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Casting at Catalyst

My name is Cathy Reinking. I’m a veteran casting director, who is also a content creator and writer, and had the great fortune to participate in the 2019 Catalyst Content Festival. I led two workshops, participated in a panel, sold my current book How to Book Acting Jobs 3.0: Through the Eyes of a Casting Director - Across All Platforms to both actors and filmmakers, attended a myriad of screenings and other panels besides mine, and partook in the various social gatherings and parties. In other words, I participated in all that Catalyst had to offer and in doing so, I made a lot of new friends and colleagues in addition to simply getting inspired by all the stories I either watched on a screen or heard in the workshops. So many stories, and that’s what filmmaking is all about to me. In fact, stories are what keep me going in this world that is increasingly polarized. Stories bring us together in an organic way.

I’ve been to a lot of festivals over the years, both as a filmmaker and as a special guest, and I can honestly say Catalyst is the best one I’ve attended, by far. The depth and breadth of the content is astounding. The curation of the festival is a wonder. The social events are well attended and made to feel special. The conversations I had with the filmmakers I met were real conversations, not surface “networking.”

The workshops I lead where “How To Book Acting Jobs for TV and Film” geared toward actors and “The Casting Process for Content Creators” geared toward filmmakers. I was most excited about the one for filmmakers because I’ve been noticing a trend in ultra low budget films in regards to the acting. It’s usually not great and overall it feels to me the standards for acting have gone down substantially. Most projects with low budgets want to “save” money by doing the casting themselves, not fully understanding how incredibly complex the casting process is. To do it well, casting is a full time job on any film of any length, and why it’s not as important as a DP, editor, or AD is beyond my understanding.

I began the workshop by distributing a two page hand out entitled “Duties of a Casting Director”, which shocked everyone. It’s a very long list, with steps no filmmaker even thinks about (acquiring, setting up and dismantling the casting space, for instance). The workshop then went on to talk about critical subjects such as what is good acting, how do you find the best actors, why is having an open call the worst thing you can do, and no actor can do well with a cold reading so give them the material ahead of time by at least 2 days. We covered a lot of other issues including why not just hire a casting director. Casting directors can definitely do the casting process the most efficiently while improving the level of acting in any film exponentially. Plus, all a filmmaker has to do is either show up at the in person auditions or watch a selection of self-tapes that the casting director has curated for them. That’s it. No more scrambling endless hours trying to find hidden gems. That is a gift of time for filmmakers I’d say. And so I did say. Lively discussion ensued.

Out of the many teams of filmmakers who attended this workshop, all of which I made the effort to see all of their screenings which were across the board very strong, one team in particular - Tony Ahedo and Nicole Fernandez - reached out to me a few weeks later to hire me for their ULB feature film. Although my primary purpose of the workshop was not to garner offers of work directly, it was a nice surprise and I accepted. That film - Icon - is currently in the final days of shooting. Tony, the director/writer, and I worked very well together, he was pleased with the outcome, and I can’t wait to see the finished film. It’s a very strong script and Tony is an experienced filmmaker with a great sensitivity toward actors.

This kind of sharing and collaboration is what Catalyst is all about. It’s really what any film festival is all about. It is just that Catalyst does it better than any other organization/festival I’ve experienced in the 25+ years I’ve been in the Industry.

CATHY REINKING has been working as a Casting Director since the early '90s, working on Frasier, Arrested Development, According to Jim, and many other shows and pilots on NBC, CBS, ABC, The CW, Fox. She also served as NBC's Manager of Casting, overseeing many pilots including "The Office," and holds a degree in theatre arts from UCLA, where she graduated magna cum laude. Recent credits include Insatiable, Killerman, New Amsterdam, Abby’s, Manifest, and The Village.

Cathy is also an award-winning content creator and urges actors to do the same. Projects she has written and produced DIY are The British Invasion (a Korean-American actors pretends to be British in order to get work), The Real Man (a black actor vows to only play uplifting roles), All or Nothing (two disenfranchised gamblers in their 50s find unexpected love at the black jack table), and a brand new play Hardball (two ex-athletes of different backgrounds find unexpected commonalities) recently produced in Atlanta.

The 3rd edition of her book, “How To Book Acting Jobs 3.0 - Through the Eyes of a Casting Director - All Platforms” is available on Amazon

Cathy has lead workshops all around the world, including a recent stint in Australia. Her passion is helping actors create their own content as well as helping filmmakers cast better. Without great acting, a project can suffer.


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