Hollywood Greats’ Quotes on Casting
Broadway casting directors are organizing for a union and fairness. They are the only workers on Broadway without a union, without healthcare, and without retirement programs.
As Broadway producers push back on the union drive, many supporters are looking back to the campaign that film and television casting directors waged a decade ago for a union. Casting directors won that fight with the support of Hollywood's great actors, directors, and other creative professionals. Like the Broadway #FairnessForCasting campaign, these celebrity supporters spoke about the essential role that casting directors play in the creative process and the solidarity they felt for their colleagues. Here are some of those statements of support.
The making of a film or television show is the result of a group of departments coming together…actors…directors…cameramen…sound…writers…we all know the list.
All of these departments have representation by a union or a guild (with pension and health care), all the departments except the casting directors.
Without Casting Directors, there is no show, no film…they fill the screens with “new faces”, “character actors”, “stars”, “day players”. It’s not just that they make things easier for a director, they are essential to every production.
Casting directors want to be afforded the same rights and protections as the other essential departments in the entertainment industry.
They have my support.
I would like to join my colleagues in the film community in supporting the unionization efforts of Casting Directors. Casting Directors deserve basic benefits and protection for themselves and their families. Why for a moment would anyone think that they should be treated differently than any other valued craftsperson that receive the same? Their requests are fair and worthy. I urge the AMPTP to hear their voice and understand and respect their needs.
It's not only actors who owe a great deal of their success to Casting Directors. Every filmmaker owes a debt of gratitude. They help shape your film. This is a basic way to recognize that.
Casting a film or television show is one of the critical aspect of the entire process. The business acumen inter-personal and organizational skills and refined taste required, makes casting a highly specialized field. I find it ridiculous that casting directors are excluded from benefit programs that the rest of our industry depends upon. I join my colleagues in fully supporting their unionization.
Joel & Ethan Coen
So many casting directors have worked so tirelessly over the years to provide the best acting ensembles for our films. it makes no sense that they be treated any differently than any other key crew members. We support their unionization effect.
The casting director is the director's first pair of eyes shaping the vision of the movie once the process of film making has started. This intimate collaboration between director and casting director yields the most significant decisions in the life of a film, choices that every crew and cast member knows will make or break his or her movie. Avy Kaufman has always been the first person I look to help bring the script from possibility to reality. It seems so inconceivable that she should not be rewarded with the same level of respect, benefits and security as every other member of the film team.
I don't understand how one of the most vital members of a film and tv crew, the casting director, could be without health benefits. Casting a movie will make or break the entire film. I have been so fortunate to work with so many of them as an actor, but it wasn't until I directed my first film that I truly learned how incredibly hard these men and women work and how crucial their input and creativity is to the success of a film. I fully support their unionization effort.
I think it's safe to say that none of us would have gotten anywhere in this business without the support and devotion of a community of casting directors. To extend to these men and women the fullest benefits our business can provide is only right and fair.
Casting directors must be afforded the same benefits that other key crew members are afforded. It's bizarre that this is even an issue. I absolutely support casting directors in their effort to unionize. I couldn't do my job without them — why in the world should they not have the same, important union support that I do?
Where would I be without casting directors…still bussing tables and delivering pizzas. Casting directors are the people who find new talent that audiences embrace and that subsequently drive the industry. They are the midwives to our careers and the idea that they are not rewarded for their efforts by union protection is absurd.
Casting directors have become a vital part of our work. It is time that they enjoyed the same benefits as the rest of us.
Casting directors are the unsung heroes of this industry. It is ridiculous to exclude them from these benefits-We are talking about basic necessities of life.
It’s ridiculous that Casting Directors don’t have health, retirement and union benefits as other crewmembers do. It’s an oversight that should be corrected.
Films are about people, characters. Finding the right actors to make those characters come to life is no accident. It's the Casting Director that has to wade through hundreds of people, headshots, auditions…..staying on top of who is out there. It's time that Casting people share in the same benefits available to the Carpenters, the Actors, the Grips. It is unbelievable that in 2005, they still do not have health benefits or pensions. I support the Casting Directors in their unionization efforts.
Benicio Del Toro
Casting directors have long been the unsung heroes in our industry. They have advanced and changed the lives of so many actors, simply by allowing them the opportunity of an audition or meeting. I consider them to be as equal to the filmmaking process as anyone involved that is of union status. As an actor, I have been protected by my union and strongly believe that casting directors have that same right.
