Working to become a casting assistant is a somewhat murky process, requiring skill and determination as well as a little luck. While there is no set path to become a casting assistant, there are several steps an aspiring film or theater professional can take to help find work in this nebulous industry. To help smooth the way to become a casting assistant, consider moving to a region where film, television, and theater are major industries, look for internships or entry-level jobs in production or casting, and try to make as many professional contacts as possible.
While there may be some casting opportunities in other areas, relocating to a major film or theater town can increase job availability, as well as opportunities for advancement. For those who wish to get involved casting for theatrical productions, consider moving to London or New York. Those interested in film and television casting may find the most opportunities in Los Angeles. Relocation can be a major personal step, but is often the first big move needed to become a casting assistant.
Many casting agents or directors get their start at the bottom of the production totem poll. Consider looking for jobs as a production assistant on films, or as an intern at a talent agency. Production jobs are usually short-term opportunities that may or may not be paid positions, but offer a chance to make professional contacts and learn more about how films are made. Internships are generally semester-long positions available to film and theater students, and may offer a small stipend rather than a full salary. Entry-level jobs at production companies or talent agencies usually offer a steady paycheck, but may be difficult to get without prior experience.
When choosing entry level jobs, it is important to be cautious about which opportunities to accept. While some beginning jobs can lead to the opportunity to become a casting assistant, others may not offer any real chance of advancement in the industry. During the interview, be certain to question the interviewer about the opportunities for advancement and a hypothetical timeline to become a casting assistant. A good employer will want to teach a new worker the ropes so that he or she can excel in the profession; be wary of any prospective employer who refuses to talk about advancement potential.
While working in the industry, be sure to take advantage of networking opportunities. Becoming friends with other film, theater, or television professionals can lead to future projects and early notification about upcoming job opportunities. To gain professional experience, offer to work as a casting director for free on friends' films and plays. Befriending actors can help a future casting assistant create a personal file of talented professionals to suggest for roles if the opportunity presents itself. While it can be difficult in a competitive profession, try to avoid making any enemies within the industry, and focus on crafting a strong personal and professional reputation.
After spending some time working in the industry, you can start applying for jobs as a casting assistant. If a good relationship has formed with any prior employers, be certain to contact them about potential job openings at their companies. Craft a strong resume that highlights training, education, and at least one reputable reference within the industry. While it may take a lot of trial and error to become a casting assistant, strong determination added to sufficient experience may be the best way to get a foot in the door.