How did you get started in the theater industry? Were you ever on the other side of the table?
I have always been passionate about theatre. My degree is in Secondary Education and Literature, but I took a minor in Theatre and my first few jobs out of college were all acting-related.I still perform occasionally so I certainly understand the actor's plight.
How did you get into casting specifically?
I moved to Chicago in 1999 to be in a bigger market as an actor. I interned at the Goodman Theatre later that year in their casting office and found that I really loved the work. Tara Lonzo, the casting director at the time, really encouraged me to try my hand at directing as well and I found that I loved that, too. So that internship really marked a shift for me away from acting towards casting and directing.
For those not aware, how does your role as casting director fit into the production process? For instance, when and how does Paskal Rudnicke get involved in a production, what do you do for a client, and when does your role end?
For both commercial and theatrical casting, the wheels of production are usually already moving by the time a client/director starts looking for actors. As a casting director, the first thing I am hopefully providing for my clients is efficiency. If I'm doing my job right, I'm using my knowledge of the Chicago talent pool to show them actors who are going to solve their problem without them having to do days and days of general auditions on their own and wade through hundreds of auditions with actors who are not right for the roles they are seeking to cast. That's the biggest part of the job.
Equally important, though, is the fact that the casting director generally conducts that initial audition with the actors. Most of the time the director is not there in that first call, so your job as the CD is also to help the actors you're bringing in put their best foot forward with their audition.
My job ends when the roles are filled!
What's a typical day/week like for you?
Well, I'm only part-time at Paskal Rudnicke these days, so my work day is incredibly different every day, which is generally how I like it. Last week might be a good example: Monday I taught an on-camera workshop for a college downstate. Tuesday I scheduled a day of auditions for a short film. Wednesday I did a handful of private coaching appointments and taught an on-camera class downtown. Thursday I interviewed designers and stage manager candidates for the show I'm directing this summer, and Friday I ran a commercial casting session. Yeesh. I'm tired just writing about it...
How does your ongoing work as a theatre director influence your work as a casting director for TV and film?
They certainly feed each other. I'm constantly meeting actors for both jobs, and there's always crossover.
Interviewed by Dan Granata in Spring 2011.
Matthew Miller is Associate Casting Director at Paskal Rudnicke Casting. His film credits include the Chicago casting for The Weatherman, The Amityville Horror, The Ice Harvest, Stranger Than Fiction, Let's Go to Prison!, The Breakup, The Promotion, The Express, and Public Enemies. He has also worked on advertising campaigns for hundreds of companies. As a stage director, Matt’s recent credits include the Jeff recommended revival of The Weir for Seanachai Theatre Company, the staged reading of 4000 Miles for Steppenwolf’s First Look Repertory (with Tony winner Deanna Dunagan), Serendipity’s Chicago and L.A. productions of Girl, 20 (Best Director and Best Ensemble nominations LA Weekly 2008 Theatre Awards), and the world premiere of Graceland for Profiles Theatre (Top 10 Plays of the Year 2009, Chicago Tribune & Sun Times).
> Matt shares his thoughts on headshots, agents, and leaving Chicago in the CAR article Getting Noticed in the Casting World.