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L.A. TV, Film Production Exodus Affects Bizzers: Casting Agent Bill Dance

Growing trend of shooting outside Los Angeles is keeping exec close to home - but not by choice

Bill Dance is staying close to home these days, but not by choice. The growing trend of shooting outside Los Angeles has kept him there.

The 62-year-old casting director, who has specialized for three decades in providing background actors via his North Hollywood-based company Bill Dance Casting, finds he can no longer offer his services outside California.

“If it’s New York, Chicago, New Orleans, they all require that the background casting be done by a local office,” Dance muses. “It’s hard to pinpoint when things changed. The last three or four years, we’ve been seeing more and more producers head out of state and out of the country.”

Dance has plenty of experience outside Hollywood.

“I know how to cast,” he recalls “I did calls in Manhattan for 6,000 actors and at Princeton for 6,000 more for ‘A Beautiful Mind.’ Unless it’s a place that hasn’t developed its own infrastructure, like Wyoming, I don’t leave town.”

Dance finds himself puzzled over California’s lack of reaction to runaway production.

“It’s very frustrating to watch, because what you’re seeing more and more of is low-budget modified shoots in L.A. where they don’t need that many actors,” he notes. “This is where (the industry) began. Why uproot something that’s so indispensable?”

Dance says there’s still work for him on the occasional major studio movie shooting locally, such as Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” starring Tom Hanks.

“I’m very passionate about this, and I think it’s reached a point where people are realizing that we’re hemorrhaging,” he adds.

To make up for the lost work, Dance has been teaching seminars and coaching actors privately. “I am also being approached by schools, universities, colleges to teach master classes,” he adds.

 

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