Hi my name’s Ryan Goodman and I do a lot of the camera work at Mark Summers
Casting was new to me when I arrived at Mark Summers Casting and it is fair to say that I did not understand it. Actually it is probably more accurate to say that I was naive about what casting entailed, there is a gulf between picking someone to be part of a production and casting someone that is right for a part. It is a professional business and an important part of that is how the client is presented with actors and that is where I come in as camera operator.
Working at Mark Summers was my first insight into the dedication that actors and models apply to their craft and I could not think of a better place to get acquainted with this, as it is reciprocated by the team. My background is in photography and having studied and worked in the field for several years, meant that I could appreciate the system that is in place at Mark Summers that ensures the performances in the studio give an accurate representation to the client.
From the moment an actor walks into the studio things are set up to ensure the only things the casting director and actor have to worry about is the performance. My job starts before any actors walk through the door with getting the studio set up, and making sure all the checks are done on equipment. Make sure the right backdrop is down, lights are on and working, getting the laptop prepped and logged onto the right session and all the connections are good.
All sounds easy enough and it usually is as the equipment is maintained and in such constant use that any problems are picked up and quickly corrected but forgetting something or missing a detail can change what the client can see. Rarely are they in the room and what they see is what goes down on ‘film’.
If the camera is not white balanced correctly then that skin tone that looks perfect under the lights takes on a tint that looks like a bad spray tan by the time the director sees it. If the lights are not all in working order when you turn to show your good side the camera catches nothing but shadow and if the sound is not checked then that impeccably delivered speech becomes a beginners guide to lip reading for the client. No one wants the added pressure of a retake because of an avoidable mistake by the camera operator.
So after all the checks are done the day really gets going and the setup comes into its own. There are three screens that allow the camera operator and casting director to see exactly what is being captured. The on-camera screen, the laptop and probably the most beneficial a 32-inch SMART HD TV that are all linked. Nothing is missed and framing up the shots becomes so much easier, as does giving directions to capture performances that match the storyboards.
The studio set up at Mark Summers Agency means that the camera operators job is made easier but the extension of this is the software that organises and delivers the footage to the client. The benefits of the Casting Networks software is that it can deliver the session to the client within minutes of it being shot. The only delay comes in upload time and the client can make decisions as the session runs. This has been furthered by the SMART TV, which can provide the client with a Skype link meaning realtime input into the session. We recently did this link up with Argentina for a Sony job and it really benefits everyone.
No two castings are the same and with a busy day having 80-100 people auditioning for multiple roles it is often the case that actions or scenarios are changed so that the casting remains fresh for all involved. Again when it comes to putting actors forward for multiple roles the system at Mark Summers allows for this with ease, clips can be cut and swapped around group work can be assigned to multiple actors. The client is presented with a continuos clip that shows everything the actor has auditioned for without having to search for clips.
The highest praise for the set up is that there is hardly anything to worry about from a technical point of view. Constantly updating and looking for improvements on the existing studio means that the only worry I have as camera operator is keeping up.