“… like an octopus with each tentacle on a different project” : Contemporary Czech casting practice



Rok publikování 2021
Druh Další prezentace na konferencích
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Filozofická fakulta

Popis Casting agencies and professions of casting director and casting agent are opaque and unexplored field in the Czech audiovisual industry. Casting agencies began to be established in the Czech Republic at the end of the 1990s and at the turn of the millennium, until then the word casting did not know and did not use, and this practice was a direct, unseparated part of the film production process. The practice is very fragmented and very unclear to outside observers. Each casting agency has developed its own individual approaches during its running, and co-operation with productions as well as actors differs from the established Hollywood standard. Nevertheless, we can see that Czech casting is based on several fundamental common pillars – empathy, communication, instinct and intuition of casting directors and casting agency employees, trust, and harmony. Erin Hill described the profession of casting director as an all-female below-the-line profession that involved high-level management work and labeled it by the term “emotional labor”. This unique combination of attributes works, especially when casting children who are particularly sensitive to stressful situations and uncomfortable environments. Czech casting practice is also connected by several dichotomies: casting agencies try to be solitaires on the market, but cooperation and solidarity exist between them; seeks personal access to every actor that belongs to their database, while at the same time being under constant pressure from the lack of time to observe the new faces; and last but not least, Czech casting is struggling with precarization, which is manifested by an excess of orders and work tasks in contrast to the poor financial evaluation. It should be noted that due to the lack of academic research in this area, it is necessary to base it on interviews with specific casting agency owners and casting directors. Conceptually, I am based on Bruno Latour's Actor-Network-Theory, which allows me to show how the network of human and inhuman actors works in Czech film and television casting and their enrollment and agency, as well as their mutual influence on the form of this network.
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