A talent director, also known as a casting director, helps the director of a film, television show, play, or commercial to choose actors for roles in his or her production. Talent directors are responsible for finding actors, negotiating contracts, holding auditions, and managing the casting budget. They are usually required to work with actors, talent agents and agencies, and directors in order to serve the needs of the production.
Usually, the first thing a talent director will do is review a script, making notes about all its casting requirements. He or she will probably make a comprehensive list of all the roles it has — lead, minor-speaking, and non speaking — and all the scenes where extras are needed. At some point in this process, the talent director will probably discuss with the director or producers their preferences, vision, or requirements for the cast.
A talent director's first responsibility is to the director. He or she helps the director find actors that are appropriate for each role, often seeking out actors for the director to review in an audition or a series of auditions. As a rule, the director controls the actor choice for all speaking roles, especially the lead ones. On large scale productions such as feature films, the director often entrusts the talent director with all other casting decisions, giving only general instructions for casting extras and non-speaking roles.
Talent directors work with talent agents and agencies to create a pool of potential actors for the director to choose from for each role. For lead roles and roles where a director has already picked his or her preferred actor, talent directors will contact the chosen actors, often through their agents, to see if they are willing and available to work on the production. The talent director may schedule a reading with a chosen actor so the director can get a feel for whether the actor will suit the role.
Talent directors also often hold casting calls and auditions to evaluate actors. Auditions offer the director and talent director the opportunity to see a variety of actors playing a particular role, often using the same set of lines. The number of actors performing in an audition will vary according to the size of the production, the scope of the role, and the needs of the director. Directors often wish to review a particular actor's performance, so talent directors usually record auditions.