As a member of S.A.G. & D.G.A. and a beneficiary of collective bargaining for nearly 45 years I’m honored to support our industry’s Casting Directors in their courageous effort to unionize which is the very fundamental right of every worker.
Casting Directors are having to struggle for treatment equal to their colleagues? Studios and networks should do the right thing and acknowledge their union status.
Casting Directors are certainly as integral to the success of a film as the Costume Designers, Editors, Location Managers, etc…..and they are responsible for the one element that holds audiences in thrall more than any other…the cast. How can they not be afforded the health and retirement benefits the rest of the community enjoys? I support their unionization effort.
I think it is quite obvious that the casting directors are long overdue to be represented by a union. Every other member of this industry is represented by a union and the people who spend hours and hours making sure that the studios, networks producers and directors all have the right people in their productions deserve the benefits and representation that we all enjoy. I support them 1000% in their desire to form their own union.
Within a business as powerful and wealthy as the film industry, all working people should have access to health benefits and negotiating rights, especially one might say, a group who so directly contribute to the creation of that wealth and power. I fully support the casting directors in their efforts to join what is the right of all working people, a union.
I was shocked to hear that casting directors aren't provided with the basic benefits that many others receive automatically. So many casting directors have worked tirelessly over the years to provide the best acting ensembles for our films and TV shows. It makes no sense that they be treated any differently than any other key crewmembers. I support their unionization effort.
I wanted to bring to your attention a matter that I feel deserves some note. Casting directors have played an important part in my life and career. Ever since Shari Rhodes picked me out of a crowd of hundreds to play the lead role in “A Man in the Moon” and subsequently launched my career, I realized how vital the role of the casting director is in this industry. Many facets of production benefit from their expertise and long hours of hard work.
Since their role in this industry is integral, I believe that casting directors should be supported and recognized in the same ways that other production members are and should be entitled to the same benefits and privileges.
I've gotten a lot of credit for our shows' casting through the years. It's a pleasure to be able to tell the world that the bulk of that credit was earned by casting directors. They should have the same benefits and privileges as those enjoyed by members of SAG, DGA, and the other unions in our industry.
As someone who values the role of every group and individual that contributes to film and television production, I hope that the casting directors will receive the basic benefits they need and deserve. I absolutely support their efforts to accomplish those goals.
The first person I call, even before the movie has a green light, is the casting director. The collaboration in this most crucial element of filmmaking, is invaluable to me. The casting director is as important an element to filmmaking as the production designer, costume designer, and the director of photography. Let's get real. We must respect the contribution casting directors make.
Casting directors play an integral role in entertainment productions and should not be without basic benefits. That's why I fully support the unionizing of casting directors and casting associates. I urge the AMPTP to allow negotiations thus avoiding a potential work stoppage. Casting directors and their families ought to enjoy basic benefits of medical coverage, pension plans and assured timely payment.
As an actor, you rely on a casting director not only for your livelihood, but also hope someone will consider you for a particular job that will allow you to prove that you can do things no one else thought you were capable of. It is through these people that we are given opportunities. As a filmmaker, one depends on a casting director to resurrect an actor and help you to rediscover someone that you might not have naturally come to on your own. They also introduce you to the new breed of actors that are fighting for their chance to become our next reliable character actors, or one of the A list stars which we value so much. I guarantee that it is casting directors who make these researched efforts and say to a filmmaker, “You have to look at this young man. His name is Robert DeNiro and I think he is wonderful". It is from the seed of an idea that the gardens of our films grow, and this warrants our deepest respect.
Without casting directors, I would not be lucky enough to be eligible for the support and protection of my own union. It seems only logical that they, who give actors such opportunities to do the work they love under protected conditions, should benefit from the same services unions provide. My best wishes and support to your unionization efforts.
Casting directors help shape decisions that generate billions of dollars in profits. It is unconscionable that they should be denied the same benefits and protections that everyone else in the industry has access to.
To deny the importance or relevancy of the "Casting Director" is to win the gold medal at the "Ignorance Olympics". Without them there is simply no start to the single most effective tool in moving the audience – The Cast! It is truly shocking that a department as important as this is without the most basic, "no-brainer" benefits. Anyone who stands in the way of this should be ashamed. And I hope they chip their tooth as they mistake their medal for chocolate.
