Meg Morman and Sunny Boling of Morman Boling Casting have more than 100 films to their credit. In this post, they offer some insights into the relationship between the casting director and filmmaker.
Meg Morman: Typically we get calls or sometimes emails from producers or directors looking for help on a script or project. We like to read everything first and if we don’t know the director, watch whatever is available. Most of our work comes from people who’ve seen our movies or word of mouth. Personal connections never hurt.
MM: If they have their money and are ready to go, we usually start six to eight weeks out from principal photography. With larger roles or any type of cameo, we’ll make lists of people who are famous or are at least highly recognizable who we feel fit those roles. We send those lists to the director and producers to start a conversation and shorten the list to a top 20 or so favorites. Once we have a shortlist, we’ll check actor availabilities. After we know who’s available and who’s not, we can discuss to whom we should make our first offer.
You make one offer per role at a time. If Anna Faris is your top choice and Anna Camp is your second, you make Anna Faris the offer. If she says yes, great. If not, you move on to Anna Camp, because you can’t have two offers out at the same time on one role. While that’s happening we’re also putting out character breakdowns or thinking in our head who would be right for some of the smaller roles. We also start pre-reading actors, usually for the supporting roles, in order to get our five or seven favorites to bring in for director sessions.
Sunny Boling: It depends. We like to do all the speaking roles, although there have been instances where that hasn’t happened. One time we bid on a web series and they were like, “We have $500.” I started laughing, because they had 27 characters. I had to tell them that $500 wouldn’t get them much casting.
But I’m picky. Even if you’re like, “I’ve got this buddy,” I’ll respond, “Yeah I want to meet this buddy.” I don’t like to just throw anyone in. But there are times when you simply don’t have the money or the means to cast every character. Auditioning is time consuming, so is making lists, calling agents and doing all that stuff. If the budget is limited, there are going to be sacrifices.
MM: When we audition actors (with or without the director present), our rule is that the actor reads all of the pages they prepared at least once. If nothing else, just out of basic respect for them. We’ve given them specific material and they took the time to prepare. You’re showing them that you respect that time they’ve put into their craft. After that, if we want to redirect, we do but redirection is not always given.
SB: We never interrupt an audition. We’ve heard of directors doing this and it’s horrible. If you encounter this just say, “Let them finish this scene and then we’ll go back.” Auditioning is a very nerve-wrecking process for people. You’ll get better performances if you are respectful of that.