As posted in Back Stage, "Buzz on the Biz", Marci Liroff answers a few questions from an up and coming casting director hopeful. Ever wander how they got where they are? Ever wander what happens after you leave the casting room? Find out in this series on the life of a casting director . . . and learn more about someone you just might meet face to face in the casting room one day!
Marci Liroff on the Life of a Casting Director
Have you ever wanted to know what really goes on in the world of casting? In a new Q&A series on her Facebook page called "Inside the World of Casting," Hollywood casting director Marci Liroff (Mean Girls, Mr. Poppers' Penguins, Pretty in Pink) is currently answering questions from a college student, who is interested in becoming a casting director and wants to know more about the industry.
We're sharing some of Liroff's answers here -- but make sure to visit Facebook.com/MarciLiroffFans for more advice from one of the top casting directors in the business.
Q: I've heard that casting for films is a lot of budgets, negotiating, and handling contracts. Do you feel the position is mostly business, or is there an equally creative side to it? How about for a casting associate?
A: It is the CD's job to (sometimes) put together the casting budget. It is sometimes done by the line producer, but they want our input (i.e. how much do you think it'll cost to get a good actor in this part). The CD negotiates all the actor deals (not the extras). It differs from studio to studio, but some studios have the CD negotiate everything up to a Schedule F deal ($65,000 and under) and Business Affairs does the deals higher than Sched. F, and Warner Bros has the CD negotiate everything up to $250k. The CD (and associate) need to know how to read a Day out of Days (the schedule) and formulate a deal. In television the deals are standard. Business affairs negotiates the test deals for pilots and series deals. The CD doesn't have to do that. The CD does the weekly/daily deals on the series, but like I said it's a standard "top-of-show" formula for guest stars and AFTRA/SAG scale for co-stars.
The creative side comes in when you are assembling the cast and coming up with ideas in terms of putting together the perfect ensemble. I try to think of creative ideas that are unexpected and outside the box. There is a LOT of psychology involved in handling the large groups of the creative team (producers/writer/director/executives at the studio). You want them to hire "your guy" and you have to get them to feel that it was their idea in the first place! The CD is part of the team that makes the final decision on who gets cast. It is ultimately up to the head of the studio/network to approve our choices. The CD is an invaluable part of this decision making process.
Some jobs are more creative than others. Some jobs you feel like you are just a glorified taping facility. I try and stay away from those situations! Depends on what you're working on and who you're working for!