Commercial Audition Class with Megan Foley Marra

Commercial Audition Class with Megan Foley Marra

Megan Foley Marra has cast iconic commercials such as the James Dean look-alike spot for McDonald’s, the Tostitos spot led by Chris Elliott (Schitt’s Creek) with the “I smell refund” tagline and the Jerry Seinfeld-starring American Express campaign. With almost 30 years of experience, which includes casting more than 3,500 commercials, Foley Marra knows a thing or two about the audition process. She took the time to virtually sit down with Casting Networks and provide her own mini-class on the topic. Keep reading for four of her key takeaways regarding the process of auditioning for commercials.

1. Have fun.

We can tell right away if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, and for me, that’s a big thing. I suggest thinking about it as a party. Let’s say you’re at a get-together talking to some people who are just kind of there but not really enjoying themselves. Then, you look across the room and see a group that’s having a great time, and you’re naturally drawn to them. It’s the same way with auditions. Casting directors are drawn to actors that are having fun with their read, as are the clients. Even if you’re not feeling it, at least try and have a good attitude. I’ve seen talent who acts like it’s a pain to audition, which is of course a big turnoff.

2. Learn the copy and understand why it’s there. 

It’s your job to know the copy and to be able to properly say the dialogue. In order to deliver it well, you also need to have done your homework and dissected it. Figure out why the words they chose are important. For example, if you’re auditioning for an allergy medicine commercial in which you play a grandma, think about her dialogue. Let’s say the line is, “Now I can breathe easy.” What does that mean to her? Maybe alleviating allergy symptoms allows her to do things she wasn’t able to before and helps her better enjoy time with her grandchildren. Put your own spin on the meaning behind the words, which means making a strong choice that fits you. But, also keep in mind that your take on the copy needs to align with what the client wants to say about their product.

3. Believe you can book it.

I’m known for thinking outside the box when it comes to casting. Recently, we were casting a role that was supposed to be played by an actor who was slight in build. We had a guy come in who was around 350 pounds but just owned the character. He was fabulous and booked the role. Actors will so often psych themselves out because they don’t think they have the right look for the character that they’re auditioning for. But you don’t have to be just like what the breakdown describes. You have your individual essence to offer and can make the role your own. Embrace what you bring to the character instead of taking yourself out of the running because you don’t think you’re right for it.

4. Be ready for opportunity when it knocks.

I did a Discover commercial a while back that called for a male lead. But the client didn’t like any of the guys they saw for the role, so I brought in a couple of women, one of whom was the terrific Kathleen Bailey. The client loved her, and when I told her rep that we wanted to put her on avail for the commercial, it turned out she was on avail for another project with the same shoot date. But they worked it out so that one production had her in the morning and the other got her in the afternoon. Because she had all her ducks in a row and was ready for the opportunities that came her way, she got to shoot two national commercials on the same day. The right jobs will find you, but you have to be ready for them. I think that all actors need to be hypervigilant about their careers. Right now, that means having a self-tape set-up always fully assembled and in working order so that you can do quick turnarounds on your submissions. And in-person auditioning will return at some point, which means it’s important to make sure those skills are still sharp so that you can perform to the best of your abilities when you’re in a casting office.

The casting director welcomes people to connect on her Facebook and Instagram pages, and those interested in learning more from her can check out the Foley Marra Casting site, which offers a variety of classes for actors. You can also find information on the other half of her casting team, Chuck Marra, who has been Foley Marra’s partner “in business and in life since 1987.” As for their next project, she shared during the interview that the duo is developing a way to help actors outside the classroom as well. “A lot of people are going to be needing new material for their reels after this time,” noted Foley Marra. “We’re going to start making reels for actors because we have the casting experience and the production skills to help them get what they need.” It may come as no surprise that Foley Marra is continuing to find ways to help actors, considering her take on casting. “Our joy is to make everybody look good, to make the actors shine and to make all of our clients shine, as well,” the casting director asserts.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

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Get to Know the Casting Director: Beverly Holloway

Get to Know the Casting Director: Beverly Holloway

For this installment of Get to Know the Casting Director, we’re featuring someone known for films like I Can Only Imagine and The Ultimate Gift, as well as series such as The Chosen. Beverly Holloway also cast Netflix’s recent film A Week Away, which made it onto the streamer’s “Top 10 in the U.S. Today” list. With a number of projects in the works, Holloway still found time to virtually sit down with Casting Networks and provide a window into the person behind the credits.

