Casting Directors, Career-Makers

Tara Karajica talked to Prague-based US casting director Nancy Bishop (THE NOVEMBER MAN, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 4) about the importance of a casting director, the difference between the casting process in Europe and Hollywood and between casting stars and younger actors at the beginning of their career.

Nancy Bishop

Tell us about the importance of casting directors and what made you become one? Well, it happened by accident for me. I was a theater director and I was in Prague at a time when there were many film productions coming to shoot there. And so, I knew the talent and I knew the talents who were working so they would come to me. I had skills with actors, I could direct, I could get a performance out of them. So, that’s how my career started. It wasn’t really intentional. Casting directors assemble the talent, work as part of the production team and we create a palette of faces and talent that get together, that synergize, that have chemistry…

What is the difference between the casting process in Europe and in Hollywood? Well, I would say it’s similar. And, you know, if you have a big budget film, I think it’s the same in Europe as it is in America, which is that you need some kind of big name talent to get the budget going. I think one difference is that in Europe, small countries have a film commission which finances films, and if it is already financed then you don’t have to worry so much about having a big talent for the green light. But in America, you’ve got the studios that finance the films but then, independent filmmakers have to raise the money themselves. There is no American film commission that gets them the money and they can’t apply for grants.

What is the difference between casting a star and actors like shooting stars or the Berlinale Talents actors? The ones who are less known have to read for it. They have to go through the audition process. We give them part of the script and we work with them. And then, of course, with big stars, we just offer the part to them.

Do you love your job? Sure! Yeah!