Christa Schamberger-Young
+27 11 440 3477
Independent Casting Director
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Cape Town & Johannesburg
(The Casting Connection cc)
South Africa

Previous Credits
Casting in Africa
The Team
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Archived News & Highlights 2009
2003 to 2005 2006 to 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 201220132014
News and Highlights - September to December 2009
17th December 2009
Christmas Lunch

South Africa virtually shuts down around the middle of December -  rather like Europe and America during their summer holidays. We schedule a few hours of "unavailability" to sneak off and say thank you to people who have helped us get through the year.
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Christa presides over our table at "La Rustica" restaurant just up the road. Clockwise from Christa's left: Mencke Strydom (Admin Asst.), Tumelo Sibanda & Bianca Jane (Readers), Debi Nethersole  (Temp Admin Asst.), Susan Rossouw (Casting Director), William Morrison (Camera Op), Claire Wroegemann (Friend, Counsellor, Dean of Students at Boston Media House)
4th December 2009
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Director Wayne Thornley encourages actors to "Go for it!" during Call Backs and auditions for Zambezia, a full length animated feature film produced by Cape Town based Triggerfish Animation Studios.

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Christa gives veteran actor Owen Sejake a briefing while  Mongi Nthombeni catches up on the next scene during what turned into a marathon day as Reader. 

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Mongi's boundless energy was much appreciated and remarked upon by all the actors who auditioned, including Annabel Linder, a veteran of theatre, cabaret, radio and television. A compliment indeed.


Zambezia writer and creative producer Anthony Silverston poses with one of the posters in the hallway. Christa cast his father's Graduation film Wheels and Deals nearly twenty years ago!

To see a short clip from the Zambezia pilot, click on the logo:  ZambeziaLabelLogo.jpg

News and Highlights - January to September 2009
12th September 2009

Nomination presentationAttending the Nomination Awards ceremony organized by the Casting Society of America gave me an opportunity to meet some of the American and British casting directors with whom I've collaborated by telephone and email for sevral years.
Alexa Fogel organised Generation Kill actors Eric Ladin and Jon Huertas to present our Nomination Certificates, a task which they accomplished with great good humour.

Christa and Emmy Statue

The Creative Arts Emmy Awards took place on the following Saturday at the Nokia Theatre. I was impressed by the apparently effortless efficiency with which the enormous audience was handled.

The Casting Director's award is the first one of the event, so after all the waiting, it was all over very quickly. Rachel Freck received the casting award for Little Dorrit.  The Awards were followed by a gala dinner and ball in the adjoining LA convention centre.  The Emmy Nomination and the trip back to Los Angeles has been an extraordinary experience, which I am thrilled and delighted to have had.


South African actor Gideon Emery, who has been living and working in LA for several years, graciously delayed a birthday bash with friends to be my charming escort to the event.

25 August 2009
, a South African/ Canadian/ UK co-production directed by Andy Wilson has been nominated at the 24th Annual Gemini Awards, which recognises the best in Canadian English-language television. The 2009 Broadcast Gala will take place on Saturday 14th November 2009 in Calgary, Alberta.
Gemini TrophyThe two-part series has received nine nominations in eight categories, including Best Direction of a Dramatic Program or Mini Series for director Andy Wilson and Best Dramatic Mini Series.
South African cast included veterans Jeremy Crutchley and Fiona Ramsay, supported by Mary-Ann Barlow, Terence Bridgett, Tongayi Arnold Chirisa, Dorothy Ann Gould and Moshidi Motshegwa. The two unwilling fugitive boys were played by Mbongeni Nhlapo and Njabulo Qobose.
Diamonds is produced by South Africa's Philo Pieterse, Alchemy Television and Sienna Films, directed by Andy Wilson and written by David Vainola.

22nd July 2009
Well, that's a slight exageration, but let's face it, you're not likely to find two Emmy nominated Casting Directors working in the same studio all that often! London-based Rachel Freck, nominated for casting the BBC  / WGBH Boston production of "Little Dorrit", spent a busy day in the studio with Christa and producers Hillary Norrish and Jonathan Young.
We enjoyed a very productive day of call backs for "The Sinking of the Laconia" before they jetted back to London.

Getting them to the airport in time was a bit tight, but they did take a moment to lark about with our numbering system.

