Today, almost all casting begins with an on-line audition. More on that process here. That means that actors have come to bear the weight of hiring a coach, producing a professional quality audition tape at home, paying for a reader (or in our case, Mom does it), and submitting it in the timetable created by the casting director. It has made casting more accessible to those in smaller markets, but has it really? Are those tapes from North Dakota getting watched?  We have effectively become their employee, as we seek employment! SAG-AFTRA, celebrity actors and the CSA have all reacted to articles in Deadline Hollywood here, each article with hundreds of comments:

Casting Directors Sound Off on Self-Tape Controversy “We Shouldn’t Be Taking Money from Actors” by Nellie Andreeva for Deadline Hollywood
SAG-AFTRA Scolds Casting Offices for Charging for Audition Tapes “It is An Optical and Ethical Disaster” by Lynette Rice, Dave Robb for Deadline Hollywood

And then there is the union reaction to the use of AI:

Hollywood’s AI Anxiety is Showing by J. Clara Chan for Hollywood Reporter

But what would happen if we totally relied on technology for casting? What would happen if we eliminated casting directors?

Graphic of AI logo, an hand and a button that says YES. Other text says "Can Artificial Intelligence Cast Your Next Movie?"


It would seem that casting directors are on their way to becoming irrelevant. Horrific as this sounds, hear us out.

Already many producers are casting their main roles directly. Stars often are cast in preproduction, partly to ensure investor funding of the film. For the smaller roles, software like Breakdown Services and CNI, publish notices and organize the submissions so they can be sent on to producers and directors for decisions (CDs do not choose who gets cast and never have). Agents choose which of their clients to submit to those notices, or they package the deal from the beginning, since bigger agencies like WME of CAA are often producers. Business affairs lawyers negotiate the contracts. Actors now bear the cost burden of coaching, professionally taping auditions and submitting them. It is not uncommon for an actor or producer to NEVER meet the CD in person. Human interaction and creativity are lost.
As a producer, why would I pay $10K a week to a CD, when I could ask actors to submit and have my own assistant call to check their availability? That’s a very sad day.
If Casting Directors were wise, they would insist on the face-to-face interaction so they could sell their expertise and creativity; so they could remain a real part of the creative process.
We are inches away from CNI and Breakdown Services using AI to compose the lists and sort the auditions. It is a relatively easy overlay on to their existing software. Don’t believe it? This morning (March 5, 2023) we queried ChatGPT, a part of Open AIHere is what we asked: “What actors should I cast for the next episode of Yellowstone TV series? Keeping in mind the current cast, I need to hire actors for 5 new roles: 10 year old boy who is a bully, 8 year old girl who is related to Helen Mirren, 3 adult men, 30-37 years old, who ride horses and are good looking, 1 female 28 year old with a sassy demeanor. “
This is what Chat GPT said:
“Here are some suggestions for actors who could potentially fit the roles:
10 year old boy who is a bully:
Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder)
Julian Dennison (Deadpool 2, Godzilla vs. Kong)
Jack Dylan Grazer (It, Shazam!)
8 year old girl who is related to Helen Mirren:
Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things, Enola Holmes)
Mackenzie Foy (Interstellar, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms)
Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project, Home Before Dark)
3 adult men, 30-37 years old, who ride horses and are good looking:
Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name, The Social Network)
Richard Madden (Game of Thrones, Bodyguard)
Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim)
1 female 28 year old with a sassy demeanor:
Zoey Deutch (Set It Up, The Politician)
Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why, Knives Out)
Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell)
Note: Please keep in mind that casting is a complex process and requires many factors to be taken into account, such as availability, chemistry with other actors, and suitability for the role. These suggestions are merely based on their previous work and could be subject to change based on various factors.”
OK, so it isn’t perfect. Helloooo, Millie Bobby Brown is not 8 years old. But it already knows how to make choices. With enough queries like this, with all the actors profiles accessed (which already exists at Breakdown Services and CNI), AI would LEARN to give a much better answer. AI can learn to sort appropriately, which is the essence of what casting directors do now. Casting Networks, unlike Breakdown Services, was founded by tech guys. They are not actors or film makers. How long until they put an AI overlay on their site?
And that is how art gets lost. It is how art as the reflection of humanity gets lost. Casting Directors, SAG-AFTRA, actors and producers: let’s not let that happen.