Salary Info: Casting Director

Name: Amy Klein
Job Title: Casting Director
Where: Los Angeles, CA
Education: College of the Redwoods, UCLA
Years of Experience: 15+
Salary: Varies project to project
Employer: Self

Casting Director Job Description:

As a Casting Director, it’s my job to evaluate all the speaking roles in a script and make lists of "name" actors for the roles, along with their availability and schedule for the project. I have casting calls for feature films, casting calls for tv shows, casting calls for teenagers, movie auditions and casting calls for kids. I audition actors for speaking parts and present the best choices for the parts to the Producers/Director/Studios. Then the deals are negotiated, usually with their talent agency.

How did you choose to become a casting director?

During college, I fell into the entertainment industry by way of working at an investment firm; one of their clients was the owner of a Los Angeles talent agency. It was summer break in college; he set up an interview for me. A few weeks later I got a phone call asking if I’d like to fill in for one of the assistants who was out for a week; I ended up staying for 2 years. On my first day, right after the feature film “Dirty Dancing” was released, Patrick Swayze asked me where the men’s room was! I was hooked!

What do you love about casting?

I love that moment when I’m reading with an actor and I feel that “click”… that feeling that this person just nailed it and we were both in the actual moment of the scene.

What advice would you have for those who want to be a casting director? What is the starting pay for a casting director?

The best advice that I can give is to start either as an assistant at a talent agency or as an intern with a casting director. While the hours are very long and the starting pay is very little, $350-$400 per week, what you learn is priceless. You get hands-on experience.

So you can’t be focused, solely, on the starting pay for a casting director. Plus, you must have patience and be a people person. You encounter hundreds of people a day. Sensitivity to an “actor’s way” of doing his or her craft is also very important. Some come into the room already “in character,” some need a few takes to get there; you can’t rush them.

What was your funniest moment on the job?

Probably getting a foot massage by a well-known actor while auditioning him for a seduction scene for a feature film. Afterwards, he decided I was tense and needed my back cracked.

Which actor was that?

Can’t tell you the actor, it wouldn’t be fair.

What is the salary range of a casting director?

As far as salary range is concerned, it varies by project. Some are high, some are low… it depends on the studios and your passion for the project. A lot of indie films don’t pay you up front at all for an independent film casting call; there is no starting pay, but you get a piece of the film’s profits. As for highs and lows in salary range, casting directors can make upwardly towards $100,000 per feature film… full length film casting calls… although I haven’t been lucky enough to hit that salary range.

Sometimes the pay rate is $5,000 per major role in a feature film, or a guaranteed salary of $10,000 for 2 weeks, etc. Again, the salary range depends on the budget, who’s producing, etc.

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