Share

Next month sees the return of the CDA Awards - an annual awards show dedicated to the often-overlooked art of casting.

Now in its third year, CDA 2019 will cover casting for commercials, short films, music videos and branded content, along with specialist categories including street-casting and child casting (see the full shortlists here). 

Ahead of the awards, which are set to take place on 15 May at BAFTA London, shots caught up with three top casting directors to find out more about current challenges, trends, and how the industry is evolving.

Above (left-right): casting directors Ali Fearnley, Sue Odell and Heather March

What new trends in casting have you noticed this year and how have you responded to them?

Ali Fearnley: The desire for ‘realness’ is an ongoing and compelling trend and I am delighted about it.  We need to reflect a more honest and recognisable version of the world in advertising rather than the overly ‘perfect and pretty’ one which we have been guilty of promoting in the past.  This includes more interesting or less classically attractive stars, more diversity in all its forms, and a performance quality which is naturalistic and underplayed.  

Directors are also increasingly looking for the different and unusual.  They often want something which has never been seen on the screen before and this means we are looking for talent far beyond the traditional actors and agency system – so more street-casting, community casting and social media searches. 

Rimmel London – I Will Not Be Deleted

Credits
powered by Source

Unlock full credits and more with a Source membership.

Credits
powered by Source
Show full credits
Hide full credits
Credits powered by Source
Above: Rimmel I Will Not Be Deleted, shortlisted for the CDA 2019.


Heather March: Diversity is becoming ever more apparent in casting. As well as casting across all ethnicities and ages, I can definitely see a shift towards even more inclusive casting - wheelchair users, visible and non visible disabilities, LGBTQ community.  And this is exactly how it should be.  For too long, they have been hugely under represented in casting.  Whether a brief specifically states this or not, I now reach out to people in these categories as a matter of course. 

Diversity and representation are crucial issues for our industry, and as casting directors in particular, we should be in the vanguard of driving this change. 

Sue Odell: In the past year, as well as my casting briefs becoming more diverse in ethnicity, I have been really excited to have been asked to cast more and more advertising campaigns and film projects involving LGBTQ+ subjects.

I spend a lot of my time meeting transgender and queer actors at showcases, theatre performances and forum events as well as at lots of face-to-face coffees-and-chats plus, of course, at my castings. I was particularly thrilled to have been asked to work on the 2018 Pride In London TV commercial and stills as well as a short film and a documentary both involving transgender teenagers.

As well as LGBTQ+ subjects, I am now delighted to be asked to look for interesting, culturally and ethnically diverse people of all shapes and sizes, with tattoos, disabilities,'imperfections' etc. Consequently, many of the wonderful subjects I find are street-cast, often thanks to social media which now plays a vital part in castings.

Click image to enlarge
Above: Pride in London's Somewhere Over The Rainbow, shortlisted for the CDA 2019.

How has the role of the casting director evolved over the past couple of years, and where might it be heading?

AF: Diversity and representation are crucial issues for our industry, and as casting directors in particular, we should be in the vanguard of driving this change and showing the benefits of casting the net as widely and inclusively as possible.  

This should not be about quota filling or responding to political pressure, it is about showing directors, agencies and clients that if we look wider and represent our society more fully then we find better, more talented and interesting performers which more people will engage with. For me, this is one of the most exciting reasons to be a casting director right now, because not only does it feel the right thing to be doing, it also makes me feel like everyday I could be discovering someone totally new and unexpectedly brilliant.

I have secured talent from China, India, South East Asia without leaving my desk, something that would have been impossible years ago. 

SO: Hopefully casting directors can now open the eyes of the world to a much larger pool of subjects. I think more agencies will open up, representing people that reflect real life in general. Social media will continue to play an important part for casting directors who are looking to source interesting subjects. Being a member of the CDA has been so important to me, as we casting directors have always been ‘on our own’ so it’s brilliant to now have a community to compare, contrast and chat with about all issues to do with casting. 

McCain – McCain: Here's To Love

Credits
powered by Source

Unlock full credits and more with a Source membership.

Credits
powered by Source
Show full credits
Hide full credits
Credits powered by Source
Above: McCain's Here's To Love, shortlisted for the CDA 2019.


HM: Casting directors now have instant communication with actors, models and the general public, through the use of digital - which opens up casting globally. 

Gone are the days when I set up a job using one method, then host a live casting. Increasingly, I’m using self tapes or presenting talent using their own social media links, which means talent don’t even have to be in the same country. I have secured talent from China, India, South East Asia without leaving my desk, something that would have been impossible years ago. The role is much more tech-reliant, so we need to move with the times.  

Also, with the surge of street-casting and real people, I spend a lot of time dealing directly with talent, rather than agents, which is very time consuming. There is a lot more admin both before and after the casting - and I can only see this increasing. 

For more information on the CDA Awards 2019, click here.

Share