DIFF Daily 2010

Dubai Film Forum: ‘Casting for Talent’ panel

Dec 16,2010 - 11:55 AM

If you want to succeed as an actor, it pays to ‘know your enemy’ – the casting director – but don’t do so by being pushy or resorting to frivolous gimmicks to get yourself noticed.
That was the advice from Egyptian actor Amr Waked, whose credits include roles in ‘Syriana’ and Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming ‘Contagion’, discussing the function of casting directors at a DIFF panel discussion on Tuesday.
According to Waked, the crux of an actor’s success hinges on his ability to perform the role well, and making the audience believe that he is the only person who could play that role. Focus on being authentic and the rest will follow.
‘You should never throw yourself in the past of a casting director; that should be the job of your agent. Do the best you can with what you have and then people will find you.’
Joining Waked on the panel were casting directors Dan Hubbard from the UK and Gerard Moulevrier from France.
Hubbard stressed on the importance for an actor to network intelligently by studying the industry in terms of who’s directing, producing, who are the casting directors and what choices are they making. He also encouraged actors in the region, of which there an estimated 5-10,000, to reach out to contacts throughout the world. ‘I tell young actors: it’s a global career.’
Speaking about the difficulties of the profession Moulevrier admitted: ‘We make mistakes’ when it comes to finding potential stars. ‘We could be walking right by the person who has the capability or has something to become someone big and important.’ Nonetheless, he believes it is a casting director’s obligation to look beyond the stable of recognisable names and find fresh faces.
All the panelists agreed that it could be difficult persuading established actors to audition for parts, unless the director also happens to be a big name. ‘There is an incredible amount of resistance across the profession,’ says Waked.
Making the life of a casting director even more challenging these days are the ever-tighter production schedules. ‘We used to have three months to find actors,’ recalled Moulevrier. ‘Now we can be given just two weeks to prep before shooting begins.’

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