The Casting Director and the Director Part 1

May 17, 2022 A DGA Women's Steering Committee Virtual Event

On May 17, the Women’s Steering Committee (WSC) virtual meeting featured the discussion, The Casting Director and the Director. In a conversation moderated by WSC Activities & Events Co-Coordinator/Director Jodi Binstock (Z Nation), Casting Director Deborah Aquila (CODA) discussed how Directors can work alongside Casting Directors to find the best cast for their features.

During the conversation, Aquila shared her process for working with Directors saying, “I ask a lot of backstory and a ton of questions — the more I hear them (Directors) talk, the more the characters appear in my imagination.” She added that it is critical for her to get as much context and source material as possible, as she is committed to finding an authentic cast.

She also revealed how the industry has changed with the advent of streaming and how that has resulted in a widening of the pool of talent and availability as the wall between television and feature actors has now disappeared; and added that there is a renewed industry commitment to diversity and inclusion including disability.

Asked what advice she had for independent filmmakers on the casting process, Aquila emphasized leading with passion and not taking “no” for an answer. “If your passion is infectious, your story telling is important, and the script is based on something that is in sync with me personally, I will fight for the project.”

In the future, the Committee will present a second panel, The Casting Director and the Director Part 2, focused on casting for episodic television.

Deborah AquilaCasting Director Deborah Aquila
Aquila’s Casting Director credits include Damien Chazelle’s DGA Award-winning feature, La La Land and Siân Heder’s Academy Award-winning Best Picture, CODA; as well as more than 100 other features such as Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption, Lisa Cholodenko’s Laurel Canyon, and Peter Berg’s Deepwater Horizon. She is a four-time winner of the Casting Society of America’s Artios Award for Best Casting for Feature Film.

Jodi BinstockDirector Jodi Binstock (moderator)
Binstock’s directorial credits include the feature Call Waiting; the movies for television I’ll Be Watching and A Snowglobe Christmas; episodes of Z Nation, Boy Meets World and You Wish; and the award-winning short film A Limited Engagement. A graduate of NYU Film School and an alumnus of the Disney Directing Fellowship Binstock has been a DGA member since 1998 and serves alongside Director Eda Benjakul as a co-coordinator of the WSC Events and Activities Committee.



The Women's Steering Committee (WSC) was created to advance the professional interests of its members, and to heighten their visibility and career opportunities in the entertainment industry. The WSC currently promotes diversity through sponsoring net-working events, screenings and seminars, and fosters relationships between the members to provide support, mentoring and networking opportunities. The WSC’s current Co-Chairs are Tara Miele, Shawn Pipkin-West and Liz Ryan.

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