“I greatly admire actors who have the determination and passion to stick it through rejection”.
Success in any industry is challenging, yet when your chosen vocation consists of an enterprise built entirely on the lucrative world of entertainment, one’s obstacles exist in another stratosphere. Throw in the scarcity of Australian show business and you have yourself an audacious professional recipe.
Casting director Kirsty McGregor is the crème de le crème of the Australian film and television industry. Originally an actress, in 2001 her passion for talent ignited the birth of McGregor Casting in her modest one bedroom flat in Sydney’s Woolloomooloo. One year later, Kirsty’s strong work ethic was reaping the awards, and she opened her office in the Sydney suburb of Stanmore. Fast forward 14 years, 68 TV and Film credits, a Primetime Emmy Award nomination, a Casting Guild Australia (CGA) Award winner, and two time nominee for the Casting Society of America Awards, Kirsty now runs her business from a deluxe warehouse space in the chic suburb of Redfern – home to McGregor Casting since 2011.
With the grander space came the larger projects, and Kirsty has been appointed local casting director for Thor: Ragnarok, currently filming in Queensland, Australia and Mary Magdalene, directed by Garth Davis and starring Joaquin Phoenix. McGregor first worked with Davis as lead casting director on his first feature film Lion. Starring Nicole Kidman, the film received glowing reviews at its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2016 and is due for a USA release on November 25, 2016.
The dynamic team now comprises of six key players (including Ollie, a majestic Cocker Spaniel – aka the resident “Casting Dog”), and Kirsty’s determination has undoubtedly established McGregor Casting as a prominent fixture in the daily lives of local and international acting agents.
Here at Casting Networks, we are proud sponsors of the Casting Guild Australia Awards and can say wholeheartedly it is hard to imagine a time without the incomparable McGregor Casting. This year a plethora of CGA Award nominations have been added to their list and the winners will be announced on November 18, 2016. With nominations in seven categories, including Best Casting for a Feature Film, Best Casting for a TV Commercial, Best Casting for a Short Film, two nominations for Best Casting in a Telemovie, Best Casting in a TV Comedy and Best Casting in a TV Drama, it is evident that Kirsty McGregor and her troupe have sealed their place as Australia’s go-to Casting Agency.
On behalf of everyone here at Casting Networks Australia we would like to congratulate McGregor Casting and wish Kirsty and her crew the best of luck at the awards.
Alixandra: As a young actress why did you decide to take the leap from performing to casting?
Kirsty McGregor: I worked a decent amount for a young actor. I was very fortunate to work on some great projects and for some amazing companies and networks. But I realised that there’s no guarantee of “working your way up’.” I had actor friends who were AMAZING, the best in the biz, and selling wine in their 40s between gigs. I just decided that whilst I loved the industry, I wanted to find something for myself which didn’t depend so much on my exact age at any given time and what I looked like. I greatly admire actors who have the determination and passion to stick it through rejection – I just wanted something more stable for myself.
A: Starting your own business certainly has its challenges. What are some of the obstacles you faced in the early days of your start-up?
KM: I was very fortunate to have some wonderful clients early on and friends who held my hand and gave me advice – like the wonderful Antonia Murphy at Fountainhead Casting. She encouraged me and made me believe I could go it alone. But we still face obstacles! And I still face rejection! Casting is still a very freelance job, like acting – there are still jobs we would LOVE to do that naturally go to other people. I think one of the greatest constant worries is employing people. We are a business, but still work from job to job. It could dry up at any time! You worry as much about your employees and making sure you can pay them as you do about yourself.
A: Describe a typical day in the McGregor Casting office?
KM: Can’t – sorry! It varies so much from day to day. And we like to retain some mystery.
A: What is some advice you can give actors on scoring a role and staying pro-active?KM: Try not to think of it as scoring a role! Think of the audition as the job, not something you need to ‘get through’. If you can, come in with something to offer . . . come in and PLAY the role, don’t try and get the role. It’s a very powerful, positive, and refreshing way to approach an audition.
A: You have a number of exciting projects which you have been signed to, including Thor:Ragnarok and Mary Magdalene. How important is it for actors to have complete profiles on Casting Networks in order for them to maximise their chances of landing an audition?
KM: We use Casting Networks every hour of every day. I cannot express how important a tool it is for us. We brief on it, we book sessions via it, and we send every casting session to directors on it! Not only is it important for an actor be on the site, it is important to keep your CV and headshot UP TO DATE. We send a link to every director; they see ALL your information. What is the point of spending money on a new headshot (for example) and then not updating it so that directors will actually see it?