Building a thriving casting agency takes drive, business acumen and an eye for talent. According to the Casting Society of America, a casting director's main focus is to find and hire talent--in a sense, act like a human resource department for actors. Unlike talent agents, casting directors don't work on commission, and they are not franchised by SAG (Screen Actors Guild) or Actors' Equity. Casting agencies and casting agents are paid by production companies to find talent. Here's how to get started in this exciting and lucrative side of the entertainment industry.
Know what you are not. The entertainment industry is competitive, so you’ll need the edge of positioning your casting business properly. According to the Casting Society of America, casting directors are not talent agents. Talent agents are state licensed and their job is to get work for their clients. They earn a percentage of the fee paid to the client--typically 10 to 15 percent. As a casting director, you'll be working with actors and production companies, but the production companies are the ones who'll pay you for finding talent.
Work as a casting director’s assistant. Before stepping into your business-owner shoes, learn the business from the bottom up. One of the best ways to do this according to startupbizhub.com is taking on a casting director’s assistant internship. While the a casting director's salary in the U.S. in 2005 averaged $55,989, according to swzsalary.com, you won’t make anything near that as an intern. However, the experience you’ll get is priceless. Contact casting companies in your area and inquire about working as an intern.
Network and build your contacts. Wallflowers make lousy casting directors. You'll need to network to build your client list. There are two productive ways to do this--network with producers, producer's assistants and talent--and join a local casting or talent association. Networking and attending area entertainment functions allows you to meet with producers and talent, and introduce yourself to potential clients.
Write a detailed business plan. You've networked, entertained and partied your way to your own client base. Now comes the part that's just as vital--the details. Business plan software makes it easy to write a profitable, actionable, detailed business plan. Skipping this step is like getting in your car to go on a trip with no map and no destination in mind. Know how much your overhead will cost--down to the paper clips.
Step out on your own. With your internship behind you, your business plan in hand and your own clientele, you've done what you need to position yourself to run your own casting company. Once you have enough clients to pay for your overhead and make a nice profit for yourself--you're ready. And as Ann Salon of Salon Casting in New Mexico puts it, "I won't tell you how much successful casting companies make, because it's a range that's as large as in the acting field--but I can tell you--we do pretty well."
- Casting Society of America; What is CSA; 2008
- "Start Up Biz Hub"; How to Start Your Own Casting Director Business; 2009
- Ann Salon; Salon Casting; New Mexico
Rose Smith has been writing professionally since 1992. Her how-to and relationship articles have appeared in "Family Circle" and several other national publications. She has also written the books "Sizzling Monogamy" and "101 Ways to Date Your Mate." Smith holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Illinois State University.