Pin It
troy fearn casting directors
@troyfuss

The next gen of casting directors on what they look for in potential models


TextDazed Beauty

Ahead of the 2019 Fashion Awards, Madeleine Østlie, Mischa Notcutt, Troy Fearn, and Holly Cullen – all nominated as NEW WAVE: Creatives – share their expertise

Now that fashion month has officially ended in Paris, the majority of the industry is likely taking a huge sigh of relief that all the craziness is finally over. For the casting directors of the world though, the job is never quite done.

While their peers are dialling things down (only slightly as fashion never really rests) casting directors always have their eyes on the streets, looking for new faces to sign to their own agencies, or scout for other major names. 

You’ll likely be familiar if not by name, then definitely by the work of casting legends like Anita Bitton – responsible for the faces at Marc Jacobs and Prada – but there’s a new school of casting directors rising. To spotlight the next gen, ahead of the annual Fashion Awards, the British Fashion Council has announced its NEW WAVE: Creatives – a list of upcoming talents in the industry set to make it big. 

Among them are seven casting directors from all over the world, including Madeleine Østlie, Mischa Notcutt, Troy Fearn, and Holly Cullen – all of whom we speak to below about their journey into casting, what they look for in potential models, and the weirdest place they’ve ever scouted. 

MADELEINE ØSTLIE

How long have you been casting for? How did you first get into it?

Madeleine Østlie: I have been casting for around seven or eight years, since Adwoa Aboah was 17. That’s when we met – at Brunswick House dancing on a table. I adored her from day one and we started casting things together. Katie Grand gave us a big break working on a Mert & Marcus shoot for LOVE

How have you seen the landscape of casting change over the time you’ve been doing it? 

Madeleine Østlie: Diversity finally pushed through – people are valuing models/talent for their unique qualities! Street casting has become increasingly prevalent and it’s great as it gives more kids an opportunity and also changes the physical landscape of what a model should look like. 

What do you look for when you’re scouting? 

Madeleine Østlie: A point of difference. An honest face. Someone who doesn't realise how amazing they are; they’re the best finds. 

“Street casting has become increasingly prevalent and it’s great as it gives more kids an opportunity and also changes the physical landscape of what a model should look like” – Madeleine Østlie

How does your process change each season? Are there particular trends you look for or notice in models making it big?

Madeleine Østlie: No process changes – we maintain our work ethic. We also really try and always work with street cast/talent/models that have never been seen before. We are always searching for newness and avoiding trends and I think a keen eye and a gut feeling is the only thing that can spot if something will ‘make it big’. 

What is the strangest place you’ve ever scouted somebody? 

Madeleine Østlie: On Grindr.

How do you think the landscape will continue to change in the future?

Madeleine Østlie: I think the age of influencers will take a tumble. We’ll go back to a more organic process where both clients and the industry as a whole takes less interest in social media stats. It's not always about the numbers. Money is not everything, guys. 

MISCHA NOTCUTT 

How long have you been casting for? How did you first get into it?

Mischa Notcutt: I first got into casting when I assisted Missy Walford on London Fashion Week. I fell in love with it from then. I then continued this through styling and started street casting my own shoots and in turn people started to ask me to do theirs. My first solo show was Cottweiler in a basement at Sang Bleu – we still work together now. 

How have you seen the landscape of casting change over the time you’ve been doing it? 

Mischa Notcutt: Definitely, inclusion and diversity is at the forefront, which is so nice, instead of it being a last minute thought, or not at all. It’s definitely something that everyone is thinking about instead of something that I would have probably had to bring up before. 

What do you look for when you’re scouting? 

Mischa Notcutt: I’m in love with faces and people so I am always casting. However, sometimes I’m set a brief and have to look for certain people. I love all sides of it. Like Olivia Pope I trust my gut, if someone strikes me, I approach them. 

“Inclusion and diversity is (now) at the forefront, which is so nice, instead of it being a last minute thought, or not at all. It’s definitely something that everyone is thinking about instead of something that I would have probably had to bring up before” – Mischa Notcutt 

How does your process change each season? 

Mischa Notcutt: The process is the same for me most seasons, the only thing that differs is the brief from the client. I like to really find the best face for what the designer/stylist/photographer wants to convey. I think character can be so important and beauty in all forms. Sometimes I love to build a line-up of people where all there faces are similar, regardless of race. Like the shape of their noses or face. 

Are there particular trends you look for or notice in models making it big?

Mischa Notcutt: I like to look beyond trends and focus on faces that intrigue and inspires me. Obviously diversity has been noted as a trend but I hope this becomes a staple of our industry across the board.

What is the strangest place you’ve ever scouted somebody?

Mischa Notcutt: I have run after so many people on the street – jumped off the bus and sprinted. I’ve found people in clubs, shopping centres, beaches, theme parks, train stations, even Sainsbury’s. I’m always casting. 

TROY FEARN

How long have you been casting for? How did you first get into it?

Troy Fearn: I started down the usual path of interning with set designers, photographers, and stylists before joining fashion brand KTZ. I soon took over the brand’s online platforms creating content, lookbooks, and campaigns. I produced a lot of shoots, cast a lot of kids and was then offered various side projects as a result. 

How have you seen the landscape of casting change over the time you’ve been doing it? 

Troy Fearn: When starting out ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’ were very much buzzwords with brands often, and sometimes quite obviously, casting one non-white model in order to tick the POC box. The industry has come such a long way in a short amount of time though and fashion is so much more open to diversity and positive representation than it has ever been.