I don't understand why Casting Directors shouldn’t be taken care of and looked out for like the rest of us. They are as critical a part of the process as any of us? It never occurred to me that they weren't in a union or didn't have medical coverage or pensions. Give me a good reason they shouldn't have the same basics as everyone else?"
Orson Wells once said, 'A poet needs a pen, a painter needs a brush, a director needs an army.' And in building that army the casting director is responsible for recruiting, in this actor's opinion, the most visible and magical part of that army, the cast.
The casting director finds new talent, can convince a director to look at a familiar face in a new way or can combine the known and the unknown to create an exciting mix of both.
If it hadn't been for the faith some casting directors had in me many years ago I might be asking you if you wanted fries with your burger.
It is time to afford this part of our army all the benefits they deserve. I whole heartedly support their efforts to unionize.
Casting people are not bad people; some people think of them as good.
They're seeking safety in numbers and should be organized.
As a member of SAG, AFTRA and the WGA, I wholeheartedly support the unionization of Casting Directors. All people working within our industry unquestionably deserve equal benefits. Film and television productions require many skilled people — from costumers to actors to catering. All are unionized and therefore enjoy benefits such as health care and safe working conditions. Why deny these same rights for that person who gave us our first job?
As a producer and member of one of the other major groups that does not receive standard benefits such as medical coverage and a pension plan I fully support the casting directors initiative to be fairly regarded in the eyes of the AMPTP.
Casting directors are the only life line of this industry. Without them producers would be completely unable to make films and television (reality or scripted). To deny them the ability to make a living wage with benefits is more than arrogant. It's suicide.
Casting directors are as integral as any other above-the-line positions in the making of a film. They should be treated as such by the industry.
I cannot imagine making a film without a casting director. They deserve to be accepted into a union and I support them totally.
My casting directors have contributed to my films as much as any actor or crewmember. They absolutely deserve the same recognition, compensation and protection.
Mayor James K. Hahn
“I believe that every worker deserves basic benefits and the right to representation. As Mayor, I've seen that unions are effective advocates for issues of importance to workers in city government," said Mayor Jim Hahn. "Casting directors and associates form an integral part of the entertainment industry, and they are entitled to fair wages, health and pension benefits. I look forward to working with the representatives chosen by these workers through the democratic process.”
It is ludicrous that casting directors do not have health care, pension, or union benefits that those of us in the industry so cherish. They are an essential part of the success of our business and their contributions are invaluable. The need to take care of their families should not be denied. I urge the AMPTP to honor their needs.
The idea that casting directors are not unionized is absurd and must be rectified. I cannot fathom a story coming to life without the partnership and guidance of our casting directors who work tirelessly finding the perfect fit for every single face you seen on screen. They are a motivating and essential part of the film making process and should be treated with the same respect and protection that other crew members are given.
Casting Directors are certainly an integral part to the success of any film. How can they not be afforded the health and retirement benefits the rest of our community rely on. I fully support their unionization effort.
Gary David Goldberg
The casting directors on Family Ties, Brooklyn Bridge and Spin City were a vital part of the success of those shows. It seems to me grossly unfair that they would not receive the same benefits as the other members of our crew.
I had no idea that you guys were set adrift like that.
It's both appalling and inconceivable that there are no medical or pension benefits afforded to a group of people who are such a fundamental part of the filmmaking process. Casting Directors should not be denied the benefits that every other Guild and Union provides.
I fully support the casting directors in their efforts to enjoy the benefits that I believe they rightfully earn. I hope that all our Guilds and Unions would join them in this effort to correct an unfair and untenable situation.
The casting people find the talent before the rest of the industry even knows they exist and they certainly deserve the same rights and benefits that actors get.
After the script, casting is the next most important stage in making a movie. The importance of it is incalculable but as a director I often say that 50% of the job is getting the casting just right. And you can't do that without a casting director – their skills and knowledge and creativity. It is ridiculous and unjust that they do not receive the same health and retirement benefits afforded the rest of us. I am behind them all the way in their efforts to correct this.
