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Casting Office v. Casting Agency

If you read the title of this blog and are learning for the first time that a casting office is not the same thing as an agency, don’t stress. We’ll break it down for you.

What is a casting office?

A casting office finds and facilitates the casting of actors in film, television, commercials, and more. This involves working closely with a production team to understand their needs, releasing projects to agents and independent talent, recommending talent for roles, and conducting auditions and callbacks.

What is a casting agency?

In smaller markets, you might encounter "casting agents," who do the job of a casting office while simultaneously representing talent.

At their core, these companies are a massive conflict of interest. In the state of California, lots of “casting agencies” have lawsuits against them for mismanagement of funds, to put it simply.

Why is this a conflict of interest?

Let’s say we have 100 spots to fill for an audition. When we release a casting to agents and independent talent in order to fill those slots, we are looking for 100 actors who are right for that particular role. Our paycheck doesn’t hinge on who is or isn’t selected, which allows us to make impartial judgement calls in order to find our clients the best possible fit for their project. Casting offices shouldn’t have anything to do with talent being paid - that’s the job of the talent agent.

When a casting agent approaches those audition slots, they fill all 100 slots with talent that they represent. Because most projects pay agents 10% or 20% on top of the talent pay rate, this casting agent is guaranteeing themselves two paychecks (one from casting, one from agency fees), and is not filling those 100 slots with the best possible options.

At our office, we always say that we don’t care where the solution comes from. Unfortunately, casting agents do.

We encourage you to remove the term “casting agent” from your vocabulary.

Talent agents - of which there are many fantastic ones here in the Chicago market - represent talent, producers represent the client, and casting offices mediate and facilitate the process of booking talent on jobs.

A legitimate casting office will never ask talent to pay in order to audition, claim to represent talent, or participate in other forms of pay-to-play. Protect yourself, and if something seems sketchy? It probably is.