Casting Diaries - Day 27 (213 Bones)

Oct 3

Casting is mysterious to the uninitiated...

 Even directors and producers don’t really know how we do it.  This “it” that cannot always be quantified, and yet it’s all about the numbers; the stats, the metrics. I’ll never forget Taye (senior producer) with his big bushy eyebrows saying to me: ”ahhh yes casting! The dark art”.  Is it..? Is it a dark art? Or is it the stuff of intuitive knowing, of match-making mind, body and spirit to a role so that a story can unfold through the emotionally-engaged vessels we call actors.  ’S funny how most casting directors are women and queer men …  Huh…curious…wonder why..?
This one is tough going….maybe it’s just a tough time…  Non-union … strikes ...horror film.


’s funny I can't watch horror films; not since seeing The Exorcist or was it The Omen, when I was way too young. I still can’t watch the violent zombie scenes in Z Nation, or even the violent scenes on my own casting reel!  I'm easily startled.
But I love casting horror…huh.. interesting … worth exploring with my therapist, maybe. 

This one is tough going….  Or maybe I’m just getting old. Or maybe zoom casting is just too fatiguing; after the fact not so much during the auditioning process. It’s the trend, I know it is but it’s so exhausting when actors don’t respond to agents, don’t respond to emails, don’t decline or confirm on the casting networks, don’t show up, miss deadlines, audition with their cat/dog in full view. Seriously one actor who read last week had their cat in the room and was stroking it with one had, trying to keep it from jumping on the laptop, while scrolling through their script with the other hand; and trying to audition; all as though I wasn’t there. 

And the truth is, of course, I wasn’t. I wasn't 'there'. I was in my office in my home in Spokane. She was in her bedroom in her flat in Seattle.

Actors who don’t read the emails properly, who don’t follow email instructions. I suppose the truth is that no-one is really reading anymore, that’s what I’m being told.  “People don’t read any more, Nike”… But...but... I thought they wanted this, I think to myself, puzzled.

Notify us they say, and we email to remind people to read the previously sent important email, and then the ensuing PANIC!!! when the actor realizes they’ve missed the email/deadline/ etc…"Welcome to our world”,  some of my top agents tell me. …

But it is, it’s tough going this one for so many reason and also because with horror, it’s all about the chemistry of the cast, more than it is about the famous name attached to the picture.

In my head I can see the top actors in the Pacific Northwest. They jump out at me.  The ones who have put in the work, are good actors, audition really well, great credits, hard workers, the ones who just show up, every. time. I see them all in my minds eye and then the newer actors, excited for a potential breakout role …ahhh yeh, I love this side of casting. We’re a team, a family, we’re local. It’s such a good feeling. Actors, agents, lined up saying, just like the 12th Man…we’ve got this!

It has to be said some agents (not all) are amazing. They’ll stay up until 10pm, 11pm chatting with me on email pitching and discussing actors, trying to  fit them into the packed-to-over-flowing schedule …and yet…. ’s always tough when, the  actor doesn’t  then show up for the audition. It happens ...  

Only once in my 17 year tenure has an agent ever missed a deadline, cos they forgot basically; literally just spaced it. Internally I went ballistic; not something I would recommend for one’s internal organs.  There are also agents who work harder for their talent, then talent work for themselves.

I wish ... I wish more (non-union?) actors, actors new to the acting career, maybe every actor (?) would do more to understand how they can get seen by casting directors, how they can do better.  99% of actors from a particular modelling agency  want to get into film and were submitted but didn’t have resumes with their online profiles;  99% of them.  They wondered if, after the deadline, I would go back and re-consider all their submissions because actors had been told to add their resumes.  Go back and reconsider.  After reviewing close to a thousand agent submissions?

Yeh…Covid, or rather lock-down had a lot to do with the bad-habits that have stuck. Scores and scores and scores of headshots and clips of character auditions. Great!  Resume... anyonw?

Got an email over the weekend from an LA actor (emailing me directly) telling me they’d worked really hard on their self-tape and that they’d  missed the deadline because of tech issues and their agent had to upload it for them and couldn’t,  sooooo they were just going to send it to me via email…

Got a DM from an actor this morning, on fb, who emailed me 5 clips of their audition, because they missed the deadline and ..’hey thought you might like to see it anyways…’

No but seriously….lock-down had a lot to do with these new bad habits … We were discussing it in the AP class last weekend. We’ve lost the process (and in many ways we’ve started to lose the plot).  The process used to be so much more ritualistic, both leading up to the audition and crucially, leading away from the audition. Rituals!  There is this actor in the AP class who basically took about 2-3 hours to arrive at their in-person audition.  All  that stuff we hated (or thought we did), driving, getting the bus, being outside, reverse parallel parking(!) walking into the lobby, signing-in, waiting. 

Now my actors sit in a storage room at work, or the bathroom, or bedroom room and don’t even open a door to enter into a different space, we just *PING*, and actor is appeared into a zoom square; then *PING* actor is disappeared. *PING* Actor spot-lit. We have all this stuff we do to the actor.  The actor is no longer fully autonomous in their own creative process. I think it is starting to show up in their work...hmmm..curious...

In terms of the craft of acting it is so much easier for the soma, the mind, body, spirit, to audition in person; 's way harder to audition on zoom. That said, some people are better at it than others on zoom. It’s so up close, so intimate. 

I do miss callbacks. Another part of our craft that was lost to lock-down. It was a way for actors to know that something they were doing was on track. They might not get verbal feedback, but the call back was an event, an important part of the process. It was exciting. And it was a form of closure for others who didn’t make the callback. Ritual.

Yes, the trends in film-making and story telling are shifting so much, for better and worse… 

... perhaps.

In the meantime, I still have this horror film to cast… The director is still watching audition tapes (funny how we still call them “tapes”. Like cassette tapes, or "video tapes”,  when they are actually files. Digital files. “Waiting for the director to download and watch “digital files”…not quite the same organic ring to it.)

The director will likely watch a couple of thousand digital files for this show. All made possible by self-taping and zoom auditions.

For now, we wait and see how this 'dark art' plays out for 213 Bones.

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