Reel Career Profile: Carmen Kotyk

Carmen Kotyk is an award winning Casting Director who has garnered a reputation for casting excellence within Canada and abroad. Her recent credits include Grudge Reboot (Sony Pictures, Ghost House Pictures) Run (Lionsgate), Channel Zero (Universal) and A Dog’s Journey (Amblin, Universal).

Carmen opened up The Abby in February of 2018 with the intention of “upping the game in Winnipeg” while providing a familiar space for the acting community to flourish. One of her first jobs in Winnipeg was a television series which was mandated to cast as many Manitoba actors as possible. She rose to that challenge, casting in excess of 170 MB actors over the course of the 22-episode series, which in turn grew the local talent base to what we see today.

Carmen Kotyk is the only Professional working in Canada who has cast extensively in every market in the country and has been a member of the Casting Directors Society of Canada since 2000.

When and how did you start in the media production industry?

I did my first feature film in 1997 – back in the days when we did not have cell phones or computers.  It’s alot like the story of parents/grandparents walking 5 miles to school – all uphill in 50-below weather.  With no winter boots.  In 2 feet of snow.

What area of the film industry do you work in now and why?

I work in casting.

What has been a substantial change in the industry since you started?

See above – back in the old days, the most sophisticated technology was the landline and fax.  I honestly don’t know how we did it back then.  Every aspect of the job took a lot longer to do: thousands of telephone calls to set up sessions across the country, physically going to the big markets to do casting sessions (which was a GREAT thing) and waiting on the mailman or courier to deliver headshots/video’s etc.  Today, technology has made the day-to-day stuff more efficient, but the core of the job remains the same.  

If you could give yourself advice today to yourself in the past, what would it be?

I would say, “It’s going to be OK!”.  No matter how tough the going gets, stay with it. I always tell people, “This is a tough industry to find success in; it can be really hard but also very rewarding.” My younger self could not have known what was coming in terms of technology or opportunity or that I would find a place for myself in this Canadian Community.  So thank you, stubbornness.

What is advice you would give to someone starting off in the media production industry?

I would like to say to any budding casting directors – its a long road, its really hard work, and there will be many ups and downs – but noting beats doing what you love and getting paid for it.  Also – The Golden Rule  Be kind and treat everyone and treat others the way you want to be treated.

Why is learning and training important?

This is key in any profession you want to pursue.  Why wouldn’t you want to learn as much as you can?  Learning is enrichment.  Advancement. Transformation.  Exploration……  All good things that apply to every aspect of life……what people say about “the journey being more important than the destination” just happens to be true.  Enjoy the ride.

What are some of the films, TV series or even books that have inspired you? How about anything new you’ve been into? 

How about I list a few of my favourite films:  Little Miss Sunshine, Fargo, Misery, Zoolander, Jaws, This is Spinal Tap, Elf, Seven, The Dead Zone, Iron Man, Best in Show, Silence of the Lambs, The Birdcage…..and there are many more. 

Is there something about you or an interesting past experience that you’d like to share with your colleagues?

Something Interesting…….  not about me, but my dog can carry 3 balls in his mouth at once.  

Is there someone within the film industry you would like to work with and why? 

I get to work with different people/personalities every time I do a project, so it is always new.  Sometimes challenging personalities show up, and that keeps it interesting ….there may be many reasons why somebody might be having an off day – and you learn to have space for that.  At the end of the day, we are sharing a journey with the same goal.  Making the best movie we can.  We just might have different ways of getting there. 

Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?

Ten years?  Hope to be upright and smarter than I am today.  And that my dog can carry 4 balls in his mouth!

FTM is a non-for-profit charity and member of the Province of Manitoba’s sector council program (through the Department of Economic Development and Jobs). FTM conducts workforce development and training to build a highly skilled and adaptable film industry to support the activities of Manitoba production companies. FTM collaborates with members of the film and television industry to identify the training needs within the community.