Casting Director Spotlight

From Grimm and Z Nation to Wild and beyond, Northwest actors continue to shine in the national spotlight. Three local casting directors talk talent with Media Inc.

Casting QA - Cast Iron (PRINT)_DSC8602-EditEryn Goodman
Cast Iron Studios
www.castironstudios.com

How did your career as a casting director begin?
Fresh off a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater, I headed to Chicago where I interned with O’Connor Casting. I was asked if I had a backbone and wouldn’t cry, if I liked actors, and if I could go with the flow and be adaptable. I gave three “yes” responses and jumped in.
A year later, I was back home in Portland en route to Los Angeles. My family encouraged me to scope out the film community in the Northwest, and I’m glad I did. Ten days after sending out a handful of resumes and inquiries, I was spending my first days at Cast Iron Studios as a Casting Assistant. Hard to believe that was nine years ago.

What’s the biggest name movie or television series that you have done casting for? What has been the most fun project to cast?
Depends on who you ask. My little cousins would probably tell you it’s Twilight, but more recently Grimm, Leverage, and The Librarians  are the big ones. We had a blast doing the Northwest casting for  Wild, and I’m so excited to see our local talent shine. Jean-Marc Vallée has a really clear vision, and was great to collaborate with.

How does the level of talent that you see here in the Northwest compare to the rest of the country?
I can’t speak to the rest of the country, but I do know that our out-of-town directors and producers are consistently impressed and surprised by the quality of actors we provide. I think it helps that we’re so close to L.A.: there’s a decent faction of talent who have plenty of professional credits, but when it’s time to raise a family and settle down, they come up here.

What is the most important thing that a production company should know when hiring a casting director?
Not only can we find you the best fit for your project, but we can also expand your vision to options outside of the obvious. We will absolutely honor your given specs, but sometimes keeping an open mind to the wildcard we throw you could be the best thing that happens to your production.

Casting QA Nike_Imoru-065-Edit-2Nike Imoru
Nike Imoru Casting
www.nikeimorucasting.com

How did your career as a casting director begin?
Specifically film, it began when a friend (who was herself a casting director) dropped out of a show I was directing in order to take a gig out of town. She asked me to take her place and cast the upcoming movie. I couldn’t believe that she would drop out of the show and was a little put out that she asked me to take over her casting desk! I’m still thanking her to this day.

What’s the biggest name movie or television series that you have done casting for?
Each one gets bigger than the last. Currently it has to be  Z Nation (Syfy). I am the lead casting director and have cast 95 percent of all the roles, including leading roles, guest and co-star roles with regional talent.

What has been the most fun project to cast?
As a casting director, probably Knights of Badassdom with Peter Dinklage, Steve Zahn, Jimmi Simpson, and Summer Glau. The River Murders with Ray Liotta was also A LOT of fun to cast. Liotta was the reader at producer callbacks; it was fantastic having him in the studio.

How does the level of talent that you see here in the Northwest compare to the rest of the country?
Northwest talent compare favourably to actors in the rest of the country, which is why I was able to cast 95 percent of  Z Nation with regional talent.
That said, I could always do with more actors who are ready to play, who can tackle bigger roles, who are experienced and who are constantly ‘in practice’ or training.
In the NW I would also like to see more skilled and experienced actors of colour.

What is the most important thing that a production company should know when hiring a casting director?
A good casting director is worth her weight in gold! A brilliant casting director… is pure gold.

Patti Hawaii cropPatti Kalles
Kalles Levine Casting
www.kalleslevinecasting.com

How did your career as a casting director begin?
I have my degree in Theatre and Education from WSU. While teaching in the public schools, I also worked as a Seattle actress. In 1983, I wanted a change so I saw that there was a need for a casting director here in the NW. I became a Seattle and Portland casting director. I worked a lot of commercials and industrials at first before casting for films. In 1986-1987, I cast my first film, Harry and the Hendersons. I learned from the best. In 1988, I became a Casting Society of America (CSA) member. I feel fortunate to have worked 30 years with my 2 passions of casting and teaching.

What’s the biggest name movie or television series that you have done casting for? What has been the most fun project to cast?
I have worked on a lot of big name movies, such as my first one of Harry and the Hendersons, as well as Drugstore Cowboy, Homeward Bound and Say Anything. I loved working on the TV series Northern Exposure, which I won 2 Artios Awards for casting. I am enjoying working now on the Amazon pilot of Man in the High Castle. I am hopeful that it will return to Washington State to continue shooting. I find all projects to be fun to work on, whether they be small independent films or big budgets. They are all different.

How does the level of talent that you see here in the Northwest compare to the rest of the country?
I think the NW has wonderful talent. We have a lot of theatre here that our actors perform in, which I think helps them be great. I think the hardest thing for local talent is that they are not getting 10 auditions a day, so naturally they need more coaching to do a great audition. I feel that sometimes they are not given the credit they deserve. Classes are really important for all actors to take to keep their skills sharp.

What is the most important thing that a production company should know when hiring a casting director?
I think a casting director should know the local talent in the NW. Going to theatre is a large part of knowing the actors. Another thing that is helpful is seeing their class work. I think casting directors should also have a good relationship with the agents. We need to work together as a team. I think being organized and knowing that you can keep a good time schedule on casting days are important. It reflects back on the production company.
I think the production company needs to be able to communicate what they want with the casting director to get the best result in their casting audition.

Leave a Reply