It’s great to virtually meet you, Beverly, and I’d love to start at the beginning. When was the moment you knew that casting was for you?

It’s interesting because when I first started out in the industry, I was casting but I was also working in several other production positions. At different times I’d be an assistant director (AD), a second AD, a production coordinator, etc. In the beginning, I really wasn’t sure which was the right fit for me, but I always ended up coming back to the casting work. So there wasn’t necessarily a specific moment when I knew, but eventually, everything else fell to the side because my heart was in casting. And casting is a great marriage of what I feel are two sides of me. I’m both creative and business-minded, which makes sense because my mom was an interior designer and my dad was an engineer. Casting unites the two predominant skillsets that I have, and the production experience has been invaluable to my career. It’s an asset to really understand how all the pieces fit together and how the actors fit into the bigger picture, as well.

I love hearing about that journey to where you are today. Speaking of which, congrats on the success of A Week Away on Netflix! What can you tell us about the casting process for it?

Thank you, and I’m so glad it’s resonating with people. As far as the casting process, I’ll say first off that I felt very connected to the material. I grew up going to summer camp and then became a camp counselor. Plus, I’ve been involved with music my whole life so it was just great to be a part of this project. I loved that we were looking for actors who could also sing and dance and that we weren’t necessarily looking for names. I worked with Regina Moore, a Casting Society of America member based in Nashville, and we did a casting search in multiple cities throughout the country and found these unmined gems of talent all over the place. That’s always fun as a casting director; to find actors who haven’t had their chance to shine yet, especially when they step up to the challenge in such wonderful ways. As for the lead actors, it was great to work with Bailee Madison because she’d been on my radar for a very long time. I didn’t realize she could sing or dance before casting the film, though. That was such a wonderful surprise. And I’d known Kevin Quinn from the Disney series Bunk’d, but I didn’t know he had such elevated musical abilities either. So it was just a joy getting to see the depth of all the talent and watching everything unfold. I’m in awe of all their creativity.

That’s great to hear how it all came together. Now here comes one of my favorite questions to ask casting professionals. If someone were to make a film about your life story, which actor would you cast to play the role of Beverly Holloway?

[Laughs] This is a weird thing to think about because it flips the table on me as a casting director. But I guess if in this hypothetical situation it was a comedy film, Melissa McCarthy would be amazing to have because of her personality and comedic timing. She’s just brilliant. And then for drama, I’d actually go with Dame Judi Dench because who doesn’t want to be played by one of the greatest actors out there? She just classes up whatever she does and definitely elevates the story of each project she’s in.

Those are two fantastic choices. Speaking of inspirational work, can you share a casting director or two who inspire you?

Deborah Aquila has always been someone whose work I’ve aspired to since I first started casting. I have great respect for her and the work she does. Jessica Sherman also comes to mind. She uses her platform to do good and to put out positivity into the world and into our business. Her casting work inspires me, as well as the way she goes about it, which includes actively encouraging actors with her social media.  

Yes! Between the Coffee with Casting conversations she hosts on her Instagram page and the nonprofit she founded that raises awareness and funds to support the fight against breast cancer, it’s awesome to see how Jessica Sherman gives back. And as we wrap, can you share what is on your watchlist at the moment?

I am eagerly and not-so-patiently waiting for the new seasons of two of my favorite shows: Billions and Succession. I think the casting for the latter is interesting, out-of-the-box, and unexpected in so many ways. But it all works, and the performances are amazing. I also love shows like Young Sheldon, which is a fun family comedy that kind of harkens back to an era gone by. I enjoy the writing on that and appreciate what an impressive job it was to cast because of the icon that Sheldon was on The Big Bang Theory. As a night owl, you can also find me watching reruns of The Golden Girls and Frasier that run at one in the morning. They’re timeless since the basics of comedy don’t change. Shows like that can still keep viewers engaged because they’re that good, and there’s a lot to still be learned from them. I will say, though, that The Golden Girls theme song is impossible to get out of your head once it’s there. 

Holloway shared during the interview her take on the casting profession as a whole, which many actors may find reassuring. “In order to do this job, you have to genuinely love people and you have to genuinely love actors,” she asserted. “I think you’ll find that most casting directors feel that way.” Those interested in learning more about Holloway can find additional information on the Beverly Holloway Casting site.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

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5 Things to Consider When Self-Submitting

5 Things to Consider When Self-Submitting

Just because you’re signed with an agency doesn’t mean your personal hustle stops. But self-submitting and booking outside of your agent comes with its unique challenges and considerations. On one hand, submitting on your own drives up the numbers, which drives up your chance of getting seen and booking, right? But on the other hand, once you sign with an agent, you’re part of a team. And the team might not always agree on what projects are worthwhile. As you navigate the ins and outs of self-submitting, here are some tips to help keep things safe and professional.

