Web Series ‘The Casting Room’ Pioneers New Medium To Help Actors Land Jobs
January 3rd, 2013 · 8 Comments
The Casting Room is a hilarious and addictive weekly web episodic that explores what goes on behind closed doors in a casting room. Two-time Emmy nominated casting director and “TCR” creator Stephanie Gorin has been casting theatre, film and TV for twenty years. She’s seen it all and seems to know everybody in the biz. Now in its third season, “The Casting Room,” which reveals actor gaffes, is being syndicated in Norway, and developed by H-wood network execs for the small screen. Netting such comedic heavy hitters as Colin Mochrie of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” teen fave Devon Bostick from “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” and Scott Thompson and Dan Redican from “The Kids in the Hall,” “The Casting Room” is becoming the latest web hit. This week, catch Sheila McCarthy from “Little Mosque on the Prairie” showing what NOT to do when trying to win an acting job. Hint: don’t waste time showing cat videos on YouTube. In a Hollywood Today exclusive, we chat with prolific casting director Gorin. Delving into her award winning series, co-starring Naomi Snieckus, we get her advice on how to break into acting and the most common mistakes made by even veteran actors. Gorin was thrust into casting as an actor some twenty years ago. Helping a small production company that is now the landmark Mirvish Productions, Gorin was asked to assist casting on one of the biggest stage shows created in Toronto, “Les Miserables.” You know, the one adapted for the Oscar buzzing film of the same name, for which otherwise cutie Anne Hathaway can’t stop talking about herself. After her first taste, Gorin was hooked. Having cast the kids for “Les Mis,” Gorin changed companies and braced herself for an equally gripping show, “Phantom of the Opera.” She says, “After I had a child, I became the Canadian casting person for “Miss Saigon” and “Mamma Mia.” Three of the leads that I cast in “Mamma Mia”: Louise Pitre, Tina Maddigan and David W. Keeley went onto Broadway. I loved it and carried on casting from there!” quoth Gorin. Her passion project is weekly web series “The Casting Room.” It’s both fun and informative, and an actor must-see. Capitalizing on the wealth of knowledge she’s acquired as a top casting director for Showtime – she cast two seasons of the scandalously sexy Jonathan Rhys Meyers vehicle “The Tudors” – Stephanie netted Canada’s Gracie Allen, bespectacled blonde Naomi Snieckus. The witty star of “Mr. D” and “George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight,” in “TCR,” Snieckus plays her absent-minded, always-late associate. Providing a Chrissy Snow to Gorin’s Janet Wood. Gorin tells Hollywood Today, “I got to know Naomi through casting and I loved her. We always had a laugh together. Naomi and I write the episodes.” Second City trained “Seed” star Matt Baram “directs [the episodes] and we bounce ideas around about the script.” Winning Best Web Series at the Canadian Comedy Awards has afforded the team opportunities to meet with networks like Bravo about developing their unique format for the small screen. But Gorin admits, “The Casting Room,” is first a labor of love. Filmed in her casting facility, a rigorous schedule has the team shooting eight episodes a day, with one hour dedicated to each episode. “My goal is to have people watch it and enjoy it. We wanted to give back to the community.” Still, Gorin admits, “It’s a good teaching tool and entertaining. Some of the networks are looking at putting on web series or shorts.” She goes on, “We have a Norwegian company who has offered to buy our scripts and concept and plan to make their own Norwegian online version. I have had two network meetings and have been approached by a producer who would like to develop the show but we may like to keep it as short segments/interstitials.” While fielding offers, Gorin, Snieckus and Baram get to work (and laugh) with some of the cleverest cats in comedy. Now in its third season, “TCR” brags a long list of funny men and women who co-star each week. Suresh John of “Mr. D” and “Wingin’ It” makes an appearance, along with The Frantics’ Dan Redican (“Puppets Who Kill,” “Just for Laughs,” “Kids in the Hall”) who trains commercial actors on do’s and don’ts of the audition process. Right on the pulse of the “Glee” club, also addressed this season? Musicals. While in season one you’re witnessing the finalizing of the product (it’s not as beautifully lit as the next two seasons) you’ll see Eric Peterson talking costumes and props, Marty Adams coming in really sick. Season two boasts “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” star Mochrie’s better half, Debra McGrath flexing her satirical prowess. Also worth watching is The Listener’s Ennis Esmer, and my current crush, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid’s” Devon Bostick, who auditions while hungover. With over 60,000 views on Devon’s episode, I guess I’m not alone in my infatuation. After shooting 28 episodes, all based in reality, I couldn’t help but wonder who the worst offenders were in the casting room? Gorin laughs. “Let me think! I get some really great actors in my rooms, but I would say the biggest mistake is not being prepared. If they’re prepared, you can direct them and play with them more. Or, not dressing for the role. Or they costume up for the role. It’s not about costumes, it’s about connecting to the material. It’s a fine line for “TCR.” You want to show [these mistakes] in a humorous way. Like the guy who was reading his lines off a cell phone.” Aw, yes. Another hottie. “Newsroom” and “General Hospital’s” Peter Keleghan. Splitting her time between Canada and Los Angeles, Gorin’s workload is heavy. She’s starting up on the new season of Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana’s turn-of-the-century NYC drama “Copper” on BBC and season four of “The Listener.” Just finishing Jason Priestley-led HBO Canada/Direct TV romp “Call Me Fitz,” she’s currently working on the American and Canadian tour of “Les Miserables” stage show. While she admits that most of the actors she sees are versed in both the classics as well as contemporary fare, I am troubled to learn Gorin’s never watched “Sons of Anarchy.” For Charlie Hunnam alone. I convince her that “SOA,” which is essentially Hamlet set in a motorcycle club in Oakland, is the best show on TV, and make her promise to watch it. Before we close, I keep my word to an actor friend, passing along a common but tricky question: “What is the best way to get in the room, if you have an agent that does not send you out enough?” Every actor’s best friend; Gorin generously advises Marissa, “I would suggest to take a camera, pick a short scene that can show you off, and drop it off with a little card that says ‘I like the shows you cast’ and throw a package of coffee or a tea bag just to be noticed a little bit. Enclose a small photo and short letter and say you’d love to get in the room and be seen by them. Say, ‘please keep me in mind for the future.’ It’s worth trying. Do student films and keep your chops up. You get better by working. And it will look good on a resume.” Speaking of her desire to help actors fulfill their dreams, Gorin says of “The Casting Room,” “We didn’t make it to get rich, trust me! We did it out of love.” Watch all episodes of The Casting Room and don’t forget to subscribe to their YouTube Channel and spread the love! For more tips from Gorin’s camp, check out their docu-style vids “Inside The Casting Room,” where actors like Bostick and Emmy winner Brittany Allen from “All My Children” talk about the process of auditioning.