The last film I worked on had something like 130 speaking parts in five languages, an undertaking unimaginable without the counsel of brilliant casting directors who combed Karachi and Damascus, Beirut, Cairo, Paris, London, New York and Los Angeles. The ensemble cast they helped assemble is as integral to the film as the photography, editing or score. It seems odd and pejorative that this department would be the one department elided in terms of health and pension benefits, as well as denied their own branch in the Academy. I wholeheartedly support the unionization and powerseizing by casting directors everywhere.
Bob Teitel, State Street Pictures
Casting personnel are definitely a key part of making a great film. Some of our most successful films (SOUL FOOD, BARBERSHOP 1 & 2) have been so special because of chemistry among ensembles of talented and unique actors chosen by knowledgeable and professional casting personnel. They should absolutely enjoy the same union security and benefits that most other sections of Hollywood enjoys.
I was surprised to find out that casting directors are not already unionized. It seems odd to me that casting, an essential part of any production, is not provided with the same protection and benefits as every other department.
Patricia Heaton and David Hunt
The job that the Casting Directors do is important and they deserve the same benefits that everyone else is privileged to receive.
Casting Directors are as important as any other member of my creative team. They are our link and hold the key to what makes a television show or film special and unique, 'A GREAT CAST'. It is time for our Casting Directors to stop being treated as second class citizens. I support their unionization effort. Why should they have less than others?
As an actress/writer and now about to direct a film I am constantly dealing with casting directors. I had no idea they didn't have basic benefits like all of us. This is shocking new to me because their work is the foundation on what a film gets built, just like the script. Without a good cast it is impossible to make a good film. If they stop working the whole industry could collapse. Their demand is fair and just and should be fulfilled.
As a writer-director whose movies owe everything to the actors who take the leap with me, I have always relied on the skill and taste of my casting directors. They are my first, best allies. It's outrageous that they are still without the protection a union affords every other member of my team. I support their efforts to organize and I ask the rest of the film and television community to join me.
I wholeheartedly support the effort by Casting Directors to receive the same basic benefits, protections and representation that all other members of our Entertainment Community enjoy. It is amazing to me that there is even any question whether they are due these rights and guarantees or not. Their work in the casting of our film and TV shows is easily as valuable as any other department in our business.
So many casting directors have worked so tirelessly over the years to provide the best acting ensembles for our films and TV shows. It makes no sense that they be treated any differently than any other key crew members. I support their unionization effort.
Casting Directors’ skill at spotting talent and orchestrating the casting process is a unique one and, as a result, they have long prided themselves on their independence. But the time has come for them to be treated, as a group, the way so many industry professionals are treated: with basic protections, reward for longevity, and respect.
Movies are made by teams, not by individuals. Casting directors are essential players in the creation of a film. Why should they work without the rights, benefits, and protections accorded to everyone else on the team? I support the efforts of casting directors in the US to unionize so that they can enjoy the same benefits and securities that everyone else they're working with does.
The essential contribution of casting directors to the creative process of filmmaking and series television cannot be overstated. Along with writers, directors and cinematographers, their vision and craft define what we see on screen. It's unconscionable that they don't receive the same basic protections and benefits that virtually everyone else we work with has had for decades.
As a long-standing and integral part of the entertainment industry's landscape, Casting Directors are justifiably deserving of negotiating privileges. I support their right to unionize and secure the same benefits afforded to me as an actor.
Casting Directors must have an organization to protect them against the vicissitudes of this ungainly business. Moreover, the health benefits, and other benefits from a well-organized union are necessary, as well.
Casting directors help illuminate the work of every other guild member, so why aren't they treated the same?
The right to form a union for the protection and benefit of its members is just that – a right. To deny the Casting Directors an integral and essential part of our business, basic – basic benefits through the formation of a union is not only unfair it's immoral.
Many of the Casting Directors are women that are single mothers or sole earners for single income families. When the Casting Directors are denied the basic benefits that a union would provide, you are denying families and children those benefits. From my perspective, not as a producer but as a human being, this is an unacceptable condition.
Knowing that the Casting Directors are predominantly female, I would hate to believe that this right is being denied because of sexism. But why else allow others to unionize and not them?
They are not asking to destroy a working business model. They are simply seeking a union that can collectively bargain to protect the lowest paid with fair minimums along with basic health care and pension benefits.