What do you look for when you’re scouting? 

Troy Fearn: Characterful faces. Some kind of energy. If I look at a person and don’t want to know everything about them; who they are, where they’re from, what’s the backstory, then I probably won’t want to put them in a shoot or show.

“If I look at a person and don’t want to know everything about them; who they are, where they’re from, what’s the backstory, then I probably won’t want to put them in a shoot or show” – Troy Fearn

How does your process change each season? Are there particular trends you look for or notice in models making it big?

Troy Fearn: This process doesn’t change – I call models in, I see them walk, I make a decision. I’m not looking for models who have walked 10 shows or are holding the top campaigns, I’m looking for character and personality. I want them to embody a collection and to give me something more than just an interesting face. This doesn’t need to be an agency model either, sometimes the ones that give it best are the non-agency kids I’ve scouted in the dance or at the back of the bus. 

What is the strangest place you’ve ever scouted somebody? 

Troy Fearn: Supermarkets, raves... to be honest, they’re all pretty PG.

HOLLY CULLEN 

How long have you been casting for? How did you first get into it?

Holly Cullen: I have been working full time casting for just over two years, and previous to that working on projects with friends and creatives another year or so. I came into casting from the photography side of things, and over time became aware that my interest in images was really about the people in them. I think its always been there. I still have an amazing United Colors of Benetton Magazine, “Kokeshi Dolls” which is cast and shot in Tokyo published 1999. I must have been about 12 when I picked it up, and something about the people in this struck a real chord with me, I still come back to it.

How have you seen the landscape of casting change over the time you’ve been doing it? 

Holly Cullen: It’s changed a lot. I think the velocity of change is big too. We are seeing a lot of change, very quick. Without entering the image saturation conversation too much, it also brings with it a lot of possibilities. A lot more accessibility for those of us working in casting, and also for those who can now create their own platform to be seen and cast. As always, great work in image-making and casting will hold its own in the waves of change.

What do you look for when you’re scouting? 

Holly Cullen: A lot of it is a sense of finding the ‘truest’ answer to the brief/project/requirement – the most believable people for the image and team. Sometimes that comes in an unexpected package that may not initially be expected, but it always rings through. I like creating stories. Personality is also huge too. I love engaging with people, meeting with them, and hearing their stories – it’s important to read how the process feels for those being cast too, and what it means to them. 

“I hope we can attain true diversity within the industry and that it’s here to stay and that those inclined to appropriate can instead sit back and be excited about new perspectives and learn” – Holly Cullen 

How does your process change each season? Are there particular trends you look for or notice in models making it big?

Holly Cullen: I would say my personal process is for the most part unchangeable, but at the same time quite malleable depending on what I am working on. I would say being aware and in touch with cultural conversations, visual theory, and what’s going on in the industry is super important to me. And of course being in touch with youth and youth culture, there is so much to be learnt from them. Trends are tricky – it’s our responsibility to ensure that people are not a trend and that we find true diversity in the industry. 

What is the strangest place you’ve ever scouted somebody? 

Holly Cullen: Maybe not strange but certainly different experiences for me; KFC in Beirut? Wrestling Gym? Backstreets of Rome?

How do you think the landscape will continue to change in the future?

Holly Cullen: It will continue to grow in a way that we look towards the real, in all its forms. It’s impossible to open up to more real people and hear the stories of those we are creating pictures of and then for that to go away. We will see a lot more merging of fashion and art, and that’s exciting. Accessibility means collaborations and cross-disciplinary work is there for people to explore. I hope we can attain true diversity within the industry and that it’s here to stay and that those inclined to appropriate can instead sit back and be excited about new perspectives and learn.

Read Next
women refugees beauty donation help
Women for Refugee Women wants your unused beauty products this Christmas Beauty Feature
antoni queer eye sexiest man alive people magazine
‘Sexiest man alive’ is a tired phrase we need to leave in 2019 Think piece
body image survey confidence self esteem
Most of us will never feel confident with our body image, new data reveals Beauty news
cae monae trans black music artist make up
Cae Monāe is the artist finding strength in black trans power Performance artist
SONYA
Dancing on my own Photo story
Dazed Hannah Murray
From ballet to blush: MUA Hannah Murray on her effortless, cool girl style Spotlight
queer eye fab five self care netflix
Why we should question the ‘self-care’ of Queer Eye Think piece
dorian electra music genderfluid music artist
Pop star Dorian Electra flips gender stereotypes using ‘gross’ make-up Beauty Feature
kim kardashian vampire facial blood period
Abso-bloody-lutely: Five uses for your period blood every month Beauty Feature
glasses are forbidden japan women ban
#GlassesAreForbidden: Female workers in Japan protest rule banning glasses Beauty news
Isamaya Ffrench Jermaine
Learn how to create these experimental make-up looks with Isamaya Ffrench Beauty news
Huda
Huda Beauty is coming to London with its first-ever pop-up store Beauty news
sweetmutuals instagram make-up artist rina sawayama
@sweetmutuals is the eclectic MUA artist captivating IG with her beauty Beauty Feature
Sacred Gold
Curated ears and more of the biggest piercing trends for 2020 Beauty Feature
Af4KZ-1
What will designer babies look like in the future? Think piece
mary_dav tribal tatto tramp stamp make-up
Calling all spooky bitches! Try this dark beauty trend post-Halloween Beauty Trends