A casting director, also known as a talent director, assists a director in selecting actors for roles in a film, television show, play, or commercial. Actors are found, contracts are negotiated, auditions are held, and the casting budget is managed talent directors. In order to serve the needs of the production, they are usually required to work with actors, talent agents and agencies, and directors.
Typically, a talent director will read through a script and make notes on all of the casting requirements. He or she will almost certainly make a thorough list of all the roles it has — lead, minor-speaking, and non-speaking — as well as all the scenes that require extras. The talent director will almost certainly discuss the cast’s preferences, vision, or requirements with the director or producers at some point during the process.
The first responsibility of a talent director is to the director. He or she assists the director in locating actors who are suitable for each role, frequently locating actors for the director to review in an audition or series of auditions. In most cases, the director chooses the actors for all speaking roles, particularly the lead roles. On large-scale productions like feature films, the director often delegates all other casting decisions to the talent director, leaving only general casting instructions for extras and non-speaking roles.
Talent agents and agencies collaborate with talent directors to create a pool of potential actors from which the director can choose for each role. Talent directors will contact the chosen actors, often through their agents, to see if they are willing and available to work on the production for lead roles and roles where a director has already chosen his or her preferred actor. A reading with a chosen actor may be scheduled the talent director so that the director can get a sense of whether the actor is a good fit for the role.
Casting calls and auditions are also common ways for talent directors to assess actors. Auditioning allows the director and talent director to see a wide range of actors in a given role, often with the same set of lines. The number of actors in an audition will vary depending on the size of the production, the role’s scope, and the director’s needs. Talent directors usually record auditions because directors often want to review a specific actor’s performance.