When it comes to fulfilling the title of “Casting Director,” there’s not much Erica Arvold, of arvold.casting, leaves unchecked. From constantly working on the next big feature or television show shooting on the East Coast, to writing a blog for the education division of Arvold Casting, to even maintaining an active and informational Twitter account (more on social media to come, stay tuned for a TTK post!), Erica Arvold is a supreme example of a hands-on, hard-working, and dedicated Casting Director.
Her perspective on the current market, how she got into the business, and what she does when she’s not a casting director are just a few of the things Erica passed along for ‘5 Questions.’
A special thanks to Erica for sharing her thoughts. Enjoy!
1) How did you get into this business and what attracted you to it?
By accident. My senior year at DePaul University’s Theatre School (formerly the Goodman School of Drama) I was restless and wanted to enter the real world so thanks to the Dean, I began a full internship with Jane Alderman Casting. I knew within the first hour of working that casting was what I had been longing for and that the many lists of actors I had made as a child actually had a purpose. Casting combined my love of actors with my love of art (casting actors is very much like painting) and my passion for business and entrepreneurship. It was the first time in my life I felt like I really belonged somewhere. And I never stopped…I can’t imagine life without casting.
2) You made the move from LA Casting to Charlottesville, VA where you created arvold.casting. Can you describe some of the differences in working in both markets?
In Los Angeles I was lucky enough to work on many different sized film and television projects including some major studio pictures. Making lists of name actors, navigating the nuances of offers and negotiating deals was a huge part of my job. I read a zillion actors from LA as well as all over the country and I was able to witness many careers take off, which was (and still is) immensely gratifying. Casting in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast is somewhat similar to the LA experience, especially when I am hired to cast the entirety of an independent film (it’s really no different). Collaborating with the director, producer and writer is my personal comfort zone and that can happen in both television and film regardless of where I am based. I am also often hired to serve as ‘location casting director’ for film and television, now that I’m in Virginia. In these cases, I condense and streamline our casting efforts to a specific region. Depending on the project’s needs, our region can be defined as local to Richmond, VA only (very seldom the case), the Mid-Atlantic & and sometimes the entire East Coast (including NY – occasionally the case). A majority of the time when my company is hired as ‘location casting’, our main responsibility is to cast the day player or co-star roles. But, as regional actors become more and more seasoned (and as the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast markets continue to attract production), I find that actors here are sometimes considered for larger roles. Being based in the Mid-Atlantic for nearly a decade now, I’ve had the honor of witnessing actors grow at an extremely rapid rate, both in their craftsmanship and in their professionalism. I have had the pleasure of casting local and regional performers in their first tv/film roles, and have even cast actors in career-changing projects.
Being based in the Mid- Atlantic for nearly a decade now, I’ve had the honor of witnessing actors grow at an extremely rapid rate, both in their craftsmanship and in their professionalism.
3) arvold. is involved in much more than simply the business of casting. Can you tell us more about it?
We have three stand-alone departments (production, casting & education) that together support our overall mission to help ‘raise the bar’ in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast markets. I like to think of our three departments as the three legs of a tripod. 1. We produce. We are a start-to- finish production company for original content. We also provide consulting and production services to many independent film and commercial projects. I consult a bunch and our line producer stays on her toes. Credits include indie films Josephine, Coming Through the Rye, Wish You Well, Elemental and others, as well as several commercials and multimedia projects. 2. We cast. We helm & oversee the casting process for independent films and often serve as location casting directors on television series and larger studio films. We conduct quite a few searches throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions, and we cast many commercials and multi-media projects. Credits include Loving, TURN: Washington’s Spies, House of Cards, A Wrinkle in Time (lead role search), Stranger Things (series regular search) and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, among others. 3. We educate. As the daughter of a professor, I believe we are and will always best students of one another. Our education department is committed to providing master classes for actors (no workshops here, only deep intensive work), panel discussions and events for all film artists. By sharing our knowledge with one another we collectively contribute to the growth of our industry. arvold.education collaborates with several schools and universities on the East Coast and holds master classes in Charlottesville, VA and Atlanta, GA.
4). Where do you see the TV/Film business in Virginia going over the next decade?
I hear that there are more films and television shows coming to Virginia. A couple of series have based here successfully over the past few years (namely AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies), and the state is a proven and viable destination for more. Virginia is attractive to historical projects (such as the aforementioned series and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln), is a magnet for independent film (some are contemporary too), and is encouraging to area filmmakers who create their own content. I have helped produce a few indie projects (Josephine, Coming Through the Rye, Wish You Well, Texas Rein, Faux Paws, Elemental among others) and the support from the VFO towards each production has been simply incredible. Word must be spreading as the number of project inquiries my office receives has increased. I think the next decade will present a really nice balance between studio films, network series and independent films.
5). What is your favorite pastime or activity when you are not hard at work with arvold.?
Being with my family. Whether on a road trip or camping (being in nature and not having cell service) or cooking a big meal and playing games…this is how I recharge. Also, witnessing my son grow up is one of my favorite things. Oh, and I row.
I feel it is the actor’s job to bring something to the table, which includes their own interpretation of the character and the scene.
* What is your biggest pet peeve?
When actors ask what I’m looking for. I feel it is the actor’s job to bring something to the table, which includes their own interpretation of the character and the scene. I hope that the actor’s own artistic instinct takes over when they begin to read the sides and that’s what I want to see first. Then we can play and discuss…because we’ve established a baseline.
* What piece of advice would you give to actors?
Train. Seriously train. The competition especially in the MidAtlantic and Southeast is getting tougher and tougher as casting from all areas of the US and the world is at our fingertips. I actually think this healthy competition is wonderful because it raises the bar for everyone (filmmakers, crew members and actors alike). So, take your craft seriously, practice it daily, grow and be the best that you are able to be.
Check out Arvold Casting’s YouTube channel here.
Image: Courtesy of Erica Arvold/Twitter