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Shortland Street

Weeknights at 7pm | TV2

Behind the scenes: Casting

Andrea Kelland

"A star is born" - meet Shortland Street's talent spotter - Casting Director, Andrea Kelland. (Andrea may also be familiar to you as Ferndale High Principal, Ms. Dupree!)

What is Casting?

Casting is finding the right actor for the roles created by the writers of " Shortland Street ".

The writers are about 10 weeks ahead of the shooting schedule, so they can give me an idea of the sort of characters they will be writing for. 

They then provide me with a "character brief" which I send out to Actors' agents and from these I select the most promising.

If it is a new core cast character I hold auditions.  

For smaller roles I use the huge data base of past auditions to find the most suitable person.  

I create a short list of the most suitable people and the Producer then chooses the best possible actor for the job.

How does casting for Shortland Street differ from other productions?

The nature of a long running soap opera is that it is never finished.

Unlike other casting jobs I've done once you start shooting the casting is done, and you go on to the next job.

Casting on Shortland Street is on going and apart from 3 weeks at Christmas, it just never stops. 

You may think that we will run out of actors, but luckily for me the Drama Schools keep pumping out all these excellent keen young actors and we still have a marvelous pool of talented young actors to choose from.  

Older roles are the ones that are getting more difficult as there are lots of smaller roles for middle aged people on our show. 

Naturally people want to "save themselves up" for juicier roles which may not be forthcoming.

How long have you worked at Shortland Street?

I started under Marianne Willison's reign in January 2005.  

We job shared for 2 years until her retirement in December 2006.

She had been Casting Director for fifteen years, so it was a big role to fill.  I am now sole charge and really enjoy the challenge.

What's a typical working week?

Every week is different, if I am casting in the studio it is all about contacting agents, setting up and finding a reader and seeing actors, which is probably my favorite part of the job. 

I love actors, I love encouraging them to do the best they can with the script and seeing if they have a handle on the character. 

Other weeks it is lots of contract negotiating, sorting though old tapes for the smaller roles and administration.

Lots of paper work, using the agents' web sites and emailing, reading scripts and breakdowns. 

I also try and see all the plays that NZ actors are in so I can keep abreast of their castability.

What do you love most about the job?

Auditioning actors and I love it when I watch the show and the casting works. 

To read about other Behind The Scenes jobs on Shortland Street, go to our Features page.