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Behind the Scenes: Feature Film Casting

Every actor wants to work in film. But how does one break in? Casting directors and other industry pros share their insight and offer tips on beating the odds of nabbing the role. Moderated by Back Stage casting editor Cassie Carpenter.

Speakers include:

* Matthew Barry, Casting Director
* Victoria Burrows, Casting Director, Burrows/Boland Casting
* Scot Boland, Casting Director, Burrows/Boland Casting
* Heidi Levitt, Casting Director
* Marci Liroff, Casting Director, Marci Liroff Casting


Matthew Barry, Casting Director
Born in New York, Matthew was a successful actor, best known for starring in Bernardo Bertolucci's film "Luna." After many years of acting, he asked famed director Barry Levinson for a production job and was guided to the casting department. Matthew has since spent 17 years as a casting director, working with directors Tim Burton on "Ed Wood and "Mars Attacks" Brett Ratner on the first two "Rush Hour" films and "Family Man" Nick Cassavetes on "Unhook the Stars," "She's So Lovely," "John Q," "The Notebook," "Alpha Dog," and most recently "My Sister's Keeper" and producer Jerry Bruckheimer on "Crimson Tide" (Tony Scott) and "Con Air" (Simon West).

Matthew's ability to spot and work with talent has allowed him to discover or break the careers of James Gandolfini and Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Money For Nothing"); Ryan Phillippe, Steve Zahn, Danny Nucci, and James LeSure ("Crimson Tide"); Don Cheadle ("Devil in a Blue Dress"); Dave Chappelle and Monica Potter ("Con Air"); Lucy Liu ("Shanghai Noon"); Dakota Fanning ("Tomcats"); Roselyn Sanchez ("Rush Hour 2"); Rachel McAdams ("The Notebook"); and Katt Williams ("Friday After Next"); to name just a few.

Scott Boland, Casting Director, Burrows/Boland Casting
Scot Boland is a partner at Burrows/Boland Casting. He has worked as casting director on the TV show "Diagnosis Murder" and on such films as "The Polar Express," "Hostage," "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World," and the upcoming "A Christmas Carol" and "The Lovely Bones."

Victoria Burrows, Casting Director, Burrows/Boland Casting
A partner of Burrows/Boland Casting since 2000, Victoria has been a casting director for approximately 30 years and has worked on major motion pictures such as the upcoming "A Christmas Carol" and "The Lovely Bones," "Tin Tin," "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "King Kong," "The Frighteners," "Cast Away," "Contact," "Monster House," "The Polar Express," "The Muse," "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World," "Death Race," "Resident Evil: Extinction," "Hostage," "Max Keeble's Big Move," and "Thomas Kinkade's Home for Christmas," to name a few, working with top directors such as Peter Jackson, Robert Zemeckis, Paul W.S. Anderson, and Albert Brooks.

She has also cast notable television programs including the series: "Tales From the Crypt," "21 Jump Street," "The A Team," "Macgyver," "Diagnosis Murder," "Strong Medicine," "Walker: Texas Ranger," and "Martial Law" as well as many miniseries and MOWs.

Victoria also stepped in front of the camera as a judge on Joel Silver's NBC reality series "The Next Action Star" and one acting stint in "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World." Her other love is dog rescue; her group has saved and placed more than 250 dogs in the past nine years.

Heidi Levitt, Casting Director
Heidi Levitt has cast such successful films as "JFK," "Nixon," "Natural Born Killers," Nurse Betty," "The Rock," "The Joy Luck Club," and "Lakeview Terrace." Alternating between studio and indie fare, she has repeatedly worked with directors Oliver Stone, Wayne Wang, Wim Wenders, and Neil LaBute. In 1997, on the eve of Hong Kong's unification with China, Heidi collaborated with Wang on "The Chinese Box," which she co-produced and cast.

She served as a producer on feature films "Fido," "Center of the World," "Coastlines," and "Delivering Milo." Heidi is executive producing a film in November called "The High Cost of Living," which will be shooting in her native city of Montreal.

Recent casting credits include "Rage," written and directed by Sally Potter and starring Jude Law, Judy Dench, Dianne Wiest, Steve Buscemi, Eddie Izzard, and John Leguizamo; "Sympathy for Delicious" with actor-director Mark Ruffalo, starring Christopher Thornton, Juliette Lewis, Orlando Bloom, and Laura Linney; "Mother and Child" with director Rodrigo Garcia, starring Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson; and "The Open Road" starring Jeff Bridges, Justin Timberlake, and Kate Mara.

A graduate of Barnard College and the AFI Producers Program, Heidi's casting career began when she began working in Off Broadway theater in New York. She continues to work in theater: She cast LaBute's play "Wrecks," starring Ed Harris, at the Public Theater in New York, as well as Claudia Shear's play "Restoration" at La Jolla Playhouse in California.

Marci Liroff, Casting Director, Marci Liroff Casting
Marci Liroff's extensive credits as a casting director span more than 50 films. While working at the renowned casting office of Fenton-Feinberg Casting, she, along with Mike Fenton, cast such films as Bob Clark's "A Christmas Story" and "Porky's" the Academy Award–nominated "Poltergeist;" Steven Spielberg's "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner."

After establishing her own casting company in 1983, Marci Liroff Casting, Liroff cast the smash hits "Footloose," "St. Elmo's Fire," "Pretty in Pink," "The Iron Giant," "The Spitfire Grill," "Untamed Heart," "Freaky Friday," "Mean Girls," and most recently, "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past." Whether it's an indie or big blockbuster movie, Liroff makes a good film great and a great film a classic.

Cassie Carpenter, Casting Editor, Back Stage

Cassie Carpenter has been at Back Stage for eight years. She manages the West Coast casting department and regularly writes profiles, articles, and film reviews. She also conducts video interviews for Carpenter has hosted Back Stage "Evening With" events with Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Hopper, Bill Paxton, Emilio Estevez, and Saoirse Ronan. She was one of the panelists for a marketing-tools seminar at the 2006 Youth Actors Expo.

Also in 2006, her department won a Nielsen President's Award and a FOLIO Silver Eddie Award for Best B2B Publication Online (tied with Variety). Her team also earned an "Official Honoree for Employment" at the 11th Annual Webby Awards. In addition, she freelances for Geek Monthly. Prior to joining Back Stage, this Emerson College graduate worked at Premiere magazine.

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