Inside the world of casting
Kate Plantin has been in the world of casting for 35 years, and has worked with a range of actors, producers and directors, on films such as Outpost: Black Sun and Gone Too Far. She has just completed the UK casting on the film ‘Une Rencontre’ starring Sophie Marceau, and is currently casting the play ‘Kindertransport’ that will be touring later this year and early next year.
Speaking to The Knowledge, Kate gives us an insight into some of her career highlights including casting a certain young actor called Chris Pine…
How and why did you become a casting director?
I grew up in a theatrical family - my father Derek Benfield was an actor and playwright and my mother Susan was an actress.
My working career began 35 years ago at the BBC where one of my jobs was working for Robin Scott, who at the time was the deputy managing director of television. I helped oversee contracts for many artists such as The Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise, which gave me a great understanding of that side of the business.
After having my two sons Daniel and Alexander, I had the opportunity to use my experience and knowledge to create the Casting Directors Ltd with my good friends Gillian Hawser and Caroline Hutchings.
Initially we worked at the Thorndike Theatre in Leatherhead on numerous productions before spreading our wings and moving into the film world. Some years later I created Kate Plantin Casting and that is where I am still delighted to find myself.
What are the main challenges of your role?
With so many talented actors and actresses out there I just want to be able to find roles for everyone!
Sadly with the current financial climate there are fewer opportunities available, but those actors who do make it often go onto even greater things. A fine example of this is Hollywood A-lister Chris Pine. Back in 2007 I cast him in the low budget film Blind Dating and now he is playing Captain Kirk in the blockbuster Star Trek Into Darkness.
What’s the most challenging production you’ve ever worked on?
I don’t want to sound like an evasive MP but I really wouldn't want to upset anyone by naming a production!
I will say however that there have been a few low budget projects that I have worked on that have been challenging due to the small amount of money available in the cast budget. However, I often find overcoming these challenges the most satisfying part of my work.
What’s the most enjoyable job you’ve worked on?
I have been fortunate enough to work on some truly wonderful productions over the years in film, television and theatre.
One of the many that I loved working on was Judge John Deed, created and produced by GF Newman. It was a joy to be able to use some actors who had had no previous television experience, as Gordon [Newman] was willing to take a chance on new talent.
How is your job changing?
Technology has certainly had the greatest impact on the way that I now go about my job.
Advances such as video conferencing, online directories, websites, Twitter and Facebook can be quite challenging for those of us who started on a manual typewriter.
What key skills do you need to become a casting director?
I believe that at your foundation you must possess a genuine passion for the arts and be prepared to get out there and meet talent all the time.
You need to be a great organiser with excellent communication skills and the ability to recognise new talent. A good memory is certainly the most important attribute.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to become a casting director?
Ask yourself why you want to be a casting director? If it’s for the perceived glitz and glamour or an easy buck then this is certainly not the career for you. If however you have a genuine interest in theatre, film and television then follow your dream.
Working as an assistant to a casting director would be a very good way of getting your foot in the door.
If you could meet a version of yourself right at the start of your career, what’s the one piece of advice you would give yourself?
Take the calculated risks and be brave in your decision making. If you do your best it will all work out.
The Knowledge would like to thank Kate for her insight and industry expertise. To find out more about her work, please visit her profile on The Knowledge.