Lydia Martinez-Cash, has been represented as an actress for over 10 years in the Southwest Market, successfully being cast in over 25 independent film productions. Today, Martinez-Cash continues working as an actress. After years of experience in front of the camera, this Texas-based actress has begun leading behind the camera, as a casting director.

Martinez-Cash shares with us what she has learned in her career casting independent productions.

1. When given the task to cast a commercial, how do you approach the casting process? What is your process from reading a script to meeting an actor for the first time?

A casting director has to be on the same page of what each client is looking for. Ironing out all details is key to a successful casting session. There are many talented actors out there. You want to make sure that you keep focus on what each project calls for so you bring the talent needed thru the door.

2. Where are the best places to seek out local talent?

It can vary. It really depends on the project. We can find talent thru network groups dedicated to certain actors or agents or a mixture. Referrals are even a possible source.

3. What are the challenges that come with casting independent productions? How do you manage the influx of auditions?

Independent projects’ challenges are unique. Checks and balances really rely on what the teams are willing to say yes to, since there is no major organization weighing in on the overall ins and outs of a project. They can be very rewarding as far as having a creative license.

Managing the amount of talent auditions that come thru depends on how many submissions that are sent in per role. Sometimes, you have slots filled for one part due to the sheer amount of interest for it. If those not selected don’t fit into possibly other roles, the search continues.

4. When casting independent productions, do you always request self-tapes vs. holding in-person auditions?

What are the positives and the draw backs of each way to cast?Normally for shorter projects that are not features, online seems to work better. With shorter projects, you have tighter deadlines. Doing in-person auditions can be tricky and could leave out possible talent that are available for the shoot dates and just not the in-person audition.

Especially with living in a city [Houston] that is greatly diverse. Finding that one type can take much longer on short projects if only i- person auditions are done. With digital being a way of life now, I see it to be done more often, in an effort to manage time and have higher outputs.

A positive is we hire more people to assist in sorting thru auditions and we aren’t taking a gamble that talent won’t show up. A drawback is some talent may send in a good tape and some may not send in a good tape. A tape that’s not good is one that didn’t follow the instructions when they sent it over to submit.

5. What are the tips you would give to talent taping an audition and how to approach sending in a self-tape?

Advice I give for taping is, always send in a tape with a max of 3 takes to achieve. If you have not been pleased with your performance by the 3rd one, you need more practice or work in a classroom to get there. It is worse to a get a part you were not ready for than to not get selected. Also, read all the directions given in however communication is being established for your audition.

Casting is a very long process and an office or team send you information in hopes you can follow it and send in a stellar tape that promotes your talent. Everyone is cheering for you, that’s why you get asked to audition.

6. What is your favorite part about casting?

My favorite part about casting is sometimes presenting talent that may not get as big of an opportunity due to whatever reason. I want to propel the idea of everyone seeing someone that could be them or looks like them on camera. If they have the talent they should have the chance.

7. Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience?

Keep tabs on who is doing what in your field and what roles are being presented year after year. Technology changes the demands and wants for casting.