Question and Answer for today:

Question for

I have a feature film project in the beginning stages. After about a year of trying to pitch the project to studios, I have decided the better route is to get a few well-known actors attached first. Should I hire a casting director? I find I cannot get in the door with the agents. 

Answer by Brandon Blake, Entertainment Lawyer:

Thanks for a great question about casting directors. I have represented more than 50 feature film and television series over the last 16 years and regularly consult on film development for clients so I have worked with a number of great casting directors. Find out more about me at

However, casting directors are not there to do what is usually called “packaging” a film or television project. Casting directors are set up to do exactly what the name implies, which is to run casting calls and cast a full film or television series with great actors and actresses that are ready to work… now!

One of the biggest mistakes that independent filmmakers often make is getting a casting director involved too soon. That is frustrating both for the producer and for the casting director. I have seen the situation where producers feel that the casting director can’t, or won’t do their job, while monthly fees are being frittered away. But in truth the mistake does not lay with the casting director. The real problem is that casting directors cannot cast a movie that is not fully funded.

It is very rare for a casting director to cast a project more than two months before the start date of principal photography. In fact, many producers are amazed at how many roles get cast the week before the start date, and as an entertainment attorney I have spent many long nights the day before principal starts, prepping contracts for actors that are going on location the very next day!

So producers should be aware upfront of the scheduling needs of casting directors and realize that there is simply no reason to contact casting directors too early about a project.

Generally, the way that a producer packages a project is with the help of an entertainment law firm like ours. By working with the producer to shape and develop the project, we can approach top cast for projects that are going forward, but need a few A-list names involved before studios and financiers will sign on the bottom line.

With so many projects vying for a limited number of “star” cast, it can be overwhelming, but with the right help projects can get that jump start needed to move forward and get into pre-production. Then once the start date for principal photography is set, a casting director can do the heavy lifting and fill out the cast needed to shoot the film.

Feel free to contact my office about packaging and development service rates. As with any entertainment matter, please do not make a decision about complex issues without consulting an experienced entertainment lawyer first. Feel free to contact my office at about a quote.

- By Brandon Blake, Entertainment Lawyer