Master Caster – Nancy Bishop

By Aliya Abreu

“Casting is a laborious process, often restricted by time,” Nancy Bishop told a packed audience at her masterclass on ‘Casting for Directors and Producers’ at IFFI 2015. The casting director of ‘Mission Impossible : Ghost Protocol’ (2011) and ‘Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian’ (2008) said, “at times, directors and producers can be really one-track minded about the actors they want for a particular film. But every actor is replaceable and it’s pointless waiting for years until a certain actor is free. A good casting director will fight a little for the actor she believes in.”
Through short video clips, Bishop demonstrated various aspects of casting in films, like casting people of different races, ages, people with disabilities, and random people from the streets who have no acting experience, but could play a role well.
Back in the 1980s. when Bishop was still based in the USA, (she now works from Prague in the Czech Republic), she helped create two theatre companies in Chicago: Strawdog Theatre Company, and Theatre Oobleck. Speaking exclusively to The Peacock, Bishop said she is really proud to have been involved with Theater Oobleck in their early days, because of the interesting work they continue to produce. “They do not have a director, and are a really alternative theatre company,” she beams proudly.
Back then, Bishop, who was nominated for an Emmy Award for her work in ‘Anne Frank: The Whole Story’ that aired on ABC in 2001, never dreamt that she would someday be a casting director. She trained as an actor and stumbled into the casting career by chance. She also enjoys teaching acting because it is an opportunity for her to help actors. “The casting process is often very quick and the casting team comes across as rude to actors since we’re often in a hurry.”
In time, Bishop took a liking to casting. “I learn so much from all the different projects I cast for,” she says. Of the actors she has discovered, Bishop is proud of Robbie Kay who is twenty years old now, but was just a little kid when she cast him. Kay has gone on to star in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ ( 2011) among other films and TV series. “I think he’s going to enjoy a long career as an actor,” she predicts.
Later, Bishop signed copies of her ‘Auditioning for Film and TV’ at IFFI’s pop-up bookstore ‘The Prints and The Paper’, a book she wrote to answer questions about casting.
On IFFI 2015, Bishop says, “Experiencing the culture here in Goa, has been very exciting. I’m wearing a saree for the first time today! I liked the selection of films at the festival. The only setback has been the lack of opportunity to network with other people from the industry.”

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