What does a casting producer do?
If you’ve ever wondered how TV companies find people to be on their shows, it’s all down to the skill, imagination and hard work of the casting producer. Casting producers find the ‘cast’ for the programme, whether that be amateur cooks, gameshow contestants, people sharing problems with health, house-hunting or financial issues, or individuals with an incredible story to tell.
Casting producers need to understand everything about the show, the content, the channel and the time it will be transmitted, so they can cast a suitable and diverse range of people. They have a huge contacts book and spend hours on the phone and email to companies, agencies, societies and clubs, sending them ‘casting’ material like flyers and posters to communicate what sort of people a show is looking for and why. They create Facebook pages and application forms, building in data protection measures and taking into consideration the production’s duty of care to any potential contributors.
They often lead a specialist casting team of assistant producers and researchers, organising roles, a schedule and overseeing the process. Once people start applying to take part, the casting producer decides who to interview. They usually record and edit the interviews, making short, concise ‘taster tapes’ along with a written research ‘brief’. These get shown to the series producer and then the channel commissioner, who usually gives final sign-off.
Casting producers stay in constant contact with a show’s contributors, before, during and after filming, to ensure they are clear and happy about their role in the show and to deal with any concerns. They often have to deal with very sensitive issues.
Casting producers are mainly freelance, but can be staff at some larger production companies that make a lot of factual entertainment programmes.
What’s a casting producer good at?
- Understanding people: have a natural interest in people, an ability to spot great characters, be a great communicator and know how to put people at ease
- Research: have a great contacts book covering many different areas, know where to find the people with the potential to become a great contributor
- Content: understand the audience, format and purpose of a show, know the type of people required and produce the most suitable and compelling cast
- Organisation: manage a casting team and often a large number of applicants at various stages of a production
- Caring: be concerned for the wellbeing of the cast, maintain regular contact to ensure they are happy with their involvement, store all personal contributor information safely and securely