We had the opportunity recently to sit down with Edward Rea – one of Vancouver’s top Casting Directors. We had questions about our enigmatic “neighbor to the north” – specifically in regard to film production. He was generous enough to share his thoughts.
What would you say is the reason that Vancouver has become such a hub of production?
Over the years Vancouver has been home to many great productions and because of it we have welcomed and created a sustainable infrastructure for any type of production. We serve as mostly a service industry for LA and the US. We are relatively close distance-wise and also in the same time zone, which helps. Vancouver itself can double for anywhere and if it can’t, we have award-winning crews that realign the planets until our clients get what they want. The plain and simple of it is also our dollar value and our tax credits. When you are making a small film or even a mega blockbuster, you can put all that money back into production which is a no-brainer.
In your experience, should a nomadic actor expect something different at a Vancouver audition over say an LA or NY audition?
Ha! Depends what you are auditioning for. I would suspect it is the same anywhere. There will inevitably be a sign in area, waiting area with other actors trying to get focused from their real life into this moment – And some have a process to get into “the zone.” There is always the door opening and your name called. The anticipation of who is in the room, what you are going to do in the heat of the moment and how that performance will get you the job or considered for another one.
We all have our own process to get what we want for our client. I ask talent what info they have on the show, see if they have questions. I like to see them do their spin on it first and then if they have taken the time to present me with something layered and unique, I tend to give them another few takes of the scene and we work it out.
Why did you choose Vancouver for your own career?
At the time Vancouver was turning into quite the hub for film and a hot spot for young people to migrate west in Canada. Not only is it less severe weather wise (coming from Ontario/Ottawa area is not for the faint at heart) I got accepted into reputable universities and colleges in Toronto and BC but the time commitment and cost at the time seemed like the wrong choice. I enrolled with Vancouver Film School for their intensive film foundation – crammed all that I would have learned in 4 years at the other places into 1 year at a fraction of the price. Because of the volume of work in Vancouver at the time, I was fortunate to be able to find a placement with a slew of great mentors who have taught me almost every aspect of the film “biz.” Timing was right and I was able to learn the best way I can, by doing.
What about your casting process makes you different from other Casting Directors?
That is a very hard question. We all have our own process to get what we want for our client. I ask talent what info they have on the show, see if they have questions. I like to see them do their spin on it first and then if they have taken the time to present me with something layered and unique, I tend to give them another few takes of the scene and we work it out. I try my best to really assess everyone that comes in my room and try to draw a connection to the role and the actors own personal experience. There is a very light psychology about it I suppose but it is the actors gift to emulate layers and personal knowledge about a character and the circumstances.
Assume I’m just out of university – what’s the single most important thing to impart to new talent?
Oh my! Well at the end of the day it is just advice right? Persevere. Be flexible. Progressive and be thick-skinned. You may be a Goddess, an Adonis, a hulk or an alluring character actor. There is room for all of you as this medium tells stories of all our journeys – and even those otherworldly! If you are on the younger side when you graduate, that’s good in a lot of ways. You are fresh and excited and ready to take on the world. Only there are many of you in the 20-mid 30 demographic. If you can stay in the game and slowly build credits and be patient then your competition slowly drops off for a slew of practical and life reasons or just change of direction.
In terms of a casting session, what do you never want to see again?
Never say never as someone may come in and do that thing I dislike so much and open my eyes to it in a different light (hopefully a good one)
As with any job there is myriad of pet peeves;
People coming in unprepared – wasted my time, the client’s time and another great actor who lost their opportunity in the room.
Non focused & not present
Most casting directors accept tape. If you have 5 or more places to be or auditions to go to, use your time wisely so that you are seen in the best light – excuses or not, expose the best of you in this interview.
What is the one thing about casting directors that you don’t think most actors know?
It is a job interview. Not only do you need to know the lines but I am interviewing you to put forward to a client that will employ you. I am resistant to do so with people who have a bad attitude and are bad listeners. Why would I stick you on set with my client for 12 hours if you are going to be a liability to production for any negligence.
We really do want you to do well. Most of us will ensure you are in a peaceful comfortable space in order to get the performance you need. If you look good, I look good for my client and I get return business.