movie based on the best-selling book by local author Cheryl Strayed.  Wild is playing now in Portland and we were happy to be joined by two local actors who played memorable parts, Jan Hoag and Will Cuddy, along with Casting Director Lana Veenker.”

Monday, December 15, 2014

PHOTOS: Portland’s ‘Wild’ Cast & Crew Screening

by ranielle

If you attended Portland’s Wild cast and crew screening on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at the Hollywood Theatre, or just want to see fabulous photos from the event, this is the blog post for you! This is just a sampling of photos taken on the night. You can find the full gallery of photos here.

Photo Credits: Nathan Coltrane & amber smith with SpokenRAD

Lights, camera, action at the Hollywood Theatre!
Casting Director Lana Veenker, author Cheryl Strayed, Casting Director Eryn Goodman, and Casting Associate Ranielle Gray.
Actors Jeffree Newman and Robert Alan Barnett.
Actor Randy Schulman with author Cheryl Strayed.
Agent Mary Dangerfield, author Cheryl Strayed, and actress Jeanine Jackson.
Ranger danger? Ranger awesomeness!
Actors Greg James and Jerry Bell.
Author Cheryl Strayed with actor Jerry Carlton.

Full gallery of photos here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Portland ‘Wild’ Premiere and Red-Carpet Madness on AM Northwest, KINK FM

by admin

On Monday, December 8th, Portland’s Cinema 21 welcomed actresses Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern, director Jean-Marc Vallée, author Cheryl Strayed, and producer Bruna Papandrea at the red-carpet premiere of Wild.

AM Northwest producer Tammy Hernandez was on hand to talk to all of them (as well as our own Lana Veenker) about the joys and benefits of shooting the film in Oregon.

Update: Catch also this segment on the Portland Wild premiere by Sheila Hamilton on KINK FM:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

TIFF 2014: “Wild” Premiere & CSA Rising Stars

by admin

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.

Lana Veenker and Actress Orianna Herrman at TIFF
Lana Veenker and Actress Orianna Herrman at the Rising Stars Mixer
Sandra Oh introducing the TIFF Rising Stars
Sandra Oh introducing the TIFF Rising Stars

Next up was the “Wild” reception, but not without a bit of help from hair and make-up first!

2014-09-08 16.44.212014-09-08 16.46.55

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.

2014-09-08 18.55.06
Lana Veenker with Director Jean-Marc Vallée
2014-09-08 19.05.37
With Producer Bruna Papandrea
Lana Veenker and Cinematographer Yves Bélanger
With Cinematographer Yves Bélanger
Actress Laura Dern and Casting Director Lana Veenker
With Actress Laura Dern
Lana Veenker and Author Cheryl Strayed
With Author Cheryl Strayed
Actress Orianna Herrman and Screenwriter Nick Hornby
Actress Orianna Herrman and Screenwriter Nick Hornby

Finally, it was time for the highly-anticipated premiere of “Wild” at the sold-out, 2630-seat Roy Thompson Hall!

Actors Jeffree Newman, Orianna Herrman, and Braden Paes with Lana Veenker
Actors Jeffree Newman, Orianna Herrman, and Braden Paes with Casting Director Lana Veenker at the “Wild” premiere
Roy Thompson Hall
Roy Thompson Hall at TIFF
The seats are beginning to fill up!
The seats are beginning to fill up!
Can you tell we are excited?
Can you tell we are excited?
Jean-Marc Vallée thanks his cast and crew.
Director Jean-Marc Vallée thanks his cast and crew
The team behind "Wild"
The amazing team behind “Wild”

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.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Oregon Film & Video Update on KATU’s AM Northwest

by admin

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.

From the new TNT series “The Librarians” to the early Oscar buzz on “Wild” (the new film based on Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling memoir), business is booming!

Hear all about it:–Video-Update-273790971.html

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

“Wild” Feature Film Casting Call

by ranielle

Wild Films, Inc. is looking for talent to fill a number of roles for the feature film “Wild”, based on the memoir by Cheryl Strayed and starring Reese Witherspoon.

CIS Logo

Interested talent must be based in Oregon or Washington, able to work as a local in Portland, and be available for an audition on Friday, September 20, 2013 in Portland and a possible callback on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 in Portland.  Shoot dates are October 5 through November 25, 2013 (though roles will likely only work one day in that date range).

Boy, 5-8 years old.  MUST HAVE A BEAUTIFUL BOY SOPRANO SINGING VOICE!  A solemn, somewhat odd child, he’s walking on the trail with his grandmother, Vera, as they go looking for their lost llama, who’s managed to find Cheryl.  He speaks in a rather formal, proper manner, telling Cheryl that his grandmother is looking after him because “I have some big problems that I don’t want to talk about with strangers.”  Kyle seems to take to Cheryl, and sings a song for her—The Red River Valley—beautifully and with feeling.  Auditioning children should be prepared to sing a portion of The Red River Valley.

Male or Female, 30s to early 40s.  Heavily inked tattoo artist doing matching tattoos on Cheryl and Paul is startled to learn that they’re getting a divorce, and tries to do a little marriage counseling.

Male, 20s.  This angry guy in dreadlocks storms out of the Ashland Oregon Post Office, furious at his treatment by the woman behind the counter.

Wardrobe for all roles: Casual
Rate for all roles: SAG-AFTRA Scale

Qualified talent who fit the above specs should attend our OPEN CALL:

Friday, September 20, 2013
Cast Iron Studios
1430 SE 3rd Ave, Suite 100, Portland 97214