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Get To Know the Casting Directors: Alison Fowler and Stephanie Pringle


This installment of Get to Know the Casting Director comes with two interviewees, the women behind the Sydney-based Chicken and Chips Casting. Alison Fowler and Stephanie Pringle are known for their commitment to equal representation and diversity in casting, as well as their work in the world of indie projects. Recent credits include Victoria Wharfe McIntyre’s The Flood and Monica Zanetti’s Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt). The two virtually sat down with Casting Networks to give a window into the people behind the work, as well as to share about their new podcast The Sauce.

 

It’s nice to virtually meet you both, and I’d love to start with the moment you knew that casting was the job for you.

Fowler: I don’t know that I actually had a very specific moment. Generally speaking, it was probably just a matter of realizing that it was an actual job. [Laughs] I get to watch actors perform a script and do their own version of a character, and sometimes I get to read with them, too. There’s also the fun of picking people to audition, and so all the components of the job added up to something I wanted to do for life.

Pringle: For me, the moment that I figured out I never wanted to do anything else was when I was leaving my first casting job in Melbourne to move to Sydney. I just realized that it wasn’t an option for me to not work in casting because I really like it and am good at it. I have this weird brain that allows me to remember actors, and when I read a script, I can just imagine the people who would be good at playing the various roles. So there have been a couple of moments that just kind of reconfirmed this was the job for me. One example is working with Jean-Pierre Jeunet and observing his amazing casting process. He just taught me so much about casting, in general. 

 

Then you eventually found each other, formed Chicken and Chips Casting, and now you have The Sauce. What inspired you to create the podcast?

Pringle: We originally thought about doing it three years ago because we, as casting directors, lack hearing from other casting directors about their process. It’s obviously a niche job, and what exactly it entails is not widely known. Al and I are both really fanatical about listening to podcasts — we listen to heaps — but we couldn’t find any that were really casting director-led. So that’s kind of what inspired it, but doing the podcast at the time just wasn’t feasible so we put it on the back burner. When the second lockdown in Sydney happened, though, we finally had the time to plan it all out. And we had access to an audio booth in our office, too, so it just felt like the stars aligned.

 

It’s cool to hear of something so positive that came out of lockdown. And how would you summarize The Sauce?

Fowler: We talk about things that we love, hate, and just have strong feelings about because Chicken and Chips proudly operates under a “no bulls–t” philosophy. So we like to have very honest conversations with people both in the industry and outside of it. The idea is to target topics that are relevant to us and to our listeners, providing information that we know would support them. That can come from a variety of sources, such as a mental health expert, for example.

Pringle: Yeah, I guess the main through-line of who we have on the podcast is that they’ve all just had interesting journeys. Many of them wear different creative hats, and when asking them questions during the interviews, we keep in mind that a big part of our audience is made up of actors. It’s always been a part of our Chicken and Chips philosophy to help actors, and The Sauce allows us to make information that could be of service to them freely available. Plus, every creative person’s journey is different, and there’s not necessarily a “right” way to go about it so we try and highlight that idea with the interviews we do.

 

That’s an important concept to share. Now it’s time for my favorite question to ask casting. If someone made a film about your lives, which actor would you cast to play the other person?

Fowler: We actually ask guests this question on our podcast, too, only they have to answer for themselves. But as for Stephanie, I’ve had the same actor in mind for a while now, and that’s Krysten Ritter. She used to quite like her in Jessica Jones, although action would not be the genre of Steph’s film. It would be more of a teen drama, in the vein of Gossip Girl or The O.C. You’d be like the Krysten Ritter version of Mischa Barton.

Pringle: Because I’m 33, and my life is a teen drama? [Laughs] But yes, we’ve had this discussion on numerous occasions, and I’d still say Emma Watson for you, Al. The obvious inclination is to make it a Disney-type film, but I’m going to go with more of a rom-com genre. Let’s also make it a Christmas movie. And it should definitely be a musical, complete with lots of dance numbers. So my final answer is a rom-com Christmas musical starring Emma Watson.

 

Wow. I appreciate that you both had those answers ready to go. Now shifting gears here, I’d love to hear some of your casting inspirations.

Pringle: My casting director inspiration is David Rapaport. I’m a fan of basically every teen drama he’s ever cast, and Gossip Girl is one of my all-time favorite series. He’d just be a dream person to work with someday. In terms of casts that serve as inspiration, Amélie comes to mind. French cinema, in general, is full of casting choices that are always kind of interesting and quirky. I guess my two answers represent two very different ends of the spectrum.

Fowler: I’m going to go less specific and name ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation]. It just churns out the best Aussie dramas, as well as comedies. They really seem to have a crack at finding new people over there and tend to be a little more diverse in their casting. And because Chicken and Chips casts a lot of indie projects, we often find that our clients are telling these unique stories that call for interesting casting. They’re often looking for unknown people, which is fun and inspiring.

 

Those interested in knowing more about the women behind Chicken and Chips Casting can check out the company’s website, as well as its pages on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Actors seeking to learn more about the casting process and the business, in general, can find The Sauce on a variety of platforms that include Spotify, Amazon Music and Podbean

This interview has been edited and condensed.