  1. Keep Submitting Yourself. When you have an agent, it’s easy to let this part fall to the wayside. But to keep your audition numbers up, you want to make sure you’re an active participant. Keep searching through Casting Networks and other casting platforms. If you do voiceover work or audiobook narration, look for platforms where you can put up your profile and demo tracks. Remember, your agent has many actors on the roster, and no one knows your work better than you. You might find a gig that would otherwise be missed or passed over.

  2. Communicate With Your Agent. Even though you’re submitting for and possibly booking projects on your own, remember that you and your agent are always a team. Be open and communicative about the projects you might be booking. Have your agent look over any contracts before you sign them. For one thing, they may be able to help you negotiate better terms. For another, you don’t want to lock yourself into a project that pays pennies without letting your agent know, only to have them submit you for better paying work that conflicts. Make sure you’re both on the same page about when and where you’re submitting.

  3. Remember to Factor in Fees. When looking at rates for projects you’re submitting to, remember to mentally factor in agent cuts and other expenses when you’re determining whether something is worth it. Sometimes these can be negotiated, but it’s important to keep in mind. If you’re auditioning for an audiobook, unless you have a home studio, remember you’ll have to factor in studio rates, and possibly hire an editor. Don’t say yes to something off the bat without considering what it might cost you.

  4. Watch Out for Scams. Safety and legitimacy can become a much bigger problem when you’re submitting on your own. Be extra careful to watch for red flags. Look up casting directors and production companies to make sure they’re legit. Ask other people in the industry if they have had experience with new parties. Watch out for anyone asking for money. And if you still have questions, run it by your agent.

  5. Think Creatively. The advantage to self-submitting is you get to look for things that may not otherwise ping your agent’s radar. If you have acting-related skills that you’re not necessarily represented for (such as voiceover acting), self-submitting might be a good way to expand your acting career. Keep your eyes and ears peeled as you network and explore the industry.

The actor’s hustle is a lifelong endeavor. The more you submit yourself, the better you’ll get at sorting through legitimate projects that are worth your time, and the ones that are better passed over. As long as you’re keeping things honest and professional with your agent and management, there’s no reason you should stop self-submitting.

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Commercial Audition Class With Danielle Eskinazi

Commercial Audition Class With Danielle Eskinazi

For this installment of Commercial Audition Class, we’re featuring a casting director whose commercial portfolio includes some big-name campaigns such as the Coca-Cola Energy spot that starred Martin Scorsese and Jonah Hill. She’s also the casting director behind the 2016 Super Bowl commercial for Bud Light led by Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen. Additionally, Eskinazi is behind the cast of the viral Skittles commercial with the iconic line of “Hit me again, Tube Sock!” She even won a Daytime Emmy for casting Jason Zada’s short film about the Facebook app Take This Lollipop. With more than 3,000 national and regional spots to her name, the casting director has a wealth of experience to draw from when it comes to teaching actors about commercial auditions. Eskinazi took the time to speak with Casting Networks and provide her own mini-class on the topic. Keep reading for six of her key takeaways regarding the process of auditioning for commercials.

1. Come as prepared as possible.

Get ahold of the breakdown beforehand and make sure you’re ready for everything it covers. That includes dressing for the essence of the character you’re portraying, which doesn’t mean fully costuming yourself. For example, if your character is a person who rides horses, you don’t have to wear a cowboy hat and full get-up. But you can put on a plaid shirt to suggest the character, which will help the client visualize you in the role. Being prepared also means having all the technical aspects of a live, remote audition covered. Set up a room or a space in your home that is always ready to go so that we can focus on your performance during a Zoom audition, rather than on technical issues that could’ve been avoided.

2. Make your scheduled audition time if at all possible.

It takes a long time for casting directors to put together their perfect audition schedule, which also factors in group castings like putting together a family. If you have a hair appointment already scheduled and you receive an audition that takes place at the same time, I’d recommend trying to move the hair appointment. Because if you can’t make the slot we give you, we may have to cancel your audition. And showing up on-time for your scheduled appointment tells the casting director that they can depend on you.

