What does a Casting Director Do?
As the union movement gets behind an organizing drive by the Teamsters we investigate what these people actually do
Casting directors, or casting agents, are the people responsible for assigning roles in a production. They’re hired by the production company, corporate client, director, ad agency and/or producers to find the best fit for each part. They reach out to talent agencies, managers and even individual talent for auditions. After reviewing headshots, demos and reels the casting director will select the person they feel is best suited for the part and schedule an audition with the director and producers.
Casting agents act as the middle man between the talent and the writers, directors, and producers. Without them, the talent would get very little direction and be left to figure out how to please the writers all on their own. Even though it isn’t the casting director’s job to tell the talent what to do, they provide tips and guide them in the right direction. By doing this, they are able to optimize talent and improve the entire production. They determine what the work will entail for each role to be cast, what the job is worth from the agency's experience, and what the client should expect with regard to the talent once employed.
With so many responsibilities, it’s no wonder why Broadway casting directors are trying to organize. In the theater industry, almost every position is organized with casting directors standing on the outside. These directors are so busy worrying about the responsibilities of their jobs that they don’t have time to worry about healthcare or pensions until they are sick with medical bills or are getting ready to retire.
The Broadway directors are moving to be recognized as part of Teamsters Local 817 and with only roughly 40 of them, they are having a hard time understanding why The Broadway League is resisting. The argument being put up is that casting directors are considered independent contractors because they have their own employees and work on more than one show at a time. With the rest of the industry protected by unions, it’s time that “doorways of opportunity” are treated with the same respect.