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The World of a Casting Director

Casting Directors organise and facilitate the casting of actors for roles in projects. Here, award-winning casting director Claire Catterson of Des Hamilton Casting explains how it all works, using examples like Dare's commercial for Hovis - Farmer's Lad.

Read on if you want to pick up valuable casting director tips and enter work into the D&AD Awards Casting for Film Advertising sub-category.

Being a Casting Director

The job itself involves working closely with a production team, producer and director to understand their requirements, and suggesting ideal artists for each role. 

There is a quicker turnaround casting a TV Commercial to a Feature Film. Usually a TV commercial is planned, cast, and finalised within a week. With films the casting can last several weeks or more.  I personally approach the casting process the same for both. 

Seb Edwards with Academy films were casting for the next Hovis commercial. For me to work with such a talented director and production house is a real pleasure; I'm a great admirer of their work.

Casting Farmer's Lad

I thoroughly enjoyed Seb’s beautiful and extremely powerful treatment. We discussed his vision and the type of boy he was looking for. Then it's my job to find him a selection of boys that tick the boxes, visually and in personality. For this project he wasn't looking for the conventionally good-looking, advertising kid. It was important to find a child that was instantly captivating to the viewer. The commercial is called ‘Farmer’s Lad’ and that's exactly what I went in search for and eventually found.  

Street Casting

I personally use street casting a lot when I'm prepping a new project. Once I know what the role requirements are and I have my visual reference I’ll hit the streets in search of someone who first of all fits the casting brief by their look and then we take it from there.  

I will stop a member of public that catches my eye and explain my position and the particular project I am casting for. I leave it open for the individual to have a think about it and keep my fingers crossed they get in touch. Very often you find that the people who have never acted in their life have a real-ness; a natural way about them in front of the camera. 

When you approach people in the street the majority of them are pleasant enough. There have been times people don't stop and keep on walking, some who think instantly I'm after their money and (thankfully this doesn't happen often) individuals who simply don't appreciate it.  

Casting for Dance Roles

For commercials where people are required to dance, we consider actors who have dance experience and if time and the schedule allows I will contact dance schools/classes etc. For the Europcar commercial we needed a male with no inhibitions; simply "dance like no one is watching".

As you can imagine the casting sessions were great fun on this and we had an enjoyable time with the artists. If at anytime I felt someone was not giving me enough I was certainly not shy in doing an example of what I was looking for, so there were times I'd get on my feet and do some moves myself to encourage them to give me more.  

You aim for a relaxed environment and to make artists feel supported and comfortable.  I'll do anything I can to achieve this to get the very best out of them. 

If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Awards and see if our judges agree. When it comes to awards, nothing matters more.

For more creative inspiration and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the world’s best design and advertising, join us at D&AD Festival.

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