Life Of A Casting Director
Life Of A Casting Director
Paul De Freitas (Casting Director) gives expert video advice on: Do you concentrate on casting for one role?; Do you find it hard to be receptive when you're in a bad mood?; If you could have cast a famous film, which would it be? and more...
Are there busy and quiet periods during the year?
A lot of people ask me, is the job seasonal in anyway? Do I have busy times and quiet times? I'm very, very lucky, I'm always working. But there aren't particularly busy times and quiet times. Hopefully the phone goes, the job come in and we get on and do it, very much like being an actor.
How many castings do you do in a day?
It varies so much how many castings one does in a day. You can do 4, 5 castings in a day; sometimes your diary is completely empty. It's very, very spasmodic. One of the difficult things about being a casting director is being able to rise to the occasion when a lot of things all come in at the same time, and how to utilize your time when there is no work there. My suggestion is when there's no work there, get in some actors that you haven't met before, say hello, have a chat with them, it makes life quite interesting.
Do you concentrate on casting for one role?
I do concentrate on casting one part. My mind has to be quite sort of methodical. I'm not very good on.. well I'm sure there are casting directors that are, of thinking of lots of different parts all at the same time. I personally like to sort of catergorize it and concentrate on each part as I go through and get it quite organized in my mind. So that's how I do it.
How does being a casting director affect family life?
Being a casting director definitely affects your family life and one's private life. Particularly when you meet people for the first time, they always say "have you got a casting couch", and, "oh, you must get to meet a lot of beautiful people." That is true, I do, but purely under professional, strict conditions. Family life, I just find myself going out so much, to go to the theatre and the cinema and all those things and watching the telly; and I sometimes have to watch things that my family don't want to watch, because it's got a big cast. So they might want to watch, sort of, "Play your cards Right" on one channel, and I'll have to watch a costume drama on the other. So that can cause a few problems in the household.
How much travel is involved in being a casting director?
There's very little travel involved in being a casting director. You can travel to New York and you can see productions on stage on Broadway, because they do some fantastic things over there, as we know. Being a casting director is a very localized job. Although I've worked for lots of different companies throughout Europe and the world, there's no real reason in this day and age for me to travel to those countries because e-mails and telephone calls are much cheaper. They just call me and they want to employ local people, they want to employ English-based actors, so there is no real reason for me to travel out of the UK.
Do you find it hard to switch off?
I find it impossible to switch off. I'm always, always looking at people and thinking, "What would I cast him in? What's he like"? I find myself talking in clichés about people, "Oh, who's that lady, oh the one who looks a bit like Joyce Grenfell, her. Yes. Or the John Cleese sort of guy, who's that guy?" You find yourself talking like that and of course your family looks at you like you've lost the plot.
Are many of your friends actors or directors?
I do socialize with actors, a bit. Quite a few of my friends are actors and directors. I'll say fifty fifty. But I don't call people in for casting sessions and say, "Oh, what're you doing tomorrow night? Should we all go out for a drink." It's just happened quite organically. Particularly with child actors, some of those people are still acting today, so I, therefore, am still in touch with them. However, I don't go out of my way to become socially entwined with actors, to be perfectly honest.
Is acting an innate talent?
I think, being an actor, I think you are born with that gift. I think that you can spot it, as a casting director, and spot that in somebody, and hopefully nurture it and bring it out. We have some fantastic drama schools here that will do that. There are also some very good natural actors that are probably best not to go to a drama school, just to be themselves and sort of bring their talent out that way. But I think you are born with it, definitely.
Do you find it hard to be receptive when you're in a bad mood?
It is quite tough being receptive when one is not feeling 100% or in a great mood. But you have to rise above that and be stronger than that, because I have the job as a casting director at this stage and that person is trying to get a job and I have to be receptive and assist them, and do all I can to help that happen for them. This could be a break for them and change their life and I have to be aware of that. So I have to leave my own family and personal problems behind me, which I've had to do many times and be receptive, help the actor and give them the best opportunity.
Who is your inspiration?
I don't know that I've ever had an inspiration. I worked with a lot of people when I was a child and it's funny how those childhood things never leave you. I remember being at the Palladium and working with inspirations like Lulu and Ramoody and these great people and I remember somebody like Lulu, who was very young at the time, and dealing with a lot of the problems of being a star and her private life, and she's still going, so I often think, "someone like that is just incredible," an inspiration, and there's quite a few people like that in the business. Who have stayed the course. And have weathered lots of problems and are still up there at the top. And I admire people like that, so I aspire, and take great inspiration from them.
If you could have cast a famous film, which would it be?
I think if I could have cast a favourite film, a very famous film, that film would be Gone With the Wind.
If you could work for any director, who would it be?
If I could work for any director, I'd like to work with Alan Parker again, because I worked with him as an actor on his very, very first film. I was in "Bugsy Malone." I'd love to work with him again, because I think everything he's done ever since then, and including then, was fantastic. I think he's just absolutely brilliant and I admire his talent. I'd love to work with someone like that.
What is the worst thing about being a casting director?
The worst thing about being a casting director is the people. You meet lots of people as a casting director and everyone wants you to remember them, and you just can't, but we try our best. And you do have to let people down sometimes, and that's quite upsetting, the worst thing. And as a casting director you meet actors who are quite financially vulnerable as well, and you think, "this could really change this person's life," and then it doesn't happen for them. And you have to let them know. That's quite a tough part of the job, if not the worst part.
What is the best thing about being a casting director?
The best part of being a casting director is to tell someone they've got the job. You turn up, you see it on the big screen and they're absolutely fantastic, and they're on their way, hopefully. That's the best part.
How damaging is a bad casting to an actor's career?
How damaging is a bad casting to an actor's career?
Does your job still excite you?
My job still excites me so much, I can't tell you. It's just like a hobby that I get paid for. And it's just fantastic because I do so many things. I'm casting a film, I'm doing a stageplay, commercials, and I'm always working so it's just fantastic. It just excites me to go meet actors and give them a chance to become stars.