We had the pleasure to do an interview with, Preston Chaunsumlit!
He’s Casting Director.
Preston is doing castings for editorials such as, Fantastic Man, Dazed and Confused Japan, TANK, American Vogue, dismagazine, Paris-L.A., Italian Elle, Details, Madame Figaro China. And for shows such as, Ohne Titel, Julian Louis, J.Crew, Matthew Ames, Nathan Jenden and Puma.
How did you get started as a casting director ? Was it your dream/passion to do this job ?
To be honest, I never knew such a job existed. From the sound of it, it is not a job I would expect to find myself to have. It seemed rather shallow, superficial, and harsh. I fell into this by accident. It was one mistake after another and I was mis-credited in a magazine. I got a phone call to street cast a project; the pay wasn’t so bad so I agreed to it. More jobs came in, and I began to learn what casting was more about. I liked it and wanted to explore it further. In retrospect, I guess this was the ideal job for me. I meet people from all over the world; a great cross section of society that just happened to be born on the thinner and taller side. I get to see interesting faces of tomorrow, or the ones that will set trends or trickle down…It is also fun to interpret a client wants or concepts, and even better when I am given freedom to put my own ideas and concepts out there and “flesh” it out. This is when casting can be a bit more personal and creative.
How runs for you a typical work day?
I find most of it is phonecalls and emails. Then more phonecalls and emails. I have no idea how people did this before internet. It must have been a more exclusive world. Things probably weren’t as fast and a lot more difficult to get together.
The industry is overfilled with models. How can a model succeed nowadays against the competition ?
I think being professional is most important. It is a job. On the other hand, I think anyone who wants to do this type of work must be realistic. It is funny, how modeling is always described as “competitive”. I guess models compete with one another for the same jobs to a certain degree, but there also so many factors that a model has to compete with like the structure of the industry, the timing, trends, working against debt, etc. If anything, I think a successful model is a working model who is versatile and not talk so much, but who can still retain who they are! I do like the hard workers who do not complain.
What are some of the qualities, that a model should have ?
I like the ones that come into the room are a bit different. Maybe not the most model looking type, but something about her that sticks out. A girl that becomes a model when I polaroid her. It should feel good and inspiring for a photographer when he shoots a model. She should have a good base to work with but also something that adds to the clothes or the concepts, not distracting from. I notice I enjoy someone who is more comfortable in front of the camera than in real life. This helps create the fantasy that we try to sell.
if you have the choice between two girls. One is very tall and skinny. And the other one is not very tall and skinny, but she has an amazing face. Which girl would you choose ?
It depends on the job. If its a show, then maybe the taller one can be put in a lineup of better options and blend in. If it is a beauty job, then the face is more important. However, sometimes there is something about the individual that you begin to think, so what? she has short legs and a weirdly great face, put her in the show: she is so much more right for this in the strangest way. Or the girl with the not so great face, might clean up really well and surprisingly do well at beauty. This is why we have casting, and the reason why it can be fun. I think the more successful models are never the most perfect, but they ride on this paradigm.
Which changes in the modeling business were for you particularly noticeable in the last years ?
The models looking depressed to becoming more energetic. That was refreshing to see. and FYI: they are still skinny, and probably always will be. The need for ethnicity is finally being talked about. I think it is exciting to see what comes in the door come September.
Do you think, that we will see in 10 years more celebrities, than models on the runways and in editorials ?
This is a hard question. Celebrities serve the public because of their personalities and lifestyles…models are pretty much anonymous. I feel like if things continue the way they are going now, we might not even need celebrities or models to push product…maybe something like reality TV, anyone can audition for the cover of Italian Vogue. Then again, celebrities and their personalities are so predictable and vapid, that I think people will outgrow this, and would want to relate to someone who is just aspirational and silent, maybe a return to the model, but one who is more engaging than most of them we have now.
Your black horses for the Spring/Summer fashion shows 2011 ?
This is a fun question. Because I could be very wrong!
Ok Darkhorse….someone that has no hype, and no one really knows about, and has done virtually nothing but tested and is different enough from the current trends…
What would you become, if you had not become a casting director?
I probably would be making movies or be an anthropologist; or making anthro-based sad films or filming all of my anthro research.
I guess fashion model casting is something in between.
THANKS for the interview Preston!