WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS
I truly love my job but there are frustrating moments. The greatest joy of a casting director is sitting in a cinema and watching magic happen on screen. For me this is when I see that the actor and role are perfectly matched, and that I have played a part in this process.
However there are many obstacles to us casting witches being able to wave our wands and cast the spell which convinces directors and producers to at least consider the unknown actor. Film financing nowadays is largely dependent on cast as this helps pre-sales. This means that producers want “names”. A name is an actor who has box-office appeal and who is sufficiently well known across the world to make people want to invest or pre-purchase the film. There are very few real names and these are the actors that everyone knows – the stars like Tom Cruise, Michael Fassbender, Nicole Kidman, Jessica Chastain.
As we discussed at the Casting Directors Panel at Cannes this year which I was privileged to be part of along with Nancy Bishop, Matthew Lessal and Susan Shoemaker, it is not exactly fun for a casting director trying to cast this kind of talent. It’s just a matter of trying to do a deal with their agent who normally have no or very little interest in independent film made in Europe. It’s about meeting budget and contractual requirements and finding spaces in a busy actor’s calendar. Susan Shoemaker has a great way of explaining it via the casting triangle – at the top there are the stars who everyone wants as they automatically guarantee the bankability of your Project but really where the magic happens is when you cast either an actor/actress on the way up or even on the way down.
And I don’t believe that this kind of casting makes for better films. Successful independent films usually have casting of relative unknowns who have put their heart and soul into their performance. Finding the perfect actor during the casting process is the true buzz of a casting director. When casting directors meet up these are the triumphs that we share amongst ourselves. I still remember Pep Armengol’s delight when he found the young actors for “Pa Negre”; Francesc Colomer and Marina Comas who went on to win the Goya for best new actor and actress. Discovering new talent is where the magic happens.