The casting directors who came out to celebrate themselves at the 38th Annual Artios Awards on Thursday had a message for actors who worry that doing a self-tape means sending their work over the cliff: they do take the time to see your audition at home.
Casting Society President Destiny Lilly told Deadline that she recognizes that some actors are probably thinking that thosetapes made during the pandemic ended up in some huge, unopened pile of manila folders. And that couldn’t be further from the truth, he said.
“Artists make a living from what we do. We couldn’t do what we do without the artists,” Lilly said ahead of tonight’s awards ceremony at the Beverly Hilton. “Of course I listen to artists when they want to say something and of course what they say is valid. I miss the connection of being in the room with people. I miss that feeling of being with everyone else and having an actor come in and you think ‘that’s the guy!’ During the pandemic, it is not possible for us to do that. Now as an industry we’re slowly crawling away from that, we’re all re-examining how we approach casting, how to make it as safe and equitable as possible, and to make sure the actors do their best that work.”
We watch your tapes,” continued Lilly. “The most important thing to know is that actors solve problems for casting. We try to find people. We find you. We go through tapes. One of the things about having tapes is that it gives -allowed us to watch more than if we only had 10 people in the room. Our goal is to see how we can make this process work for everyone.”
Casting Society Board Member Steven Tyler O’Connor understands that actors miss in-person auditions, but no one has the luxury of offices anymore because of the pandemic. Most casting directors, like O’Connor, work from home.
“Until we get back and have studios and office space for artists to audition, what am I supposed to do, have artists come and audition in my backyard?” he said. “We want to get back in the room. I love actors. I want to see them in the room. I’m dying to get back in the room as much as they are. But we have some obstacles on our end.”
But he also thinks about being in the bedroom doesn’t mean it’s always better for an artist. “I think this notion that being personal is an advantage … I don’t think it’s true. if the paper is yours, the paper is yours. It will be translated to tape,” O’Connor said.
Casting Society Board Member Wendy Kurtzman is concerned that the current controversy over self-tapes there is no need to divide the community into factions. “It’s not going to be helpful to let people sit on one side and the other,” he said. “We are here together. You thought we were the gatekeepers. Don’t forget, we answer to producers and directors. We have a chain of command.”
“The most important thing to me is calmness [the situation],” Kurtzman said. “Artists are frustrated, they want to be seen. And by the way, we want to see them. We love having them in the room. We all need to sit up and hear what frustrates actors and see what casting can do to help alleviate that. But don’t forget we are in the middle of a seesaw. You have the actors at one end and the producers, networks and studios at the other. We are in the middle. We try to shepherd people to get them hired. That’s our job. We want them, we need them, we love them. We are all in this together. I don’t know how it suddenly became us against them.”