3. Limit your takes for self-tapes.

Actors can sabotage themselves when doing self-tape auditions by thinking that the next take will always be better. Don’t get in your head about it, derail yourself, and wind up with 13 takes. If you limit yourself to just three takes, one of the first two is likely going to be your best one. Send just that one in instead of submitting multiple takes. You can send in a second one if you really want to, but we’ll probably just look at the first. We generally know within the first 10 seconds of a self-tape if the actor is right for the part or not.

4. Always send a link.

If you’re going to send casting a self-tape, always make sure it’s easily accessible. That means uploading it and then sending a link to us where it can be viewed. We should be able to click on the link and be taken straight to where we can watch the self-tape. If you send it in a way where we have to download it, chances are we won’t. We don’t have the time to figure out how to access it in that way, and it also runs the risk of coming with a virus. 

5. Stick to the direction given for the character.

Try not to go overboard with your performance to the extent where we don’t know what’s going on. It’s fine if you want to add a button here and there, but keep in mind that the writer will be watching your take. Don’t go completely off-book. It’s a commercial so you’re not building a huge, theatrical character. You can put your own little spin on it, but don’t give a full performance from Gone With the Wind when that’s not what we asked for. We don’t need that.

6. Don’t continue on in the audition process if you know you’re unavailable for the project’s shoot date.

A lot of actors think they should still go to a callback because it’s a good opportunity to be seen, even if they wouldn’t be able to shoot the commercial should they book it. That’s going to have the opposite effect of what they want, though. I’ve had actors book a role and then tell me they aren’t available to shoot it because they’ll be in surgery. Appointments for surgical procedures are made pretty far in advance so if you tell us a few days before the shoot date that you’re no longer available for that reason, it makes us lose trust in you. And that makes us less likely to bring you in again for future auditions. It’s really important to just be honest.

Eskinazi wrapped her interview with one last lesson for actors. “Acting is an art, but it’s also a business,” the casting director pointed out. She recommends actors have a website where their reels, resumes, and other marketing materials can all easily be found in one place. Eskinazi also suggests that actors are active on Twitter, a platform on which they can follow filmmakers and interact with casting. She notes that it’s not a space where actors should overstep boundaries, but they can have casual conversations there “like you would at a cocktail party.” Eskinazi has a strong presence on her own @DanielleCasting page, where she often shares helpful industry information. “I try to let actors know what’s going on in the business,” she noted. “When things are slow, I like to share it so that actors know it’s not just them.” Those looking for additional insights and lessons from the experienced casting director can check out the classes she offers on the Danielle Eskinazi Casting site.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

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Commercial Audition Class with Arlene Schuster

Commercial Audition Class with Arlene Schuster

Welcome to the newest series at Casting Networks: Commercial Audition Class. We’re kicking it off with a casting director whose commercial portfolio includes iconic campaigns like Nike’s “frozen moment” spot with Michael Jordan, Capital One commercials with Jennifer Garner and the Emmy-nominated “magazine buyer” spot for Bud Light. Arlene Schuster is the founder of asg casting and has a wealth of information to offer actors auditioning for commercials. Schuster took the time to virtually sit down with Casting Networks to provide her own mini-class on the topic via seven key takeaways regarding the process, including pandemic-related changes.

1. Have a current headshot. 

People may have been putting off the process of shooting updated headshots because of COVID-19. If that’s the case, you’re now at least a year older than the headshot you’re using, and your style has probably changed during that time. We want to know what you look like now instead of finding that out on a self-tape or during a virtual audition. That is not something we want.

2. Carefully follow the instructions given by the casting director.

Every audition is going to come with different notes. The instructions are going to be unique to the casting director, as well as to the specific job for which you’re auditioning, which means they can change from one audition to the next. Don’t assume that you know what you’re supposed to do just because you’ve auditioned for that office before. Read through every single note. It’s important to follow the directions on how you should slate, how you should do the takes, how many takes you should submit, framing, etc.

3. Familiarize yourself with virtual auditioning.

That includes familiarizing yourself with all the current virtual platforms and how to get on them. You should not be surprised by how they work at the time of your virtual audition and end up being late for it. You can start by making sure you’re ready to go on Zoom, Hey Joe and BlueJeans.

4. Make certain you’re prepared to self-tape at home. 

Your self-tape set-up should be easily accessible, and it should allow you to create videos that are of good quality.

5. Clearly state if you are out of town and auditioning virtually or with a self-tape. 

Some productions may have a problem with the turnaround time in relation to testing and COVID-19 precautions. For a long period of time, we could not fly in actors because people traveling into California needed to do a two-week quarantine once they got here. Actors in places that didn’t have the same requirements as our state thought that if they booked a project in LA, they could just jump on a plane to go film it. But that wasn’t the case, and when actors don’t communicate that they’re out of town, it causes a lot of problems with our casting process.

