Wake up and smell the latte. Opportunity knocks all over the world, and the common passport is talent.
We live in an era where casting directors can cast internationally from their own laptops and mobile devices and conversely, actors from across the world can audition remotely. The search for the next big star is eternal, and as such, the networks, filmmakers, and tastemakers will always be open to great talent no matter where they live.
Recently I cast the film Ginger and Rosa, directed by Sally Potter. The film has screened at film festivals around the world and has also gotten some Oscar buzz. Ginger and Rosa stars Elle Fanning and Alice Englert as two girls in 1960s London. Elle is American of course, and Alice is from Australia. My colleague in London, Irene Lamb, did a massive open call in the UK, including one on Facebook. We searched and searched, but ultimately as Potter says, “Talent has no passport” and she needed to cast the very best actors she could find to fill these two roles. Elle auditioned with me here in Los Angeles, and Alice self-taped in Australia. There was magic in these two girls connection to the roles from the get-go, and after months of more searching, call backs, and deliberating, Sally went to bat for them with her UK funders and convinced them to allow her to cast these wonderful actors. Even though the production had to run through some Visa hoops, and the girls needed accent coaching, they were the right young women to fill these roles and the proof is in their performances on screen.
Hollywood feeds on the next big thing, and production is a worldwide business. But the obstacle remains: How does the talent find out what is happening? And, how do the casting directors find that next star if they live abroad?
Here is my short-term band-aid solution until we develop an open international world wide web casting space where actors and casting directors can meet.
1. Actors need to track who is casting what projects.They can do this by looking online, with sites like Backstage, or using my smartphone app, Actor Genie. Actors must also follow casting directors who have twitter handles. Many do and searching here is a great way to start.
2. Casting directors need to be on the lookout. They need to seek out foreign films, and even Google lists television and movie star lists by country. They need to look at agency sites in different countries. For example, in the UK, France, and Germany, some of the very best talent agencies have very evolved sites with portfolios of their clients work.
American talent agents have looked to the UK, Australia, and Canada for their next rising star, and looking at the list of leading men and women in Hollywood, we find a top ten list of actors who hail from all over the world.
Heidi Levitt has cast such successful films as “The Artist,” “JFK,” “Nixon,” “Natural Born Killers,” “Nurse Betty,” “The Rock,” “The Joy Luck Club,” “Smoke,” and “Lakeview Terrace.” She served as a producer on the feature films such as, “Center of the World,” “Coastlines,” and “Delivering Milo.” In 2009 Heidi executive produced and cast, “The High Cost of Living,” directed by Deborah Chow, which won best first feature at TIFF and was released by Tribeca Films and in 2010 she exec produced and cast Magnolia Pictures release, "I Melt With You," directed by Mark Pellington. Heidi cast and executive produced “Ginger and Rosa,” directed by Sally Potter. The film will be released by A24 this December.
Currently she is casting several indie features including the ambitious biopic "Chavez," directed by Diego Luna and Cynthia Mort’s “Nina,” a biopic about Nina Simone.
Heidi is the creator of Actor Genie, an iPhone App featured by Apple on iTunes as a top app. The app is an actor must have. It tells what's casting and who's who and has loads of inspiring quotes from well know actors, directors, writers and offers tips on the best acting coaches and much more.