I don't believe any producers reading this lack pension and health benefits…Why then would you deny this to your friends and coworkers who are Casting Directors?
This is a tough, smart and motivated group who need these benefits, and who I know, eventually, will form a union one way or another. I support a casting directors union fully.
I was shocked to learn that there is no organized union for casting directors. Unions, and the protection and support that they provide, are a vital part of the process of maintaining equity in the United States. A denial of one's right to organize is a denial of equality and justice.
Casting directors are the unsung heroes of the movie business. Their invaluable, indispensable contribution to the filmmaking process should be acknowledged with the same respect accorded to virtually every other department head. Can anyone rationally explain why they have been denied the same benefits and protections that the rest of us enjoy? It makes no sense.
It seems only fair and just that Casting Directors be afforded the same standard benefits as almost all other crafts in the filmmaking industry. Let’s give them their long awaited and deserved due.
Casting Directors deserve to have a Union and all the benefits the rest of us enjoy.
If it weren't for casting directors, producers and directors over the last 30 years would not have known that I was alive. And because of great casting directors like Nancy Foy and many others, I have had a 30 year career in show business and I am currently starring on Broadway in “Sweet Charity.
It came as a complete surprise to learn that our casting directors are treated differently from other key people in the industry. Their input adds immeasurably to the film making process. They need and deserve the benefits they seek. Their unionization is way overdue.
Over the past twenty years, I have had the opportunity of working with some of the finest casting directors in our business, in both the film and television communities. I was appalled to discover recently that these men and women are not provided with basic benefits that the rest of us working in the entertainment industry take for granted. It is time we do what’s fair and give the casting community the union protections it deserves. I wholeheartedly support their unionization effort.
Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen
The vital service Casting Directors provide on a film or television project is as integral to the process as that of any other department head. The fact that they are the only department heads not eligible for health coverage and pension benefits is clearly unfair and should be rectified.
It is ridiculous that Casting Directors, some of the hardest working and most important people in our business, are without health care benefits or union protection. I fully support their stand.
We're all in the same business. We're all subject to dry spells of employment. No one should be without health care benefits.
It is criminal, and totally against the spirit of the Alliance, to have a group as important to the creative movie making process as the casting directors, not be allowed the full benefits accorded to union members.
John C. Reilly
The time has come (long overdue) to recognize the right of casting directors to be afforded the protections and benefits that all other members of the film making community now have through union membership. Casting directors are a vital part of the creative process and deserve the same respect and rights as all other members of our community. All actors know at least one casting director who helped get them started (I do) and ask any director and they will tell you what an indispensable role casting directors play in every production. Support the movement to welcome casting directors to our unions they deserve no less.
Casting directors were always in my corner as I started my career and the least I can do is be there for them now, to help assure they receive the benefits and protection they so highly deserve.
Casting directors are essential to filmmaking, and it is essential that all of us who already have the right to organize – who already have health coverage and pension plans, who already have all the basic benefits and protections that only a union can provide for its members – fully support our friends and collaborators who have been unfairly denied these rights far too long.
To me casting has always been a vital and integral part of my creative team just like cinematography, editing, production design, costumer design etc. All of the other department heads are protected by a collective bargaining agreement and receive benefits. It's time for the casting profession to be recognized for the huge contribution they make to the creative process.
I fully support the efforts of the casting directors of America to organize and share in the benefits of a union. It is critical that actor’s directors and producers join in this effort. Without our casting directors the task of making quality films and television would be impossible.
The casting directors clearly deserve the basic benefits that the rest of the industry takes for granted. Common fairness would suggest that we support their efforts.
It is crazy and wrong that casting directors are being denied the right to organize as a labor force. Health coverage, a pension plan, the ability to bargain collectively, these are fundamental workers' rights that our colleagues in casting are being unfairly denied. I fully support them in their campaign.
I was shocked to hear that casting directors aren’t provided with the basic benefits that so many others receive automatically. It’s a situation that needs to be corrected. Now.
Trying to make a production a success without the aid of a casting director is like going fishing without a rod or a hook.
Trying to create a successful project without the help of a casting director is like setting sail without a compass.
Trying to create a successful project without the help of a casting director is like trying to bake bread without the help of dough.
Trying to create a successful project without the help of a casting director is like trying to make chicken soup without the help of a chicken.
