I’m always on the lookout for helpful resources for filmmakers and actors. I love industry news, reviews, helpful articles, and discussion. Backstage Magazine has all that and more. I’m excited today to get to interview Melinda Loewenstein, the managing casting editor at Backstage. She’s worked on thousands of casting notices, connecting filmmakers and actors, and she’s offering a special limited time only opportunity just for Faith Flix readers.
What led to your interest in casting?
I’ve always been very interested in film and television. I participated in all the arts programs my community offered. I always loved writing. In grade school, when one of my first stories was published in the local paper, I knew I wanted to pursue writing. I studied scriptwriting and moved out to Los Angeles to learn how the business worked. From my internship at a talent management company I learned how to read breakdowns and identify which clients would be right for which role. I moved on to Baseline StudioSystems where I focused on researching and tracking television development. While I gained a lot more industry knowledge and learned who the players were, I really wanted to be writing. So when the opportunity to work at Backstage Magazine came up I thought it would be the ideal fit for me. The position combines all aspects of entertainment from the early stages of casting to writing about the exciting projects that are cast on Backstage.com. Through my years at Backstage, I have an even greater appreciation of all the work that goes into casting and what a pivotal element it is in the success of a project.
How does Backstage help filmmakers?
Backstage places an emphasis on education for both actors and filmmakers. Our editorial content consists largely of advice for actors and filmmakers and is supplemented with actor/writer/director profiles and news stories. Additionally, we have an entire section of the magazine and website dedicated to casting and we have a casting specialist who goes to speak with classes of filmmakers about the casting process to help new filmmakers understand the importance of casting and help guide them through what can seem like an overwhelming process. Most of the Backstage staff comes from an entertainment industry background, so we’re all quite familiar with what it takes to get a film made and how expensive it is. Backstage offers an affordable alternative for casting when a producer/director can’t afford to hire a casting director. We post casting notices for all types of projects (theater, film, television, digital, etc.) and all levels of talent (lead vs. extra, union vs. nonunion) so filmmakers can gain access to the talent that best fits their project. We also have a publication called Call Sheet which offers a ton of resources to filmmakers. We have a list of film festivals, production companies, agents, casting directors, and more. These listings can help filmmakers find the people and the companies they need to contact to make their film a success.
How does Backstage help actors?
As mentioned above we provide a great deal of educational editorial content to help actors. The casting side of the website is of particular interest to actors because it helps them to find great projects to audition for. We post both open calls and calls for submissions. As a national publication, actors living anywhere in the United States can find great opportunities in their area. Our casting editors vet all the projects posted on Backstage.com to ensure that they are legit and safe acting opportunities. In addition to the casting notices which provide work opportunities for actors, Call Sheet also provides a lot of resources for actors such as production charts so actors can be aware of what productions are gearing up and who is casting what. We provide a wide variety of casting notices so that no matter what type of acting or what level of acting an actor is looking for they’ll be able to find something. The site offers actors the opportunity to submit themselves to projects rather than relying on an agent or manager. However, represented actors do go through their agents to book the work.
What do you think is the greatest challenge for casting directors?
Casting directors frequently have to work in a very short amount of time. I think the job can be especially challenging for casting directors working on projects that are unable to pay actors or have very low pay rates. This is one of the advantages to Backstage because there are a lot of recent theater and film school grads using Backstage who are often willing to work on lower budget projects in order to build up their reels.
How important is it, do you think, that Christian roles be played by Christian actors?
I don’t think you need to be Christian to play a Christian role. But I think that an actor should always feel comfortable in any role he or she takes on. So having some understanding or respect for the religion or views in the film would be important in order for the actor to connect to the role and be believable in playing it. Trained actors do their research, so as long as an actor is willing to research whatever is necessary to play the role, I think that the most important thing is finding an actor who is right for the role.
What advice would you give to aspiring actors who want to be cast?
Read. I have talked to hundreds of casting directors who use Backstage and the advice I hear over and over again is that actors need to read the casting notice and follow the directions. While you don’t necessary have to fit the physical description perfectly, it is very important to follow the submission instructions. Filmmakers casting through Backstage have also expressed the importance of an actor wanting to be a part of their project and including a cover letter telling the filmmaker why the actor is a good fit or why they are interested in the project.
Backstage is always striving to find more quality projects for actors using Backstage to work on and we would love to help connect the actors using our website to the Christian filmmakers creating this content so we’re offering Christian filmmakers using this site free access to our casting tools for the next 90 days. To take advantage of the offer just visit www.backstage.com/findtalent and use the access code FAITHFLIXFREE.