Los Angeles–based writer-director; TV credits include HBO's Pu-239, Showtime's Californication
I try not to cast off of tape if possible—and by tape I assume you mean Internet websites as well. There is no real substitute for being in the room with the actor and getting a feel for how he or she works and not just what the work looks like on film. Also, you don't always get to hear how the direction was conveyed to the actor by the casting director. However, when I was prepping for Pu-239 in Romania and casting in London and Prague, sometimes I had no choice but to cast most of the smaller roles off of tape. I did try and see most of our Romanian day players.
All that being said, I first became aware of Oscar Isaac, who plays a huge part in Pu-239, off of a tape that he did while at Juilliard. He was amazing, and we flew him out to L.A. to make sure it wasn't just a fluke. He was even better in person.
Los Angeles–based writer-director; film credits include Canvas, Lena's Spaghetti
I find [taped auditions] incredibly useful during the audition process, but before I make my final decision, I always do my best to meet with the actor in person. I find there to be an element that a tape just can't capture.
In the case of Canvas, I had the good fortune of casting a beautiful and wonderful little kid, Devon Gearhart, who's terrific in the movie. I saw his audition tape, and it was terrific. I was in Florida at the time, because we shot in Hollywood, Fla., and we were just a few weeks away from shooting. But I flew to L.A. that very same day to meet with him, because I wanted to give him the opportunity to meet me and also just see if I could put him through the paces a bit more than what the tape had done. I also wanted to give him the opportunity to meet one of his co-stars, and capturing that chemistry in person and seeing how he took direction was really invaluable. So I would say a taped audition is useful, but whenever possible I try and work with that actor in person and give them the opportunity to meet me.
San Francisco–based director; film credits include Enchanted, 102 Dalmatians
I try not to ever make the final decision based on tape. Depending upon how busy I am in the moment, I will let my casting director tape. I try to sit in on as many of the auditions as possible. I sat in on probably 100 of the auditions for Giselle in Enchanted, because Giselle is a difficult character to grab ahold of and understand, and I wanted to be absolutely sure that the actors understood what it was to be a Disney character. I think you can only answer those questions when you're in the room and you're the one doing the directing and asking the questions.
New York–based director and co-founder of the Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf; stage credits include Drum of the Waves of Horikawa
I have never cast an actor off of a videotape. Casting is complicated for us because our process at Two-Headed Calf is so long—and it is essential that the actors come into the process knowing our work and willing to be part of the entire development of the project.
I have been working with a core group of actors, so I do my best to cast from among that group. If they cannot fill all the roles or cannot satisfy the needs of a particular role, then I cast people I have seen in other live work. Video is such a difficult medium for representing live performance. The actors' voices are often distorted, and light creates a strange visual effect. I did once cast someone from Buffy the Vampire Slayer whom I had seen on TV. But that feels different. TV is different.
Los Angeles– and New York–based writer- director; film credits include The Good Night, TV credits include NYPD Blue
I can't imagine ever really casting someone solely off of videotape. I think the audition process in general, this kind of accepted structure, is not necessarily conducive to finding the best actor for the part. I don't think there's necessarily a better system, but there's something about auditioning that's kind of like taking the SATs. The SATs are, in some ways, like a test that essentially proves you're good at taking tests. If there's somebody who doesn't do well on the SATs, it doesn't mean that person is not intelligent. In certain cases I find auditioning can be similar: Some people are extremely good auditioners, and in my experience people who are really good auditioners are also very good actors. But there are people who are more nervous, and they don't necessarily find their best performances in that environment. It doesn't mean they're not great actors.
But I prefer auditions in person, and also I like to try to have them be as long as possible. For certain actors who are coming in to audition—the ones that are maybe more nervous—it's nice to get past that initial anxiety and just be able to work together. Somebody else taped the Good Night auditions so I could refer to them, and I did. If there's somebody who's great, you cast that person. If there are a number of people who are great, that's when I really go to the tapes.