Talking pictures : how they are made and how to appreciate them (1937)

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The Casting Director The studio casting director actually selects only three out of four levels of players: first, the stars; second, the secondary principals; third, the "bits," (atmosphere players, such as shoe clerks or newsboys, who have one or more lines to speak). The fourth and last level is largely composed of "crowd people." In the old days, studio casting direc- tors also picked "crowd people." But it was found that both confusion and downright hardship and discomfort to the lesser paid players was an inevitable result. Players in this lower level were forced to telephone, individually, some fifteen studio casting offices daily. In addition, they rushed frantically from one studio to another to sustain their connections. Studio telephone connections were swamped, and the personnel found itself with insufficient time to take care of anyone properly. To avoid these difficulties which arose, on December 4, 1925, the Central Casting Corporation was organized. It is a unique service organization formed and owned by the Association of Motion Picture Producers. Those companies which are members pay the expenses for the service of this organization. The advantages of this bureau are several. It makes it necessary for a minor player to telephone only once a day to ascertain work possibilities. It permits the cast- ing directors of many studios to file separately bulk orders such as "forty-five police officers," "five hun- dred members of an Irish mob," "twelve bookkeepers," "twenty-seven automobile mechanics," "two-thousand Chinese." [135]