Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Interview with Casting Director Lisa London

Lisa London has a casting career that expands over twenty-five years. She has discovered (along with her business partner, Catherine Stroud) and/or cast many notable actors or actresses early in their careers such as Miley Cyrus in HANNAH MONTANA, Jonah Hill in GRANDMA'S BOY, Emma Stone and Katharine McPhee in HOUSE BUNNY, Selena Gomez in the Disney pilot, WHAT'S STEVIE THINKING and Giovanni Ribisi in ELLEN. She currently finished casting the VH1 series; "Hit the Floor" which just got picked up for its 3rd season and a new Disney Channel pilot, Growing Up and Down starring Adam Irigoyen and Raini Rodriquez and a number of new comers.

Recently, Lisa released a book entitled, From Start to Stardom (A Casting Director’s Guide for Aspiring Actors) The book is a step-by-step guide which lays out what an actor needs to know to have the best shot at stardom. fromstarttostardom.com

Lisa is just one of the amazing panelists at the upcoming 
Vancouver Actor Symposium at Capilano University on September 20. 

When you get a new film or TV project what is your typical audition process?

Lisa: I read the script, make a list of all the roles that have to be cast. Discuss those roles, with the producers, director, network and/or studio executives and find out how they see the characters. Then we send out a breakdown which describes what we are looking for to all the agents and managers. Sometimes, if we are doing a search, we also go outside the box and send notices to acting schools, dance classes, etc., depending on what type of role we are looking for. We go through the pictures and resumes on-line and decide who we want to come into read for the roles. Then we start auditioning actors by having them come into read for us, going on tape, or putting themselves on tape if they are out of Los Angeles (this is especially helpful when we are doing a search across the country. Also, if we are casting a project that shoots for example in New Orleans, then we would have actors go on tape for the roles that we need to cast in that area.) We decide who to show to the producers, directors, etc. We have callbacks, sometimes more than one callback depending on the project and then it is a usually a group discussion between all the producers, director and executives as to who gets the role.

Is it more challenging to cast a film or a series?

Lisa: They both can be challenging depending on the scope of the project and what is needed. Both a series and a film have their own challenges, but it is very rewarding putting together a great ensemble that work well together or finding new talent that goes on to have a successful career.

How did you become a casting director?

Lisa: I had the good fortune of growing up with a dad who is a Hollywood television director, Jerry London. He directed many television shows from The Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, Kojak, 6 Million Dollar Man, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Happy Days and then became the king of the mini-series including Shogun, Ellis Island, Chiefs and Wheels. I got to travel all over the world and hang out on sets with him. I was always interested in the actors and their journeys. I would spend lots of time talking to them and asking them questions about how they started in their careers and what they did to become a successful working actor. When I worked as a production assistant on a pilot that my dad was directing, I got to sit in on all the casting sessions. The Casting Directors were Lynn Stalmaster and Toni Howard and they had one of the top casting companies at the time. They offered me a job and it was definitely the right fit for me since I always loved actors.

What made you want to write a book about acting?

Lisa: Because I really like actors and wanted to help them succeed. I get asked all the time, by teens, young adults, parents, many aspiring actors and sometimes even by more seasoned actors, how do I get started? What do I need to do to succeed in this business? How come I don't get callbacks? I wrote this book to give them a step-by-step journey, laying out what they need to know to have the best shot at stardom.

What will actors learn from your book Start to Stardom?

Lisa: Everything! That was the point of the book – it really has something for every actor – whether they are just starting out, or even those actors who have been at it for a while. The book covers things such as the do's and don'ts of head shots, how to get auditions, what to do once you’ve gotten one. How to get an agent or manager – what good questions to ask them when going on an interview, all the steps to auditioning including how to enter the room and even how to leave the audition… so many details that many people never think of, but they can make such a difference in how you are perceived as an actor. This book is geared towards making you a professional.

What one piece of advice would you give an actor coming in to audition for you?

Lisa: DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Understand what kind of show you are auditioning for – who are the players – meaning – Who is the Director, Producer – have you watched the show (if it’s an ongoing series), otherwise if it’s a new project or a film project – what kind of movies or projects have the Director or Producer already done? Are you familiar with their movies? Do they do slapstick comedies or more sophisticated features? Do your research before you step foot into that casting session. I always say, knowledge equals power and the more you know the better you will do in an audition.

1 comment :

Monea'e Marriott said...

Lisa London is amazing ! I met her this past month while training with CGTV celebrity training camp in California. She is such a kind informative industry professional ! Her book , From Start to Stardom , will be one of the best things you can get to further your career!

Thanks so much Lisa ! I look forward to meeting you again soon one day! :)

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