6. Put up a video reel that showcases your abilities.

It’s always helpful for us to be able to watch what you can do, especially these days when in-person auditioning is limited. Anything that can help us understand a little bit more about your strengths is appreciated. That could include footage that shows your skill with dialogue, singing, comedy, etc. Plus, upload anything that can help us understand the essence of who you are as a person.

7. Check to make sure you have everything covered so that you can give your best performance.

By taking care of the different aspects I mentioned in regard to your audition, you’re telling casting that you’re a professional. Actors need to prepare and get potential audition issues out of the way so that they can put their best foot forward. For example, it’s hard to see an actor’s talent during a virtual audition if they have a problem using Zoom because they didn’t familiarize themself with the platform ahead of time. The same goes for if they didn’t check their WiFi beforehand and it’s spotty during their audition. So get all the logistics figured out in order to focus on your main job: continuing to further your abilities so you can be the best actor possible. Putting all that together will help you get the callback and book the project. 

Those interested in more audition advice from Schuster can go to the @asgcasting page on Instagram, where the casting director will periodically go live to answer questions and connect with actors. (You can check out the IGTV section to view past live sessions.) She’s also active on Clubhouse, and users can find her on that platform as well. Actors looking for additional training can check out Camera Left / Stage Right, a collective founded by Schuster and her asg casting partner Justin Radley, which now offers classes focused on techniques for virtual and self-taped auditions. The two casting directors oversee the class formats and hand-select teachers for the offered programs, as well as pop in for Q&A sessions. As for wrapping up the takeaways Schuster shared with Casting Networks for this mini-class in print, the casting director left us with one last lesson. “The [audition] game has been upped,” she noted. “A lot more people are in the game because it’s virtual… and it’s here to stay in different ways. It’s not like you can just throw virtual and self-tape auditions for commercials away [in the future].” Those who want to start giving their best auditions now and in the days to come would be wise to take all of Schuster’s lessons to heart.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

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Get to Know the Casting Director: Erica A. Hart

Get to Know the Casting Director: Erica A. Hart

For this installment of Get to Know the Casting Director, we’re featuring someone on the list of nominees for this year’s Artios Awards. Erica A. Hart was nominated within the Micro Budget — Comedy or Drama category for her casting of Jeremy Hersh’s The Surrogate. Hart has also worked as a casting associate on projects such as Freeform’s The Bold Type and Epix’s Godfather of Harlem. She’s currently casting two shows for HBO Max and a new pilot for ABC, but Hart still found time to talk with Casting Networks and give us a window into the person behind all the credits. 

Let’s start at the beginning. When was the moment you knew that casting was for you?

Well, I think the interesting thing about casting is that a lot of people have it find them, and I was definitely one of those people. I went to NYU for film and TV thinking that I was going to be a director, and then I thought about editing. I was still figuring it all out as an 18-year-old freshman when a classmate asked me to help with a film she was making. She only wanted to wear one hat for it, though, as the director. When we were going over the crew list, one of the last roles listed was casting director. I’d never really heard of the position, but I had a dance background and was familiar with choreographing pieces and then putting people in them, so I figured I could do it. I ended up becoming known for casting, or “that thing,” as my classmates referred to it. I sort of had a monopoly on this little niche area of the industry at a school where students were very competitive about better-known positions like directing and writing. So I’ve been casting projects since October of my first year of college up until now, and I just fell in love with it. You get to be a connector between so many different roles in the industry.

I love how it started as “that thing” you did and blossomed into the career you have today. Speaking of which, congrats on the Artios nom for The Surrogate. What can you tell us about assembling the cast for it? 

I tell people all the time that The Surrogate was a labor of love. I was lucky enough that I had gone to school with a lot of people on “Team Surrogate.” I met the writer and director, Jeremy Hersh, on my first day of college. His knowledge of actors is so vast because he loves the theater, and The Surrogate is a love letter to New York City actors. There are so many powerhouse performances in this film. Watching Jasmine Batchelor lead and push this film was also something I was very privileged to see from the first audition and then on screen. This film is also a love letter to Black women because many Black women don’t get to be the leads of film or television. The Surrogate reminds those watching that Black women are leading women.

That’s so important for people to understand. And speaking of films that inspire, can you list one that has been a casting inspiration for you? 

