Rising Stars winners (L-R): Kamil Ellis, Angus McLaren, Sean Keenan, Sara West, Eliza Scanlen, Pallavi Sharda, Thomasin McKenzie and Toby Wallace. Missing were Osamah Sami and Geraldine Viswanathan. (Photo: Casting Guild of Australia).

Kirsty McGregor won the prize for best casting for a feature film for See-Saw Films’ Lion at the Casting Guild of Australia’s annual awards.

Janine Snape was recognised for achievement in casting for the Melbourne Theatre Company production of Jasper Jones at the awards hosted by Susie Youssef and Darren Gilshenan last Friday night in the offices of Holding Redlich.

McGregor, who is the CGA’s president, updated members on the guild’s campaign to persuade AACTA to introduce a category in its annual awards for casting.

“Year after year there is an annual celebration of our film and television industry to which casting directors are not included or invited,” she said.

The guild also named the 10 actors who are this year’s Rising Stars: Pallavi Sharda, Sara West, Geraldine Viswanathan, Eliza Scanlen, Thomasin McKenzie, Angus McLaren, Osamah Sami, Sean Keenan, Kamil Ellis and Toby Wallace.

CGA VP David Newman from McSweeney Newman Casting said that in the past 12 months those 10 have “stunned us, shocked us and taken us on journeys in auditions that will live with us for years to come.

“We feel [they] are not only rising stars but the group with the most potential to take their craft and talent beyond Australian shores and break through internationally.”

No doubt speaking for many in the room, Newman observed: “One of the greatest privileges of a casting director is to be an actor’s first audience. It’s the moment that reminds us why we’re actually here, what the job is really all about.

“It’s the audition where, as soon as we say ‘when you’re ready’ or ‘action’ the air in the room literally changes, the actor has left all the day’s troubles at the door, has retained their power and is brave and courageous enough to hold their own and explore their choices.”

Among the other award winners, all determined by CGA members, were Alison Telford, who received the best casting for a drama prize for Matchbox Pictures’ Seven Types of Ambiguity, and Newman and Tom McSweeney, who took home best casting for a TV comedy for Matchbox Pictures’ The Family Law series 2.

Best casting for a TVC went to Antonia Murphy for MLA’s Celebrate Australia and best casting in a short film to Newman for writer-director Steven Woodburn’s Banana Boy.

Accepting the award for Lion, McGregor thanked See-Saw Films, director Garth Davis, her casting associate Gemma Brown and her husband James Lugton.

Lion was one of the most special and precious experiences of my life,” she said. “I travelled to London, New York and LA to work with some incredible actors. And most especially I got to work with hundreds of incredible children in India which was just unforgettable. Working with Garth Davis is about the most inspiring experience you can have. I learned so much from him both professionally and personally.”

On the guild’s campaign to be included in the AACTA awards, she acknowledged the groundswell of support from producers, directors and actors, noting that dozens of filmmakers wrote letters of support.

Last month AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella asked McGregor to meet the AACTA board to state her case and she is hopeful casting will be recognised in the 2018 awards.

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