What it Takes to Cast a Movie

There are two elements to casting a film: Casting stars and casting the large number of actors that play smaller roles.

Casting smaller roles is more orderly. When a film is green-lighted by a studio, that is to say, financed and guaranteed distribution, casting agents are hired to select players for every role except the leads. Casting directors work closely with the director who makes the selections, but has to get final approval from the studio or distributor.

Selecting stars is a trickier business. Actors’ agents generally will not commit an actor to a project until the film is financed and their demand is guaranteed. This works for major studios but is virtually impossible for independent or smaller studios.

Serious actors, however, are not always attracted by a guaranteed fee and, if they like the screenplay and feel it will enhance their career—especially if they believe that the director can bring out the best in them—might be willing to accept the role even before it is fully financed.

The question then is how to make contact? That's part of the magic. I worked in tandem with a talented and powerful theatrical attorney who believed in me and loved my scripts and early films who often made connections.

There’s also kismet. Hints drop from heaven. I’m told nowadays fans sometimes mount a campaign on social media to try to draw a particular star to a particular property.

So is all the trouble worth the pursuit? As someone who has made films for the past 40-plus years, I have to say it can be a glorious life—especially if your screenwriter and film editor is your bashert.

Since everyone loves to suggest ideas for actors, tomorrow I’m going to share a few suggestions from family and friends for Dan and Marion in Bashert. I’d love to know who you would cast. I’m looking forward to reading your suggestions!

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