16th July 2009
Emmy header
"Outstanding Casting For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special

Generation Kill • HBO • Company Pictures and Blown Deadline Productions in association with HBO Films
Alexa L. Fogel, CSA, Casting Director
Christa Schamberger, S.A. Casting Director"

The news arrived from London first, when Roger Charteris, a London agent, phoned with the news shortly after the nominations were announced.
Christa is very pleased to share the nomination with Alexa Fogel, the New York based casting Director on the "Generation Kill". Alexa Fogel is no stranger to the Emmys, having been nominated four times, wining twice for casting "NYPD Blue".
Emmy Statue
The next morning, Christa received another international phone call, which began "Well hello, Fellow Nominee!", from Rachel Freck, nominated in the same category for  "Little Dorrit" (PBS - A co-production of BBC Productions and WGBH Boston). Rachel will be with us in the studio very soon as she and Christa are working together on the casting of  "The Sinking of The Laconia".

Susanna White
has been nominated for her Direction of "Generation Kill".
With "Generation Kil" and  "Little Dorrit" tied at eleven Emmy Nominations each, one way or another, we're looking forward to a great reunion in September.

Christa with Company Pictures Producer Andrea Calderwood (Top Right), Emmy Award winning Alexa Fogel, New York-based Casting Director, (Bottom Left), and Generation Kill Director Susannah White (Eps. 1 to 3) after Director's Call Backs.

30 June 2009
Wit Licht PosterJean vd Velde

"Wit Licht" Director Jean van de Velde popped into the studio recently on his way back from a trip to Uganda. "Wit Licht" (White Light) has been re-named "Silent Army" after being re-cut for a broader international audience following its huge success in Holland. Jean's production stills and self-effacing, hillarious story of the politics of international distribution made for a very entertaining afternoon.

4 June 2009
South African actors take to the streets!

The South African Broadcasting Corporation has been under fire for some time - in-fighting at Board level, resignations complicated by alleged political interference, unwise expenditure and sheer incompetence has led to the national broadcaster into an estimated R700 billion debt. For three years, attempts by a coalition of local Television industry bodies to engage with the Corporation on issues regarding ownership of material have been thwarted by a high-handed attitude and a succession of broken promises.

SABC Protest_548Web.JPGWhen several major “Soapie” producers were not paid for programmes already on air, it became evident that the Corporation itself did not know the extent of its debt to the production industry, and could not commit to a date for payment to be made.

Frustration boiled over recently when, for the first time in the thirty-three year history of TV in South Africa, actors, writers, producers and crew united to take their protest to the streets in a protest march organised by the Television Industry Emergency Coalition.

Research by an industry coalition had estimated that the debt was around R38 million although the acting CEO of the Corporation today admitted to a figure of R60 million! An attempt to blame the crisis on the world economic situation was greeted with jeers of “Three years! Three years! Three years!”

To be continued?

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Agents Judy Phillips and Gaenor Becker with Christa and commercials casting director Galene Lithgow

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Christa gets a hug from agent Kimberley Stark

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Members of SABC management accept the Memorandum of Protest from coalition members Desiree Markgraf and Kid Sithole. (Bottom right)

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At the other end of the country, about three hundred people braved stormy winter weather to picket outside the SABC's regional office on the Cape Town beachfront.

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Cape Town may have had fewer protesters, but they were a lot more creative!

May 2009
Bush Station nears the end of shoot
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There's no escape! We sneaked away for a week end in  the bush and spotted a "Film Afrika" location sign on our way home. Soon we spotted a convoy of trucks at the airport of the small Free State town of Parys and popped in to pay a surprise visit to the set of Bush Station.

Zakhele Mabasa and Attanas Ruvengo, playing rival taxi drivers at the "Loitok" airport in the film, were quite surprised to see Christa on set!
The Douglas DC3 aircraft ZS-DIW (C-47 "Gooney Bird") in the picture is 66 years old and has seen service with the RAF, SAAF, and Namibair.

May 2009
House of Lords screening for Robben Island Football Film
MTAGposter461webMore Than Just A Game, the inspirational story of organized football played among prisoners on Robben Island, had a screening at House Of Lords in London on the12th May 2009, hosted by Baroness Jan Royall, the Leader of the House and Chief Whip Lord Bassett, with producer Anant Singh and co-producer Lord Ted Rowlands in attendance. Lord Rowlands, a Member of the House, facilitated the screening.  Also present was Prof Chuck Korr, author of the book, More Than Just A Game: Soccer vs Apartheid.   The screening ended to thunderous applause from the audience.  More Than Just A Game stars Presley Chweneyagae (Tsotsi), Wright Ngubeni (Generations), Tshepo Maseko (Isidingo) and is directed by Junaid Ahmed.
BBC Film’s Carol Sennett announced that the film will be broadcast on BBC’s main television channel as a lead-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Sony Pictures Entertainment is the worldwide distributor of the film.

