MDC: Well Linda, you're one of the most vital casting forces in the business. How'd you get in in this line of work?
LG: I've always wanted to live in New York ever since I was a little girl. I'm from Maryland, near Washington. When I got out of graduate school, I got a job in a lovely little equity theatre in Pennsylvania, that had a director who had a friend who needed an assistant. So he said, move to NY, come stay with us. He was a pretty famous Broadway writer. So I became his assistant. I had about four other part time jobs, including one at Julliard, the acting company. Somebody knew an individual who needed a casting director. This lady had a casting position at a very large corporation, so I went there and worked very, very hard and eventually took that company out on my own. And built, built, built, year by year. The challenges of running a small business in New York City just to survive makes you feel good about yourself.
MDC: The fashion business in general is the business of unwritten rules. Girls and guys are "right" and "wrong" , "hot" and "cold" but the language as to why, is very coded. How do you get this across to a very no-nonsense businessman looking for a new face?
LG: We know how to translate that language because we are not those kinds of people. If we were we would be working in corporations. We're free spirits at heart who are creative and artistic with business smarts. Putting all that together and balancing staff. ...balancing the financials is a lovely challenge to a woman like me.
MDC: Staying on top of the arriving and departing models of the moment must be quite a task.
LG: We have to do a lot of homework. The way we're
compensated for what we do is we get hired to actually cast something
either by an ad agency or a production company or even a photographer
in some cases. We really have to be prepared to go in and make it clean
and fast and thorough so that we're not wasting their money. The modeling
agencies send us people. We keep them on file...keep them on a list....a
big list actually of up and coming faces who we feel might cross over
from what's editorial to what's more commercial and what's more viable
MDC: How heavy is the demand for completely fresh new faces..that proverbial future star that they're looking to launch?
LG: I think they're always looking for someone like that, not necessarily for a contract but they always want new people. Even if they don't have something specific to book them for this minute, they keep their own back pocket files of who to watch. It's a process that you do together with the art directors, the television producers, the creative directors. If a girl gets a major job, they're 99 people lined up behind her saying "I made her". It isn't any one person, it's a team working together.
MDC: And how do you as a casting director go about editing the endless options available?
LG: Our job is to show them within the creative and the business confines we're given ...the brief that we're given... the best number of people available for the job. That's why people think casting directors have a lot of power...because we are the first cut. It would be impossible for us to see everybody in the world who we thought deserved a shot, so we have to narrow it down. That's why they come to us. We have the taste, the business knowledge, we have the creative instincts to interpret what they want. To make the appointments, to call the agencies,..it's a process. To see new people, to see the people you believe in. We bring the kids up to audition. We put them on videotape. Out of say, 100 people, we then certainly have the opportunity to suggest the 5 or 10 who we feel is best. But we're careful. We don't do that till later. We don't want to cloud the client's vision. We are not going to bring in someone who we feel can't do the job. We add our comments on paper.
MDC: So you at first provide them with an objective range within the "type" they're looking for.
LG: Clients have specific ideas about what they want. But we have to think for them beyond that. Especially I imagine because casting is such an emotional enterprise. It's more than how a model looks. The energy they bring to the casting is that "X" factor.
That's where feedback from the client is essential. You have to know
what are their preferences, what their concerns are, what they think
the product is about
MDC: What would you say in terms of direction, in terms of the kind of girl everybody adores..what is the feeling for now?
LG: Oooh. ...That's a tough one. The industry went so far afield from what was classically beautiful. ...Things got so hip and downtown and funky...when the Eastern bloc opened up a few years ago, a flood of those type of girls came in. Technology has made it so much easier to share information from country to country. What used to be more local, isn't anymore. The flood of those kind of faces, really changed advertising. But now I'm starting to feel that people want to get back to something that's a little bit more mainstream.
MDC: At the same time , I'm also hearing, over and
over again , the phrase "ethnically ambiguous". I'm hearing
that a lot. The Jessica Albas... [ continued
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