August 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm #107025
Casting Directors Celebrate New Academy Branch, Hope for Casting Oscar
6:46 PM PDT 7/31/2013 by Tim Appelo
“I didn’t go into this to win awards, but it’s certainly nice to be recognized,” says Kerry Barden, who cast Octavia Spencer in “The Help” and Hilary Swank in “Boys Don’t Cry.”
Will the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’s July 31 announcement of a new branch for casting directors lead to an Oscar for casting?
“I hope so,” says Kerry Barden, a board member of the Casting Society of America who cast Oscar winner Octavia Spencer in The Help and had to fight to cast Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry — for which Swank thanked him in her Oscar speech. Barden, who is applying for Academy membership this year, says, “The precedent was set by the Emmys, which started a casting award that we got nominated for the first year, for Sex and the City, and Jennifer McNamara went on to win the next two years in a row. Finally, the Spirit Awards also started acknowledging casting directors.” Barden believes the trend points to an eventual Oscar category for casting, but “it won’t happen tomorrow,” cautions one Hollywood casting expert.
Reacting to the news of the new casting branch, most casting directors contacted by The Hollywood Reporter chose to focus on Wednesday’s victory rather than mention the long-running campaign to add a casting Oscar — perhaps because campaigning for more when you’ve just won a lot might smack of ingratitude.
“This is a really triumphant day for us, and [Academy president] Cheryl Boone Isaacs is wonderful,” says 22-year Academy member Pam Dixon, a former CSA president who has won one of the CAS Artios cast awards and also received six nominations. “We’re so excited about getting a branch after all these years. We’re going to be represented on the board of governors. We’ve never had that before. This makes us equal to the other crafts, and that’s more important than any award we would get at the moment. This is such a major step because our numbers are not that enormous.”
Richard Hicks, Dixon’s successor as CSA president, says casting directors were on the phone to each other all day to exult. “Everybody’s kibbitzing and celebrating, but we haven’t set up any Maypoles yet,” he says.
Barden commented that casting is coming out of the shadows. “The old guard at the Academy didn’t consider casting as an art, or us as the final deciders, but neither is the production designer,” he says. “We get choices, just like a designer, and the director or producer then says, ‘I like that table/rug/actor/costume/location — let’s shoot it.'”
“I feel like this is all part of the process of making people aware of what we do,” says Barden. “For 10 years, my mother said, ‘Now what exactly do you do — pick the actors?’ I said, ‘Um, no, not exactly, mother.’ I didn’t go into this to win awards, but it’s certainly nice to be recognized.”August 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm #107027
Never I suspect. They might add an honorary award for someone with a great career every few years. But casting directors for individual films makes little sense. For one thing, they usually share their duties with the producers and directors. And the results of their choices more often are the result of the work of the director and the actors, not the person who cast them. It would be an impossible category to judge. The Academy in any event is not looking to add categories. This one would be extremely dubious.August 1, 2013 at 6:33 pm #107028
It’s a ridiculous notion. Plus, it would cheapen the award (as would the addition of an Ensemble category) Are they a voting branch then (for the awards)?August 1, 2013 at 6:38 pm #107029
There are branches that have no categories already, so there are precedents. They will nominate only for best picture, just like the execs and atlarge members.August 1, 2013 at 6:43 pm #107030
I’m a casting director (print ads and commercial) and seldom, if ever, get the final say in who gets chosen. Whilst the idea of an award for casting has merit it makes little sense as the person getting the award will almost certainly not be the ione who made the decision of who was cast. Unfortunately I don’t really see how this could work at all.August 1, 2013 at 6:47 pm #107031
Really appreciate your insight into this BC – I thought that was the case, but great to have a professional confirm it. I suppose it’s possible they could nominate in acting categories, but that branch would have to approve the change – not sure how they’d think about it. The one group of people the Academy will not allow to become members is agents – this branch is going to really make them angry, particularly since a lot of agents in practical terms are involved in casting quite heavily, sometimes creatively.August 1, 2013 at 7:16 pm #107032
Yeah I was wondering if they’d be able nominate in acting, though I would personally prefer BP only. I mean, is there indication as to how big a branch this is/will be?August 2, 2013 at 11:58 am #107033
Giving the award to the casting director does not make total sense, but I like the idea of a casting award just to recognize a film with the best casting that I am okay with it. Next, I would like to see a combined category for stunt coordination and choreography. I would not mind if they went back to lumping the sound categories either. I know that they do different things, but so do hairstylists and makeup artists and they share a category.August 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm #107035
All of this can easily fit into the honorary awards grouping, where distinguished lifetime achievement can be awarded. Stunt coordination is another huge problem – do you credit the coordinator, the people doing the stunts, the director, the 2nd unit director? Absolutely no way to determine who actually was responsible in any sort of orderly way.August 7, 2019 at 2:31 pm #1203014715
BAFTA just added a casting category.
The academy just elected a casting director as president.
I am so ready for Best Casting finally to be an Oscar.August 7, 2019 at 2:39 pm #1203014736
All those posts from six years ago are kinda right on the money — this award is just simply not necessary. There are already four awards recognizing the on-screen talent; should we next deconstruct the cinematography category into six different categories?
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