Review: Secrets From The Casting Couch

An entertaining behind-the-scenes view of Prague's film industry

There is no shortage of various and sundry “how-to break into the film business” books flooding the market with promises of proven formulas and techniques to become the next Angelina Jolie, Hugh Jackman and Matt Damon, that is why Secrets From The Casting Couch, by Emmy-nominated casting director Nancy Bishop, who has actual real world experience casting film projects with Angelina Jolie (Wanted), Hugh Jackman (Van Helsing), and Matt Damon (The Bourne Identity) proves a welcome and much needed addition to the genre with its direct, straightforward advice; no-nonsense presentation; penetrating humor and perceptive examination of the casting process offered by a working professional in the industry.

 Bishop, whose numerous other casting credits include, Casino Royale, Alien vs. Predator, Hellboy, and Prince Caspian; who has collaborated with legendary directors and producers such as George Lucas, Roman Polanski, Joel Schumacher and Jackie Chan, peppers her book with insightful stories about working on these and other projects; providing a detailed behind-the-scenes view of not only “the nuts and bolts of casting” but also more importantly why those nuts and bolts exist and how an aspiring actor can begin to accurately influence the casting process themselves.

 Secrets From the Casting Couch provides a wealth of insider information that should prove especially valuable not only to actors but also directors and anyone interested in the film industry and casting process as well. Especially important sections include how to enjoy the casting process, turning your nerves to your advantage, how to bring your personality into the casting room with you (rather than leaving it at the door), treating an audition like a rehearsal, when to take risks and when to play it safe, inner monologues, play in the eyes, how to prepare a self-audition, and tools of the trade: how actors should market themselves to casting professionals. Sections on European actors working in America and vice versa, including information on visa requirements will be of especial importance to actors in Europe and Prague (where Bishop is based).

 What is refreshing in the book is Bishop’s understanding and empathy with the actor and the casting process from the actor’s point of view. Repeating the mantra of “Showbiz ain’t fair,” however, Bishop prepares actors for the often disappointing moments that accompany any film professional throughout their career. To directly battle this “unfair” business, Bishop offers one of the most revelatory sections of the book outlining her belief in actors creating their own work and taking their own professional future actively into their own hands rather than waiting for someone to discover them and hand them a career.

 Concise, witty, and both supremely and incisively practical, Secrets From The Casting Couch is essential reading for novices looking to enter the film industry and established professionals looking to enhance their careers. A must read.

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