Casting Company Who Found ‘Ready Player One’s Phillip Zhao, Sees Uptick In Open Calls For Diverse Players

Deadline | 3/13/2018 | Anita Busch
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EXCLUSIVE: Open calls for casting. It’s something that the entertainment industry has used for ages, sometimes to find new talent to fill major roles and other times to find just the right fit for a role that is otherwise hard to cast. The young Phillip Zhao found his way into the Steven Spielberg film Ready Player One through this process. Zhao’s father submitted a video shot in their Maryland living room and his was selected out of a few thousand submissions for the role of Shoto.

The call was for a 10-13 year-old male, fluent in Mandarin/English. Many of the submissions came from Asia.

Slickly - Self-tape - Rafi - Gordon - Co-CEO

“It was homegrown and not a slickly produced self-tape,” said Rafi Gordon, co-CEO of Casting Networks, Inc., the newly re-formed company that was born from two acquisitions last year. Zhao’s father submitted the tape to Gordon’s company. “He was picked from about two-thousand (submissions) in total.” Ellen Lewis was the casting director for the film.

The guys behind Casting Networks, Inc. are Gordon and Alex Amin who met while in undergrad at UCLA. They then hooked up with some equity investors and started Filmtracker, which became Baseline, which then sold to the NY Times in 2006. They then began acquiring companies, enhancing them and selling them. Their latest is in the casting space.

Company - Networks - LA - July - Acquisition

The new company came from acquiring and then combining Casting Networks (known as L.A. Casting) in July of 2017 with another acquisition (CastIt) in September of last year; the executives consolidated both casting platforms to streamline the operation into a one-stop shop so someone can get discovered, manage their profile and then get representation. “We set them up as a landing...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Deadline
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