One of my favorite films and casting inspirations is Doubt, which I think is just a masterclass in all aspects of filmmaking. That extends to the cast, which of course includes names like Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams. But then there’s Viola Davis, who captivates your attention the whole time during that incredible seven-minute scene. I believe that “good casting” is when you look at the person playing the role and you can’t picture anyone else playing it. That happened in Doubt. If you replaced any of the actors, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad film, but it would be a totally different one.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen Doubt, and it’s definitely going back on my watchlist. And now it’s time for one of my favorite questions to ask casting directors. If someone made a film about your life story, which actor would you cast to play the role of Erica A. Hart?

Well, first we’d have to have a long discussion about it. I’d tell her, “Girl, buckle up for this ride. Just breathe, pray, and go with the flow.” [Laughs] But as for the person, Tessa Thompson comes to mind. I think she’s grounded, has a sense of humor, doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously, and really has a voice in the community. Plus, the range! From Sylvie’s Love to Creed to Dear White People to For Colored Girls, she can do so much. I also love Gugu Mbatha-Raw in a number of projects like The Morning Show, Belle and Easy. I would be thrilled for anybody to play me, but it would be such an honor if either of those women would. 

When asked what was on her watchlist at the moment, Hart named a wide range of titles from The Real Housewives of Atlanta to Sanford and Son to Mrs. Doubtfire. “I just want to laugh right now, and I’m also lucky that the projects I’m working on are comedies.” But she’s still keeping up with newer drama series such as Unorthodox and praised the work of its star Shira Haas. Plus, Hart shared that WandaVision is up next on her watchlist after she finishes The Queen’s Gambit. And the casting director left us with one last insight into her profession as a whole. “Every time a casting director watches something, it’s research,” Hart noted. “We’re always on.” 


This interview has been edited and condensed. 

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New Talent Search Launched for ‘The Crossover’ Television Series Adaptation for Disney+

New Talent Search Launched for ‘The Crossover’ Television Series Adaptation for Disney+

Kim Williams (Madea’s Big Happy Family, Why Did I Get Married Too?, The Boondocks) and Jessica Daniels (The Forty-Year-Old Version, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Lucky Grandma) have launched a talent search for two roles in the upcoming television series adaptation of the bestselling, Newbery Award-winning novel The Crossover. Casting is seeking two Black male actors 11-15, to play 13 years old twins.

The Crossover is the coming-of-age story of basketball prodigy twins Filthy and JB who learn that even though they have so much that binds them together, growing up is all about discovering what makes us unique.

The deadline to submit is March 22, 2021, so please submit as soon as possible as to not miss your chance! For more information and to submit, click here.


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Casting Directors Weigh in on Their Artios Nominations for Film

Casting Directors Weigh in on Their Artios Nominations for Film

With the Artios Awards rapidly approaching, we wanted to take a look at the casting directors who are nominated this year for their work on feature films. We already covered the first list of nominees that the Casting Society of America (CSA) released, which included the areas of TV, short film, short form series and theater. You can find out what some of those nominated casting directors had to say about receiving the honor here.

But with the later-released list of this year’s film nominees comes a whole new slew of casting professionals being honored by their peers. That is, casting directors who are CSA members in good standing can vote to determine both the Artios nominees and winners. Per the CSA website, “the criteria are originality, creativity, and the contribution of casting to the overall quality of a project.” 

It’s already an accolade to be nominated for an awards show, in general, but to garner such recognition from one’s peers may add extra weight to getting the nod. We wanted to know how some of the casting directors nominated for their work in film felt about receiving such an honor. With the help of CSA, we heard from a number of casting directors nominated for their work in a variety of film categories. Keep reading to find out what some of this year’s Artios nominees had to say about the distinction and what it means to them. 


Julia Kim for receiving a nomination in the category of Low Budget – Comedy or Drama for Minari:

“I’m a big movie fan, and when I watch something, the casting director (CD) in me loves to imagine how the CD for that project found a particular actor or why they thought of someone so out of left field for that specific role. So to have the same people whose work I draw so much inspiration from recognize a film that I’m a part of is really quite a thrill. There are so many people responsible for Minari being the beautiful movie it is, but our producer, Christina Oh from Plan B, should really be celebrated for the way she steered the ship.” 


Kimberly Hardin for receiving a nomination in the category of Studio or Independent – Drama for One Night in Miami:

“I am so grateful for this honor. It was such a tremendous journey casting this historical story of those four iconic men. Working with Regina King, my dear friend for over 25 years, was a sheer delight. I want to thank the producers, Keith and Jess Calder, for always inviting me to their party of telling fabulous stories. And many thanks to Kemp Powers for writing a phenomenal story, which helps us do our job in casting.”