MTJAG Pilot shoot in our studio

February 2007

Working on a tight budget, documentary director Junaid Ahmed needed a quiet location in which to interview Robben Island veteran Tony Suze for the pilot of Video Vision Entertainment's More Than Just A Game. This was not the first time our Casting Studio has been used for a Shoot, and probably won't be the last...

Clint Eastwood directs The Untitled Mandela Project
February 2009
Probably the most talked-about movie project in South Africa for the past year! South African Casting for this project started late in 2008, just about the time South Africa shuts down for our major summer holiday! It is probably fair to say that getting the job done in the limited time available would have been almost impossible but for two things: Our audition upload / download site, and the wonderful working relationship between casting director Fiona Weir, her assistant Alice Searby and Christa. How can one not have a good working relationship with such a delightful pair of professionals!
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Christa huddles against a biting Cape evening wind with Fiona Weir (Centre), casting director on Untitled Mandela Project, and her assistant Alice Searby (Left).

Fiona and Alice visited from London during December 2008 to start the hunt for numerous characters, from politicians to several Rugby teams!

Untitled Mandela Project tells  the inspiring story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of  South Africa's Springbok rugby team to help unite the country barely a year after our peaceful but tense transition to democracy. Nelson Mandela's inspired leadership is already a part of South African folklore.

Busy, Busy, Busy!
Our upload page has been used by a dozen productions across the world since it started as a trial in June 2008: TwentyFour, Crusoe, Amelia, Verloren, Angel, Whales, Love, Babies and a Big Heart, Summer in New England, Heaven and Earth, Free Willie SA, and The Untitled Mandela Project among others. Our audition upload / download facility has been indispensable on the The Untitled Mandela Project, allowing Fiona and Christa to stay "on the same page", often across three time zones.
We've also recorded auditions for several visiting actors on behalf of British or American productions. Within hours of being wrapped after a day's shooting in South Africa, an audition for their next movie can be available to a director and a producer on opposite sides of  the world.

Hond se Dinges headed for the local big screen
HondSnarl.jpgFebruary 2009
Hond se Dinges, ("The Dog's Wotsit," ?) shot early in 2008, is due for release in South Africa soon. The film, which is a broad romp in Afrikaans, follows the adventures of a Poor White diamond digger in a small town. Afrikaans language comedies usually do well in South Africa, considering the relatively small potential audience. See our previous posting on the film HERE.
View the trailer on YOUTUBE

January 2009
White Light achieves "Golden Film" status in Holland

White Light, shot partly in Port St. Johns and partly in Uganda, has achieved Golden Film status in Holland. The film, which tells the harrowing story of child soldiers, opened on 11 December on 91 screens across Holland. Within two weeks it had been seen by over 100,000 people, easily qualifying for the award, made by the Netherlands Film Festival and the Netherlands Fund for Film. During the Holiday season, the audience reached 250,000 and White Light was a hot topic on Dutch Blogs.

"Gouden Film" status is awarded to Dutch feature films which achieve ticket sales of 100,000 during their first release. Platinum Film status is awarded for sales of 400,000 tickets, while Diamond status requires 1,000,000 people to see the film.
Wit Licht_Jean van de Velde
In an e-mail to Christa, Director Jean van de Velde says "We had a truly remarkable premiere on December 8th. The  Dutch Royal Family was there. They loved the movie. I was sitting next  to them, and heard both the King and the Queen sob... They both love Africa (The King speaks Swahili quite well) and complimented me extensively on the story, the acting but also on the dignity and the respectful way with which Africa was portrayed. That was a true compliment for me." (Jean van de Velde grew up in East Africa)

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The director also had high praise for Tumelo Sibanda, who plays the most vicious character in the film, yet reduced audiences to tears with his death scene. Congratulations are also due to Tumelo and his on-set tutor, Nanie Taylor - in spite of the weeks of shooting, Tumelo achieved seven distinctions for Matric.

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