SPOTLIGHT: Carly Granovsky

A Montreal native, Carly Granovsky graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor’s degree in Education. Her strong interest in storytelling led her to enroll in acting workshops at the Edgemar Center for the Arts as well as the Meisner technique under Jacqueline McClintock. She gained considerable experience casting short films and working as a casting assistant for The Montreal Casting Company. After assisting some of the leading Canadian Casting Directors, Carly relocated to Toronto and set up the eponymous Carly Granovsky Casting.

Carly has a keen eye and an intuitive sense when it comes to finding talent. With nine years of experience casting films, television, and commercials, she brings her unique perspective and sharply honed vision to each project. Carly uses her creativity and ability to draw out genuine and authentic audition performances to bring one’s vision to life. Sought after for her expertise and dedication, Carly is known to elevate productions by discovering and developing exceptional and diverse casting.

Her recent credits include A Christmas Letter (180 Sisterhood Productions), Woodland Grey (Franky Films), and Infinite Light (Dubois Films).

Carly, thank you so much for being a part of our festival's Judgment Panel, and we are thrilled to include you in The Backlot's Spotlight Exclusive this season. How has this year, and the pandemic, treated you thus far?

Believe it or not, the world of casting has not slowed down during this trying time. I was not only grateful to work on a number of projects during the pandemic, but also relieved that we were able to ensure a safe casting environment for talent. There were challenges, sure, adapting to the “new normal.” The casting process turned completely virtual; auditions pivoted to self-tapes and via Zoom. And while it may have been difficult at first, there were a lot of upsides to this new way of doing things. For starters, I was able to see way more candidates than ever before. I had the opportunity to cast real-life families, couples, and groups of friends that were bubbled for many of the commercial campaigns. All in all, it opened up the pool of talent giving me the opportunity to see new fresh faces across Canada. Like the world of casting, I too have evolved, and am excited to use these new online methods in the future, as it allows me to safely and efficiently conduct auditions.

You've been through quite the journey to get to where you are as a Casting Director, first starting your casting ventures as an assistant in The Montreal Casting Company, and then taking the leap to establish your own business, Carly Granovsky Casting, in Toronto. Why casting? What inspired you about the medium?

Casting, and in fact acting in general, has interested me for quite some time now. It began at the end of my university year, when I was teaching a drama lesson to Grade 4 students. It was because of them I was inspired to learn more about the craft of acting. I voraciously consumed everything I could about the world– taking classes, workshops and becoming familiar with the acting community in my hometown of Montreal. It was at one of these workshops where I met a casting associate who asked me to intern for him that summer. During that internship my path became clear– I was going to go into the casting industry. After my time as an intern, I worked my way up to becoming an extras casting assistant, and finally I advanced far enough to become a casting assistant. But that wasn’t enough, still I yearned for something more, something I could do independently. So I moved to Toronto, and after working for some of the best casting directors in the business, I opened up my own casting company in 2020– Carly Granovsky Casting.

Quora had a question that circled the ether recently that asked actors what they found were the most challenging aspects of their profession. Performers from all around responded with similar reactions; the uncertainty, the rejection, and some even mentioned auditioning, to name a few. Would you be able to shed a little light on what casting is expecting to see the moment actors walk into the casting room? What would alert you to an auditioning actor’s lack of experience?

Confidence. Confidence, confidence, confidence. It is the most important thing to bring into the casting room. Confidence will allow an actor to prevent any roadblocks or negative thoughts that may hinder a performance. The thing is, we casting directors know before an actor even slates whether or not they are fully in the moment, whether they can completely own the character or not. As for knowing whether or not someone has a lack of experience, it’s hard to tell if the a person has conviction. My advice to actors– trust yourself. Believe in and bet on yourself. And I know this is a cliche, but have fun. This is why we’re in the industry, is it not?

Casting is a collaborative process; you work with directors, producers, and sometimes even writers. There's a distinct process that I'm sure goes into your script breakdown and character analysis that prepares you to cast a film. Which factors do you consider to determine actor suitability for a role?

An actor’s suitability for a role comes down to a truthful performance. The actor’s energy, the choices they make, and being prepared helps me identify if they are suited for the role or not. An actor’s authenticity and vulnerability are also a key component. Being connected to the material, present, and listening to your reader will help you stand out and draw me in.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

We are on your side. Casting directors, assistants and the whole staff are rooting for you. We want you to succeed and do well. I carefully select audition material and give as much direction to help an actor do their best work. Even if you may not be right for the role and don’t get the part, we are still thinking of you. There is a role for everyone, just stay positive, and trust the casting process.

The industry has seen a very progressive shift the last few years, particularly in the consideration that goes into casting projects more diversely. What do you look for when trying to land a leading performer, now? Has that shifted?

I encourage diversity. I have always felt it best to put as many different types of actors and people in front of my clients as possible. We must be open-minded and be inclusive within the stories we tell. What I look for in a leading performer is a naturalistic performance of the character that is represented by all identities and backgrounds. If an actor can bring their own individual perspective to the work and to the story, that will get them noticed and ultimately get them the part!

Do you run all your services through your website? Are there other professional channels or networks you use to create awareness of your upcoming castings? Which methods do you engage to source talent for auditions?

I primarily use Casting Workbook and Breakdown Express for most of my projects. Both are great casting sites to receive submissions from agents and actors. I also post my casting calls online in various acting groups on Facebook and on eBOSS if a role requires a special skill or if I need to broaden my reach. As well, all my castings are listed on my social media pages, check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

What is most challenging about what you do? What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

The most challenging would be sorting through hundreds of talent submissions. There just isn’t enough time, especially when you have a tight deadline to meet. However, it’s in my best interest to select actors efficiently and give those who meet the criteria a chance to come in and audition for the role. My advice for someone who is considering a career in casting is to volunteer. The best way to get experience is by observing and getting your foot in the door.

In your experience, what is important to add to a casting contract? Is there advice you can offer or red flags performers should look out for?

Practically every detail of the job should be on a casting contract: everything from the rate to the accommodation to the per diem. They should be completely and totally thorough. My advice– an actor should read the contract very carefully with their agent. If it isn’t up to their standards, try to find a way to make the contract reflect the points that are important to them.

We are over the moon to have you on board the judging panel this season! Please share with our attendees what you’re most excited to see and what you will be keeping an eye out for with each submission.

I’m excited to see all the short independent films that will be nominated. I look forward to seeing talented and diverse filmmakers get recognition for all their hard work. Filmmaking is a creative process and I appreciate and support how this film festival honours the achievements of all that have been selected to participate.

We were very particular in what we were looking for within our judge panel, and we hand-picked each member. We are very clear on why we chose you - but we’re dying to know: What made you choose us? You accepted our invitation without hesitation, and we love that! Can you tell our submitters and attendees why?

I was very impressed to see your efforts to bring a virtual festival to life that has a purpose and creates a space for conversation. I feel very privileged to be part of this festival, especially with the great team behind it!

Well, Carly, thank you again for taking part in this interview and for sharing with our readers all of your wisdom. We are so excited to welcome you to the team, and can’t wait to share our festival with you!

Thank you for having me!

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