Christi Soper Hilt on receiving two nominations in the category of Animation for The Croods: A New Age and Trolls World Tour:

“I so appreciate the nominations for both of these fantastic movies. Thank you to everyone at DreamWorks and the filmmakers on both Trolls World Tour — Gina Shay, Walt Dohrn and Dave Smith – and The Croods A New Age — Mark Swift and Joel Crawford. Thanks to Nadia Sheen, my amazing associate, and to Leslee Feldman to whom I’m forever grateful. The true stars of both these movies are the actors who gave such amazing performances – thanks to all!”  


Kim Coleman on receiving a nomination in the category of Big Budget – Drama for Da 5 Bloods and a nomination in the category of Low Budget – Comedy or Drama for All Day and a Night

“It feels amazing to be acknowledged by your peers. I am so honored to be in the company of these great casting directors. I would like to give a big “shoutout” to my casting rock and associate casting director on Da 5 Bloods, Anna McCarthy, and to Ryan Maharaj, who worked tirelessly on All Day and a Night. I would also like to thank Nina Henninger, who did the local casting for All Day and a Night.”


Come April 15, you can find out which nominees will take home a win in their respective categories when the Artios Awards streams in its first-ever worldwide virtual ceremony. In the meantime, you can find a full list below of all the casting directors nominated this year for their work in film. Plus, we’ll leave you with an insight from one of our featured nominees. “When the pool is small, just keep digging deeper,” Kim shared in regard to the casting process for Minari. We’re grateful for all the casting directors who kept pushing to find just the right actors for their nominated projects. 



The Croods: A New Age – Christi Soper Hilt

Onward – Kevin Reher, Natalie Lyon, Kate Hansen-Birnbaum (Associate)

Soul – Kevin Reher, Natalie Lyon, Kate Hansen-Birnbaum (Associate)

Trolls World Tour – Christi Soper Hilt 

Big Budget – Comedy

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm – Nancy Bishop

Enola Holmes – Jina Jay

The King of Staten Island – Gayle Keller, David Rubin, Allison Kirschner (Associate)

The Prom – Alexa L. Fogel, Kathryn Zamora-Benson (Associate), Alison Goodman (Associate)

On the Rocks – Courtney Bright, Nicole Daniels

Big Budget – Drama

Da 5  Bloods – Kim Coleman, Juliette Menager (Location Casting)

Hillbilly Elegy – Carmen Cuba, Tara Feldstein Bennett (Location Casting), Chase Paris (Location Casting), D. Lynn Meyers (Location Casting), Judith Sunga (Associate)

Judas and the Black Messiah – Alexa L. Fogel, Donna Belajac (Location Casting), Elizabeth Berra (Associate), Missy Finnell (Associate)

Mulan – Debra Zane, Poping Auyeung (Chinese Casting Consultant), Dylan Jury (Associate) 

The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Francine Maisler, Mia Cusumano (Location Casting) Jennifer Rudnicke (Location Casting), Mickie Pascal (Location Casting), Kathy Driscoll-Mohler (Associate), Molly Rose (Associate), AJ Links (Associate)

Studio or Independent – Comedy

The 40-Year-Old Version – Jessica Daniels

Ammonite – Fiona Weir

French Exit – Nicole Arbusto, Lucie Robitaille (Location Casting)

Happiest Season – Rich Delia, Donna Belajac (Location Casting), Adam Richards (Associate), Missy Finnell (Associate)

Let Them All Talk – Carmen Cuba

The Personal History of David Copperfield – Sarah Crowe


Studio or Independent – Drama

The Dig – Lucy Bevan

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – Avy Kaufman, Nancy Mosser (Location Casting), Scotty Anderson (Associate)

The Mauritanian – Nina Gold, Christa Schamberger (Location Casting)

One Night in Miami – Kimberly Hardin, Tracy Kilpatrick (Location Casting)

Pieces of a Woman – Jessica Kelly

Promising Young Woman – Mary Vernieu, Lindsay Graham Ahanonu


Low Budget – Comedy Or Drama

All Day and a Night – Kim Coleman, Nina Henninger (Location Casting), Sarah Kliban (Associate) 

The Assistant – Avy Kaufman, Scotty Anderson (Associate) 

Herself – Louise Kiely 

Minari – Julia Kim, Chris Freihofer (Location Casting)

Sound of Metal – Susan Shopmaker, Angela Peri (Location Casting), Lisa Lobel (Location Casting), Emily Fleischer (Associate)


Micro Budget – Comedy or Drama

American Skin – Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd, Kelly Knox

Black Bear – Henry Russell Bergstein, Allison Estrin, Jenn Gaw

Inez & Doug & Kira – Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee, Roya Semnanian (Associate), Joey Montenarello (Associate)

International Falls – Matthew Lessall

Miss Juneteenth – Chelsea Ellis Bloch

The Surrogate – Erica Hart

The included interview segments have been edited for clarity. 

