The Comic-Con Casting Director Panel Featuring Randi Hiller, Lora Kennedy, Sharon Bialy, Roger Mussenden & David Rapaport

Comic-Con is always one of the best weekends of the year but for me, this Casting Director panel made the weekend.

casting-director-panel

The panel was presented by The Casting Society of America and moderated by Lora Kennedy, the Executive Vice President of Warner Brothers Casting (Man of Steel). The panelists were (in order of seating): David Rapaport (CW’s Arrow), Randi Hiller (Walt Disney Studios, VP Casting), Sharon Bialy (The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad) and Roger Mussenden (X-Men movies).

I’ve been to panels like this at various film festivals and most are good. Not great, just good. The thing about panels like this though is that most rely on the people asking the questions and well, frankly, most people are dummies.

Not this audience. Most of the them were working actors and everyone asked smart, spot-on questions. This is why this panel was honestly one of the best I’ve ever been to. It’s chock full on information and most every minute is fantastic.

Watch this. Watch this more than once. Watch it five times. You’ll be glad you did.

Also, I’m not a cameraman, so please don’t give me grief on the shaky-cam!

Here is a rundown of the most interesting questions listed by the minute mark. But really, watch the whole hour-long video.

  • :10 Who gets the final say in casting?
  • 3:19 Roger is asked how he cast the 1st X-Men movie. He also tells how Hugh Jackman got cast as Wolverine
  • 6:13 Randi talks about casting the Marvel movies. She also talks about testing Tom Hiddleston originally for the role of Thor
  • 8:00 How do they cast more than one show at the same time?
  • 10:00 How do they cast children for younger versions of the film’s star and how they cast child actors in other roles
  • 13:40 Do’s and Don’t of getting the attention of Casting Directors.
  • 15:00 The benefits of the internet in casting and why they sometimes consider you for projects
  • 18:00 Advice on auditioning
  • 23:00 What advice would they give to actors who are auditioning for day player roles; roles with one line or even with one word
  • 24:20 How do they look for the right actor? Do they send to specific agencies? They also go into self-taping
  • 29:30 What is it about British and Australian actors? Why are they getting all of the work? Definitely check out the awesome answers from the panel
  • 32:10 How do they feel about Casting Director workshops?
  • 34:50 What do they look for when casting smaller roles? Do they go out to specific agents? Do they look at blind submissions?
  • 40:00 What actors have they really fought for?
  • 44:09 How does an unrepresented actor compete against actors who have agents?
  • 45:45 Headshots!
  • 47:20 The do’s and don’t of demo reels
  • 48:34 Does it benefit an actor who says they can go local in other cities?
  • 52:34 More about self-submitting audition tapes
  • 54:19 More about Casting Director workshops
  • 57:50 Is it too late to start acting at an older age?
  • 58:48 Are there any benefits of starring in a Web-Series?

Interesting quotes and thoughts from the panelists:

  • David: “There are about 45 people who have to sign off on one co-star.”
  • David: “Sometimes you can’t have 2 blondes in one scene”
  • Roger: “Usually the right person gets the job”
  • Sharon on auditioning for day player roles: “Your job is to move the story forward. It’s not about you.”
  • David just wants you to be professional.
  • As a whole, they want to know what makes you unique. Just do good work and you’ll rise to the top. They’ll respond to that.
  • David: “You’re never auditioning for the role at hand. You’re always auditioning for something in the future.”
  • Sharon said that Norman Reedus bombed his Walking Dead audition and that some “voices” from Breaking Bad executives didn’t originally think Aaron Paul could act.

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