ABOUT SHASTA LUTZ: Shasta built Jigsaw Casting from scratch. In 1996. Solo. Under Shasta’s wing, clients are assured access to the best negotiator in town who is expert in all the rules of engagement, all the while benefiting from her long-standing industry relationships. Her thumbprint is on every aspect of each casting experience: aiming for best performers turnout, ever mindful of budgets, and always creating space for fresh faces.
1. WHAT WAS YOUR JOURNEY TO BECOMING A CASTING DIRECTOR?
I got my first break when I tended bar at a photographer’s event. The owner of the Studio Richard Picton said he thought I’d be great for a Molson Canadian poster. “Like use me in the poster I said?” and he replied “No, people like you.” I rounded up my friends and we drank beer and had a blast. A few months later someone from an Ad Agency called me looking for some of the key people in the print Ad to use in a TV spot. The Producer asked me if I was the agent or the Casting Director? I asked what the difference was. “ Well, an agent gets a percentage of the actors fee and a Casting Director gets paid off the top.” I told them I was the Casting Director. I took around the few ads that I did in a little portfolio and told people I had done a ton of campaigns but this was the best example of my work. This landed me another job and eventually I didn’t need to exaggerate my experience. 20 plus years later I have 7 thousand jobs under my belt.
2. WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT CASTING?
I love hearing my name….Creatives insisting on using me. I love winning a job. I love the relationships that are built with the Directors. I love when I bring and a wildcard and they are chosen. Giving someone their first job and hearing about it a decade late always makes me smile.
3. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING ACTORS?
You need a great headshot – it’s your business card. TRAINING TRAINING TRAINING …improv ability is key to landing many commercial roles.
4. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO STAGE MOMS AND DADS?
Check in with their kid…are they enjoying this? Are you getting callback’s? If you aren’t this is a concern. Maybe this biz is not for you.
5. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST MISTAKE THAT PERFORMERS MAKE WHEN AUDITIONING?
Not being prepared…only reading their lines and no concept of what the scene is. Apologising the middle of an audition. I can assure you we are more concerned with delivery then exact lines. Just coming in and half assing it..not bringing in a choice or an idea. Sitting through 30 auditions and everyone doing it the same way can be a bit teeth bleeding
6. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR TALENT TO HAVE A DEMO-REEL?
Imoportant – Even if it’s just good filmed self-tapes you’ve put in a reel…I often look and so do my clients to see range. Having one really helps sell you through when client just not sure.
7. IF AN ACTOR HAS NEVER AUDITIONED FOR YOU, WHAT CAN THEY DO TO HAVE THE HONOR OF THAT FIRST AUDITION WITH YOU? (E.G. A DEMO REEL? A SELF-TAPE? SPECIFIC TRAINING? SPECIFIC EXPERIENCE?)
We aren’t doing our job if we don’t see new people. Also, A good agent will push for their actor to be seen if they’ve been submitted a few times and not called in. IF you have a good headshot and nothing on your resume but improv training…I’ll still see u. I think actors forget that we are also auditioning for the job. We are a. partnership. We need you as much as you need us.
8. IN OUR OPINION, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR AN ACTOR TO BE ON THE ROSTER OF A TOP AGENCY?
Listen, a good agent opens doors. I strive to deal with only agents that abide by TAMAC or EIC. However, a reputable one is just as good. Agency’s make their money getting you work not off the goods and services they sell.
9. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE CANADIAN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY DO DIFFERENTLY IN ORDER TO GROW?
We need more ethnicity…My clients are demanding that all Canadians are represented in their commercials. We need more options.
10. WE ALL HAVE MENTORS (THE PEOPLE WHO GIVE US THE HOPE, INSPIRATION, AND THE DRIVE TO KEEP GOING) … WHO ARE YOUR MENTORS AND WHY?
I surround myself with smart women that have talked me off the ledge and counselled me when it comes to business decisions, difficult roadblocks. Tara Handley, Karen Tameanko and Judy Hamilton are part of my Super Model posse. I admire them and count on good advice – even if I don’t want to hear it. Lastly, Derek Case has been a friend and mentor to me for many years. He has experienced every bump I’ve encountered, he has also been a father figure to me. I’m not sure If I would be where I am today without his education and advice over the years.