She’s one of Australia’s top casting directors who started her career working in Kylie and Danni Minogue’s management team and then went on to opening her own casting agency.
With 23 successful years of casting under her belt, Mel Mackintosh has now launched TheBizBook, where actors have access to resources to help them boost their career.
She Does This chats with Mel on her career highlights and more…
1. Can you tell our readers how you got into the casting world? In particular, how you started your own company?
Well, I was fresh out of high school and saw an ad for a receptionist position. Arriving at the interview, I found out it was for Kylie and Danni Minogue’s manager! I worked there for around 12 months and then got a job at Chameleon Casting. I started with casting all the Just Jeans campaigns and my career just grew from there. Then, I worked at Chameleon for 8 years, Mullinars Casting for 4 years and I opened Mackintosh Casting in 2006. It was a leap of faith and I was 5 months pregnant, but I knew I had enough experience and clients to make it work.
2. Mackintosh Casting has just celebrated its 11th birthday! What’s your secret to longevity in an industry that can be quite fickle?
I’m not sure exactly what the secret is! It’s probably a combination of things. Keeping ahead on the tech advancements in casting has been important, to not get left behind. Once upon a time we used to take Polaroid photos of actors and store hard files of CV’s and head shots in big filing cabinets. Now everything we need is accessed, stored, filmed and shared via our laptops. It’s quite incredible.
Mostly, I’d say longevity in this industry relies heavily on building great relationships with clients, directors, producers, actors and agents. I’d like to think that I’ve built a solid reputation because people know we really care about what we do, but we also don’t take ourselves too seriously. It has to be fun; otherwise I wouldn’t want to do it.
3. What have been some of your career highlights? Any particular projects that you’ve worked on that are stand outs for you?
There have been so many! One of my favourites is the “Crocodile bit my head off” HBA ad. People still talk about that ad nearly 20 years later and it makes me proud that I found Alex. More recently, we cast ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ for Australia and that was just an extraordinary casting experience, one that I’ll never forget. I got to travel around and be an exclusive audience member auditioning the most talented comedians and improvisors in the country, essentially watching them do theatre sports. It was a real privilege. Also working with Eddie Perfect on his ABC comedy was a huge career highlight. He is just one of the sharpest, funniest most talented guys I’ve ever met.
4. What are some do’s and don’ts for actors who are trying to crack the industry?
I’d hate to put a dampener on it but I’d say for anyone starting out, please don’t be under the illusion that this industry is all glitz and glamour, it can be really tough!
You’ll have a long road ahead, full of ups and downs. You need to have a good level of resilience. It can also be an amazing journey full of creative rewards and achievements if you’re willing to work hard.
DO get some professional training. Acting is like a muscle that needs to exercise. Your acting classes are you gym. Find the best teachers and work with them.
DON’T expect that if you get an agent you can just sit back and wait for the work to roll in. If you secure an agent, you must understand that your relationship is a business one and both of you must believe that representing you is mutually beneficial. Managing your career is a shared responsibility, but it’s mostly on you. You still have to work, hard.
DO your homework. Watch Australian films, television, commercials and theatre. If you want to be an actor, you need to know as much as possible about the arena in which you want to work. What is being made? Who are they casting? Who did the casting? Watch other actors act. You can learn so much.
DON’T be attached to the outcome. Always be professional and friendly to everyone. This industry is small.
DO surround yourself with those who support your creative endeavours. If it’s not your friends and family, find some like-minded people who ‘get it’. Join a local theatre group, connect with other actors at workshops and classes. Follow all the acting and industry networks on social media.
DON’T give up. Your big break could be just around the corner!
5. You’ve recently launched TheBizBook, an online directory for artists. Can you explain how this sort of resource can help actors launch their career?
Yes! We went live on the 27th February, but it took a team and almost 2 years to build it!
I created TheBizBook because throughout my career I’ve often been asked for my advice with questions like “Which Agent should I approach?”, “What acting classes can you recommend?”, “Where can I get some great headshots?” or even “How can I get my child started in the biz?”.
Before TheBizBook, there was no resource available anywhere in Australia for Artists to go to and make informed decisions for their careers. There was just a heap of scattered information (and a lot of misinformation) spread all over the internet and social media.
When I started doing some research, some of the results that came up in search engines were worrying to me. I quickly learned just because something is listed in the first couple of pages on Google doesn’t mean it’s better, or even correct.
I felt this was a big problem and felt compelled to fix it. I had to create something that would make navigating this industry easier for Artists. We now have over 1600 industry businesses in the site and are ever growing.
TheBizBook offers so many features beyond just being a library of resources. We offer members full access to some locked areas, they get their own private dashboard where they can pin and manage their industry contacts, we have an exclusive promotions page to redeem some great discounts and offers from the industry, and we have a members only community where we share information, tips and advice with each other.