A casting director is as key to a successful project as the brains it takes to hire one.
The best writing, directing and producing in the world are for naught without the assistance of the casting director who will make those efforts come to life by finding the players who will breathe life into the enterprise.
I fully support the casting directors wish to be allowed to join a union. They play a very important role in the entertainment business, and over the course of my career both as an actor and director, I have found their talents invaluable. They are also the rare breed of person who show a great deal of courtesy and compassion towards performers, which is much appreciated. Surely they deserve the same security and benefits as the rest of the industry, within which they work so hard.
When I think of casting directors, I never fail to remember and to be grateful to the late, beloved Howard Feuer for the extraordinary contribution he made to the success of The Silence of the Lambs. It is indeed ironic and sad that geniuses like Howard, who have done so much to advance the careers of actors, directors and screenwriters such as myself, should be denied the same sort of union benefits that the rest of us take almost for granted. This is wrong – simply wrong – and it's time for the filmmaking community to join our casting director colleagues in pushing for a change.
"This is crazy, who is benefiting by denying the casting directors what is simply basic to every other member of the entertainment community? This is crazy!!
Casting Directors are the connection between the directors and the actor. This among other reasons make them just as significant as the editor, writer, costumer, or any other key player that brings a script from paper to the screen.
It’s disheartening to know that they are not recognized as such. This lack of recognition not only affects the casting directors it affects their families. It’s amazing that they have maintained this long.
I am writing this letter with hopes that the AMPTP will allow them to negotiate the benefits their colleagues their colleagues and peers receive. I strongly believe if changes aren’t made our industry will suffer greatly.
The refusal of the AMPTP to negotiate with professionals who cast our movies and television productions is a travesty of justice and respect. How many productions have succeeded because of the introduction of wonderful new talent discovered by those who we rely on to fill our cast with the best possible actors. How many times has the intervention and relationships of a casting directors caused an actor or agent to agree to take part be or she might not have considered. Casting directors act as producers, representatives of the director and full artists in their own right. They sometimes work long hard intense hours often away from their families and homes. They are a part of the entire production team and deserve to be treated in a like manner. They deserve all the benefits and respect accorded the craft service personnel who under a union contract clean up our sets. They deserve all the benefits and respect accorded to the producers, directors, actors and writers who so greatly benefit from the insights, hard work and talent of the casting community.
Know that you have my full support in your quest to achieve the same benefits that most of us in the industry already enjoy. It's a matter of right, and I wish you success in your dealings with the AMPTP.
Casting Directors provide a crucial and integral service to film and television. To deny them the same basic benefits enjoyed by the other members of the film and television service community is a travesty.
Lauren Shuler Donner
Filmmaking is an essentially collaborative medium. To that end, the film industry must be fair and equitable in the way it treats the key components of that collaboration. To deny casting directors the right to unionize is to discriminate against one of our own.
Casting directors are an integral part of the creation of my movies. It seems fair to me that they should be treated as a group, the way my other creative colleagues are treated: with basic protections and respect.
A director, writer, and casting agent are camped out in a Los Angeles Hotel Suite. They're casting six roles for an eighty-million dollar picture. They're seeing fifteen actors a day for five days. Time is so tight they're eating two meals a day in the suite, involving a total of nine different room service waiters. Of the eighty-seven people in and out of that room during the course of the week, guess how many don't have health insurance, a pension plan, or a union to protect them. One. The casting agent. It's wrong and it needs to be fixed.
It's hard to see how casting directors are different than any other department head on a movie who enjoys full union protection. I am represented by both the Directors Guild and the Writers Guild and those are benefits I would never want to sacrifice. It seems unconscionable to tell a casting director that they can't have what the rest of us already do.
If you don't get the casting right, you might as well forget it. With the right people in place, you're halfway there. I figure that entitles a casting director to be properly taken care of.
Any motion picture or television show that enjoys critical, popular and financial success owes a generous helping of that success to casting. The chemistry that happens between actors on screen is no accident. It has its origins in the vision and artistry of the casting director. The casting community has made a vital and immeasurable contribution to the success and well-being of the entertainment industry since its inception. All of us are indebted to those talented individuals who recognize the potential magic and help us bring that magic to the screen. The men and women of the casting community fully deserve all the rights and benefits enjoyed by others in this industry.