A film cast, movie cast, or just cast is the general term used for the collective talent appearing in a film, television or theatre project etc. A cast may be comprised of actors, actresses, singers, dancers, musicians, models, or any number of talent used on screen.
To find a great cast, you must start with casting; the process in which the most suitable actors are found for particular roles. Casting is done by casting directors who have the tedious job of weeding out the talent that doesn't fit, and finding the one person out of hundreds, sometimes thousands of actors.
The casting begins with what is called a casting call, or audition. The talent arrives and performs for the casting director. It sounds fairly simple and essentially it is for the talent. You show up for the casting call, audition for the casting director and leave. The casting director may be there for hours looking at new people all day long, sometimes for days at a time. They are looking not only for talent, but specific looks and mannerisms as well.
Median hourly earnings of actors were $11.28 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $7.75 and $30.76. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $6.63, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $56.48. Median annual earnings were $15.20 in performing arts companies and $9.27 in motion picture and video industries. Annual earnings data for actors were not available because of the wide variation in the number of hours worked by actors and the short-term nature of many jobs, which may last for 1 day or 1 week; it is extremely rare for actors to have guaranteed employment that exceeded 3 to 6 months. Minimum salaries, hours of work, and other conditions of employment are covered in collective bargaining agreements between the producers and the unions representing workers. The Actors’ Equity Association (Equity) represents stage actors; the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) covers actors in motion pictures, including television, commercials, and films; and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) represent television and radio studio performers. Some actors who regularly work in several media find it advantageous to join multiple unions, while SAG and AFTRA may share jurisdiction for work in additional areas, such as the production of training or educational films not slated for broadcast, television commercial work, and interactive media. While these unions generally determine minimum salaries, any actor or director may negotiate for a salary higher than the minimum. Under terms of a joint SAG and AFTRA contract covering all unionized workers, motion picture and television actors with speaking parts earned a minimum daily rate of $716 or $2,483 for a 5-day week as of October 1, 2005. Actors also receive contributions to their health and pension plans and additional compensation for reruns and foreign telecasts of the productions in which they appear. According to Equity, the minimum weekly salary for actors in Broadway productions as of June 30, 2005 was $1,422. Actors in Off-Broadway theaters received minimums ranging from $493 to $857 a week as of October 23, 2005, depending on the seating capacity of the theater. Regional theaters that operate under an Equity agreement pay actors $531 to $800 per week. For touring productions, actors receive an additional $777 per week for living expenses ($819 per week in higher cost cities). New terms were negotiated under an “experimental touring program” provision for lower budget musicals that tour to smaller cities or that perform for fewer performances at each stop. In an effort to increase the number of paid workweeks while on tour, actors may be paid less than the full production rate for touring shows in exchange for higher per diems and profit participation. Some well-known actors—stars—earn well above the minimum; their salaries are many times the figures cited, creating the false impression that all actors are highly paid. For example, of the nearly 100,000 SAG members, only about 50 might be considered stars. The average income that SAG members earn from acting (less than $5,000 a year) is low because employment is sporadic. Therefore, most actors must supplement their incomes by holding jobs in other occupations. Many actors who work more than a qualifying number of days, or weeks per year or earn over a set minimum pay, are covered by a union health, welfare, and pension fund, which includes hospitalization insurance to which employers contribute. Under some employment conditions, Equity and AFTRA members receive paid vacations and sick leave. Median annual earnings of salaried producers and directors were $52,840 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $35,550 and $87,980. Median annual earnings were $75,200 in motion picture and video industries and $43,890 in radio and television broadcasting. Many stage directors belong to the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SSDC), and film and television directors belong to the Directors Guild of America. Earnings of stage directors vary greatly. According to the SSDC, summer theaters offer compensation, including “royalties” (based on the number of performances), usually ranging from $2,500 to $8,000 for a 3- to 4-week run. Directing a production at a dinner theater generally will pay less than directing one at a summer theater, but has more potential for generating income from royalties. Regional theaters may hire directors for longer periods, increasing compensation accordingly. The highest-paid directors work on Broadway and commonly earn $50,000 per show. However, they also receive payment in the form of royalties—a negotiated percentage of gross box office receipts—that can exceed their contract fee for long-running box office successes. Stage producers seldom get a set fee; instead, they get a percentage of a show’s earnings or ticket sales.
Don't be fooled into thinking that you can only become an actor if you look like Brad Pitt or Jessica Simpson. It all depends on what the film calls for as far as looks go, hair color, eye color, height, weight, and most importantly, personality. Since the casting director is seeing new faces all day long, reading the same lines over and over, it may be difficult to stand out. However, if you can make yourself come across in a way that the casting director remembers you, you will have increased your chances on that alone, regardless of looks or talent.
You will arrive on set and meet with the rest of your cast and crew. Other cast members have gone through the same casting process you have. Many celebrities still go on casting calls, (although it isn't always necessary) If Brad Pitt had wanted to play Batman, he would of had to audition for it. Producers and investors spend hundreds of millions of dollars, so they would want to see how Brad Pitt looks in the bat suit, or reading Batman's trademark lines. A character has to come alive, and a good actor will be able to bring that life out of a character. Brad Pitt has obviously had tremendous success in Hollywood, but that doesn't mean he would be great in every movie. Certain movies need certain types of people, characters, and personalities. This again is where personality exceeds talent. It is helpful to have talent, and good looks don't hurt either, but the personality has to fit the part.
In the performing arts, casting is a vital pre-production process for selecting a cast (a meaning of the word recorded since 1631) of actors, dancers, singers, models and other talent for a live or recorded performance.
It typically involves a series of auditions before a casting panel, composed of individuals such as the producer, director and/or choreographer. In the early stages of the process, candidate performers often may present prepared audition pieces such as monologues or songs. Later stages may involve groups of candidates attempting material from the work under consideration in various combinations; the casting panel considers both the talent of the individual actors and the chemistry of their combination.
Depending on the prestige of the role, casting calls may go out to the public at large (typical for community theatre), to professional and semi-professional local actors (for supporting roles in theatre and film) or to specifically selected actors (for leading roles, especially in films).
In the production of film and television, a similar process is followed. However, especially for major productions, the process of selecting candidates for sometimes hundreds of parts and possibly thousands of extras may often require specialized staff; while the last word remains with the people in artistic and production charge, a Casting director (and/or Casting Assistant, Casting Associate) may be in charge of most of the daily work involved in this recruiting process during pre-production; in addition the "CD" may also remain as liaison between director, actors and their agents once the parts have been cast. Some of them build an impressive career, e.g. working on numerous ambitious Hollywood productions, such as Mary Jo Slater and Rick Millikan. The significant organization of professional screen - and theater casting in the US is the Casting Society of America (CSA), but membership is optional.
At least in the early stages and for extras, casting may be decentralized geographically, often in conjunction with actual shooting planned in different states, e.g. in Hollywood or New York (studio) and one or more exotic locations (e.g. Hawaii, the Far East) and/or budget locations, e.g. Canada, Ireland. Another reason may be tapping in to each home market in the case of an international co-production. However for the top parts, the choice of one or more celebrities, whose presence is of enormous commercial importance, may rather follow strictly personal channels, e.g. direct contact with the director.