Interview with Ellie Collyer-Bristow

We had a fantastic workshop on Wednesday 25th February with freelance Casting Director, Ellie Collyer-Bristow. We got a chance to ask a few questions beforehand and here’s what she had to say:

Casting Days: Can you tell me about your background in the industry and how you got into casting?

Ellie: Initially I trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts on the Musical Theatre BA Hons course. However, in my second year I damaged my back and had to drop out for a year. I was told that if I carried on dancing I’d probably not do myself any favours.

After having a re-think, I completed a year at Goldsmiths reading English with Creative Writing but I was itching to be involved in the theatre industry again. 

After 5 months of varied work experience placements I was very fortunate to be offered a job with Anna Kennedy as her Casting Assistant and this is where I learnt the ropes of how casting worked – Spotlight, agents, running audition sessions etc. Although a lot of what I did with Anna was screen based, my passion remained in the theatre. As a result I set up a theatre production company called MokitaGrit Productions with three like-minded individuals and began casting (and later producing) for them in venues such as the Kings Head, Union Theatre and Southwark Playhouse. This work also led to other casting opportunities with other production companies as well as a stint working with Marilyn Johnson CDG on TV movies for the BBC and ITV.

In 2011 I gained a place on the Stage One Apprenticeship Scheme (a charitable scheme that supports the next generation of commercial theatre producers), where I worked at both Playful Productions and Headlong. In the Spring of 2012 the position of Casting Associate at the Ambassador Theatre Group came up. I was recommended to apply and began working at ATG that June. It was an amazing transition from having worked on theatre smaller projects and screen-based work to working with some incredibly renowned theatre directors on a mixture of dramas and musicals both in London’s West End and on national tours.

Casting Days: What would you say a particular achievement in your career was that has influenced you career?

Ellie: I don’t think there has necessarily been one stand out thing as each project has merits of its own, which then inform what you work on next. However, casting Blanche McIntyre’s production of Arcadia recently, was an absolute joy. It’s a gift of a play and Blanche is an incredibly collaborative and talented director. Arcadia was my final production working with ATG so it was good to end my time there on a particular high before setting up on my own as a freelance casting director.

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