NYWIFT Blog

Acting Up: Interview With Casting Director Brette Goldstein

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Casting director Brette Goldstein has cast over 40 independent films—many of which have won awards and been official selections at major film fests, including Sundance, Tribeca and Cannes—as well as numerous commercials and plays and several TV and digital projects.

Goldstein was the resident casting director at the Folger Elizabethan Theatre in Washington, DC, for 10 seasons, and is the former co-producing director of the Washington Jewish Theatre, production manager at Washington Shakespeare Co., and associate producer of the Washington Theatre Festival. She teaches audition technique at various NYC studios and several universities.

What’s your favorite way for actors to build relationships with casting directors?
Relationships are built on trust. I love actors that I can trust to come in prepared, camera-ready, grounded, focused and having read the script. They connect with their reader, listen to adjustments and leave their ego at the door. They know that our relationship is built on mutual respect. If they keep coming in with good, well-prepared work, I will continue to push for them and find roles for them, even if it’s against type. They know that this is the bottom line. I’m not here to be their “momager.” I’m here to make them money and help them land great work.

What’s the best way to land great work?
Only submit and push yourself for roles you’re perfect for. Know how different casting directors like to be contacted. Read the script. Be on time. Ask relevant questions if you have them. In terms of the scene, know your objective, the relationship, how you want to make the other character feel, and where you are in space and time. This will all inform your energy in the scene.

If you come into the room “in your head” and disconnected, take a beat to ground yourself, connect with your reader, breathe and begin. You never know when you’ll only get one take, so you’ll want to make that first take a fabulous take. All of these things help build great relationships with casting directors.

Once you’ve met an actor, what’s the best way for them to follow up and keep you in the loop?
Personally, I feel like I’m buried in emails. Sometimes my phone won’t ring at all, but I will get 700 emails on any given Tuesday. I would love to never receive an email again that wasn’t specifically project-related. I would prefer snail mail. I am a big fan of my files. I keep headshots and resumes of actors that I love.

This being said, I don’t require the “upkeep” when it comes to following up as I generally go to my files first for legit projects. If I like you, I should have your picture on file. If actors see something posted, think they’re perfect for it, and haven’t heard from me yet, that’s when email communication is appreciated. There are other casting directors that only want to be kept in touch with through email. It’s worth noting the preferences of your industry contacts.

How much does an actor’s social media presence play into casting?
It definitely contributes to casting in general. Building a fan base is important for your career trajectory. Your online content and fan base can help you secure representation. It could not only land you an audition, it could land you a role. Your online content gives us a sense of not only your acting chops, but also your creative voice and ability to wear many hats (when it comes to self-produced work). Your online fan base is also, to some extent, quantifiable, and after all, this is a business. We love seeing how many people love you.

Any thoughts on social media best practices?
While building your fan base, be sure to also be respectful of social media boundaries. For example, I would recommend not tagging or posting your own clips or promotional material on the Facebook wall of a casting director. That being said, know your audience. There are definitely some casting directors who love Facebook. Then, there are those like me who use Facebook only for personal reasons or when I need to reach out to a large group for help with a project (e.g., running a camera, being a reader).

How do you use social media to cultivate relationships?
I try to champion actors’ work, funny tweets and great stories on social media…even if I only have time for a like, favorite or share. I admire those that create great work and put themselves out there. I want to be a fan! It’s fun!

Can you share a story about how social media played a part in casting a project that you were working on?
I must admit I’ve had to reach out to actors, especially improv performers, through Twitter! I couldn’t find them any other way. No contact information on IMDbPro, no website, but it worked most of the time on Twitter or Facebook. One time I tried to reach out to James Franco on Facebook. That didn’t work. I have also found improv performers by following funny folks on Twitter that were somehow recommended by Twitter.

What’s the best way for an actor to get on your radar and stay on your radar?
I meet many actors at networking workshops/classes. I have cast many of these actors in projects, and the relationship we build in the room, even if it’s five minutes, goes a long way when it comes to calling them in and giving them a strong recommend.

MARISA VITALI

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nywift New York Women in Film & Television supports women calling the shots in film, television and digital media.

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