YAFTA INTERVIEW JANE ANDERSON
Job Title & What You do: Casting Director for TV & Film
Production (s): Hard Boiled Sweets, Convenience, Down Dog, All At Sea, Hank Zipzer, Spying on Hitler’s Army: The Secret Recordings
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
There isn’t a typical day as it can be very varied. It can involve reading scripts, coming up with ideas for characters, prepping to get a job (researching work producers & directors have done), coordinating auditions (phoning agents, scheduling their audition times) auditioning, editing and uploading auditions for the team to review, analyzing Day out of Days so I can work out actors’ deals based on their schedule, negotiating deals with agents, chasing agents for answers, watching recent shows/films to keep on top of what actors are doing, going to the theatre, running a workshop at a drama group/school – or all of the above.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Auditioning & nurturing talent.
What’s the worst thing about your job?
Doing deals with agents in a time when budgets are ever decreasing
How did you end up doing the job that you do?
I left University having specialized in Dance Photography on my BA (Hons) Contemporary Practice, but during that time was continually organizing and coordinating fundraising events for our degree show, fellow students’ short films, field trips etc, so I started in the industry in production. In those 3 years I worked in film, then commercials, then an animation series. Though I was very good at it, it wasn’t fulfilling enough. After 5 years out of the industry (because of travel and living overseas) I returned and decided to try casting (I had often ran the castings when I was a production manager in commercials). I was introduced to Sarah Crowe through a producer I’d previously worked with in commercials. She in turn gave me 2 weeks work when her assistant was on holiday. While I was there I emailed a select group of Casting Directors that I admired (based on the work they had done), and Di Carling took me on as her 2nd assistant for 9 months, where I was given the groundings of my training. I then went on to big stints working with Rachel Freck, Gary Davy as well as the odd job with Nina Gold & Crowley Poole. I was an associate with Kate Rhodes James for 3 years before going out on my own. As a Casting Associate you cast a lot of the roles, as well as manage the budget and deals, so it fully prepares you for going out on your own.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work as a casting director?
Be patient, don’t run before you can walk. You need the years of assisting and becoming an associate so you can not only hone your craft, but so you can get an identity with the business, and build up your own database of actors who you like and would like to cast. You really have to do it for the love of the job, as it’s a hard slog; you won’t necessarily be recognized for your contribution in a production, so you shouldn’t do it for the glory and it’s not financially rewarding – especially when you’re an assistant/associate.
From a casting director’s perspective, do you have any advice that you can offer to YAFTA students to help them in their acting careers?
Get as much experience as you can, whether it’s classes, workshops with industry professionals, working in fringe theatre, student films etc. Listen to advise from respected members of the industry (make sure they’re not people bragging about their status as they could give you the wrong advice). If you really want to do it, and you are given positive feedback, don’t give up. Every audition you didn’t get could lead you to another job. If Casting Directors are bringing you in (and have done so more than once) it’s because we believe you’re right for the role. If you didn’t get it, it’s not a reflection on your ability, but just the luck of the draw in the selection process.