The right actor for the job

c: | f: Entertainment / Corporate

After all these years of being an avid movie follower, why did I assume there was a rigorous accreditation procedure at Casting Director University?

Not being immersed very much in the construction side of the film industry, it always puzzled me as a movie consumer when the credits rolled to see “Casting by Castor McActor C.S.A.” as I could never fathom what it stood for. Casting School Academy? Casts Superb Actors? Completely Superfluous Appendix?

On one hand I wanted to believe that these folk worked hard at their career, studied, received qualifications and went on to work with J.J. Abrams as a reward. But on the other hand was this nagging doubt that choosing someone for a role isn’t exactly rocket science; just a case of finding a person who might fit the part, with the right availability to match the shooting schedule. For example:

  • Producer: We need someone from Sheffield who can only do one accent.
  • Casting director: I’ll call Sean Bean’s agent.
  • Producer: This film calls for an actor who can kill someone with his T-shirt and look good while he does it. Being able to do a halfway passable American accent isn’t necessary.
  • Casting director: I’m sure Jason Statham is available.
  • Producer: We need someone who looks pretty, but smells of varnish.
  • Casting director: Lucky I have Keanu Reeves on speed dial.

With that in mind, I started to wonder why such staff needed to go on a course to get letters after their name. I mean, what could such a diploma offer? How to call people up? What qualities to look for in an actor based on an endless series of auditions?

Then I looked it up. Turns out that CSA isn’t just another spin-off of CSI: Miami. It signifies the holder belongs to the Casting Society of America. Besides precluding anyone of non-US denomination into this exclusive club, it appears you are eligible for these letters after your name if you have:

  • Sponsorship letters from at least two current members of the CSA.
  • Two years of screen or stage credit as Primary Casting Director.

And that’s it. A couple of mates who’ll write you a reference and who’ll give you a couple of years’ work sitting in front of people reading off a sheet of paper. I’m in the wrong profession. I had to actually work to get BEng (Hons) after my name.

Well, mostly.

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