Casting director Eyde Belasco takes us behind the scenes to discuss the process for finding the right actors for the role.

Key Insights

  • On an independent feature, the Casting Director usually joins a project 8-10 weeks before production. Their first task is to understand and align with the vision of the director. 
  • Timelines depend on the nature of the material and the availability of actors. Bigger-name actors can take more time to attach to a project; you may need to ultimately choose between dream talent or the production schedule.
  • The director's role is to communicate a vision for the film and the type of actors they see playing specific roles. With this information, the Casting Director will make lists of potential actors for these roles, supporting the vision of the director and suggesting unexpected options.
  • A script breakdown is used for casting calls. This breakdown describes every character's age, ethnicity, purpose in the story, size of the role, and other important descriptive details. 
  • For "Pre-reads", actors come in and read for the Casting Director who uses these sessions to decide who to recommend to the director and producers. 
  • "Director sessions" are set up for actors to read for the director, producers, and (sometimes) writers. 
  • If you’re a director, speak up if you’re not seeing what you want. It’s the job of the Casting Director to find the right person for the role, and they will continue the casting process to provide more choices.
  • The final job of the Casting Director is to negotiate the actor contracts which include shoot dates, fee, travel costs, on set accommodations, hair & makeup requirements, and any other details to be decided.
  • "Most Favored Nations" is a contract negotiation approach in which all actors are treated equally in their deal terms and pay. These contracts are often used on low budget independent films. An entire deal or specific parts of a contract can fall under a Most Favored Nations agreement.
  • If you don't have the budget or luxury of working with a Casting Director, there are still many ways to cast your project: using flyers, social media, exploring your network, and visiting acting schools or college theater departments are great ways to find talent.

Eyde Belasco has worked as a casting director on the independent feature films SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, MORRIS FROM AMERICA, BREATHE IN, THE WORDS, LIKE CRAZY, PARIAH, HERE, LYMELIFE, DON'T LET ME DROWN, and HALF NELSON, all of which screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Most recently in film, she cast MONOS (Sundance ’19) and NO NO NO YES. In television, she cast GIRLS WEEKEND (Sundance ’19) as well as TRANSPARENT and I LOVE DICK for Amazon. Other films include 500 DAYS OF SUMMER, BEHIND ENEMY LINES, and RESCUE DAWN. For her work on HALF NELSON and TRANSPARENT, she won the Artios Award for achievement in Casting. She is currently in her 23nd year as the West Coast Casting Director for the Sundance Institute. more...

Join the Discussion