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Damian Bao Casting Launches Talent Search for Two Lead Roles in ‘Abroad’ Feature Film

Damian Bao Casting Launches Talent Search for Two Lead Roles in ‘Abroad’ Feature Film

Damian Bao Casting (Port Authority, Goldie, American Honey) has launched a talent search for two lead roles in the upcoming mystery/thriller feature film Abroad. Casting is seeking one male and one female Korean actor, between 20-35 years old. Both actors must be able to speak Korean fluently as well as be English speakers.

Determined to see the northern lights, a Korean couple from Seoul goes on vacation in northern Minnesota. MINJI disappears deep in the woods, and her boyfriend TAEMIN is arrested because he is unable to explain his innocence due to a lack of English skills. Eventually, with some luck, TAEMIN escapes jail and finds MINJI, but she is married to a local, speaks perfect English and claims to have never seen him in her life. Has MINJI been brain-washed? Is the whole town against TAEMIN? Are there supernatural forces at play? Or is TAEMIN really crazy and dangerous? Angry and frustrated, TAEMIN kidnaps MINJI in an attempt to return to their reality…

The deadline to submit is March 19, 2021, at 7 pm PST, so please submit as soon as possible as to not miss your chance! For more information and to submit, click here.


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Remembering Casting Legend Lynn Stalmaster

Remembering Casting Legend Lynn Stalmaster

Earlier this month, we lost the person who some credit with creating the job of the independent casting director. After the studio system fell apart in the 1950s, Lynn Stalmaster, along with Marion Doughtery, helped define the role of casting director. And with Norman Jewison’s The Thomas Crown Affair, Stalmaster became the first person in his profession to receive a solo title card in a film’s credits. He was also the first and only casting director to have ever received an honorary Oscar, and the 93-year-old industry veteran left behind the impressive legacy of his six decades in the industry when he passed away from natural causes on February 12. 

Amongst the more-than 400 casting credits attributed to Stalmaster on IMDb are titles such as The Great Escape, In the Heat of the Night, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Harold and Maude, Tootsie, Nine ½ Weeks and Battlefield Earth. A number of A-listers have Stalmaster to thank for early roles in their careers that helped them break into the business. He’s credited for having a hand in the castings of Dustin Hoffman as Ben Braddock in The Graduate, Christopher Reeve as the title superhero in Superman and John Travolta as Vinnie Barbarino in the 1970s comedy series Welcome Back, Kotter. Fans of LeVar Burton and Geena Davis can also thank Stalmaster for casting the actors in some of their early roles, the hit 1977 series Roots and Sydney Pollack’s 1982 dramedy Tootsierespectively. The career-starter also gave Jeff Bridges his first break in the film Halls of Anger, and the actor labeled Stalmaster the “master caster” during the 2016 award presentation for his honorary Oscar. 

Upon news of his passing, the Casting Society of America (CSA) honored the casting director’s contributions to the profession. “A pioneer of our craft, Lynn was a trailblazer with over half a century of world-class film and television casting credits. He was a friend and mentor to many of us,” CSA co-presidents Rich Mento and Russell Boast shared in a statement. Other casting directors took to social media to pay tribute to the frontrunner who paved the way for their profession. “He was so kind to those of us starting out,” wrote Sharon Bialy in a Twitter post. “He left a legacy of how to be a caring, considerate and dedicated casting director.” Sandi Logan named him “a giant and a role model for all of us who followed in his footsteps.” Simone Pereira Hind honored him as “one of the first and best.”

Not only did Stalmaster set the stage for casting directors who came after him, but he also encouraged them during his acceptance speech for the 2016 honorary Academy Award. “Casting is alive and well in the new millennium,” asserted Stalmaster. “I so admire the achievements of today’s casting directors, and I’m so impressed with their creative contributions.” So whether it be the next generation of casting people he inspired, the actors whose careers he impacted or the well-loved projects he cast, Stalmaster’s legacy will continue to live on in Hollywood. 

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