It's about freaking time: Casting Directors get BAFTA award category, making the British Academy
It's a crime that it hasn't happened sooner.
Just how vital is a good casting director to any project? So vital you simply can't measure it.
And it takes a special, very particular skillset to make a good CD:
1) encyclopedic knowledge and memory of the available casting pool -- which, in Los Angeles, amounts to hundreds of thousands of actors, with the landscape changing every day,
2) the ability to interpret an unrealized script in terms of what specific human qualities will bring it alive,
3) the advanced communication skills it takes to translate among the specialized vocabularies and priorities of producer, director, agent and actor,
4) a hardwired sixth sense for when an actor is right for a role, which can't be taught, but can be nurtured,
5) and most important, at least for those of us who sit sweating it out in the audition waiting room, the best casting directors have a deep love for actors, generated by their respect for the work we do -- they live for the thrill of truth in performance, unexpected spontaneity, a breakthrough of understanding between the actor and the words.
And all of these attributes are what both creative and monetary success depend upon.
As journalist Clarisse Loughrey wrote in an article in The Independent entitled "Seven New Categories the Academy Awards Should Add" in early 2019:
A good casting director can make or break a potential awards contender, not only choosing the right name to sparkle as the film’s lead, but ensuring that the wider ensemble has both a sense of chemistry and balance.
What’s particularly frustrating is that a specific branch for Casting Directors was created by the Academy back in 2013, which would suggest that the organization at least recognizes their work as an important and distinct part of the industry at large. Furthermore, casting directors remain the only crew members typically featured in the opening titles of a film that don’t have their own category at the Academy Awards.
This is an injustice that truly hasn't made any sense.
But things might be changing. It's a good sign that BAFTA has just added the category. Not soon enough, but progress, nevertheless. Let's hope the Academy will follow.