Mike Fenton, Director of hundreds of movies and TV shows including classics such as ChinatownAnd the American GraffitiAnd the One of them flew over the cuckoo’s nestAnd the Bad news carryAnd the Norma RayAnd the The Godfather: Part TwoAnd the FoolsAnd the ETAnd the Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost ArchAnd the Blade RunnerAnd the Back to the future And the Chaplin Died. He was 85 years old. Fenton also co-founded what became American Casting Association In 1982.
Steven Spielberg has worked on many projects with Fenton as a director and producer including The Sugarland Express, the director’s first feature. Spielberg was among the first to influence Fenton’s death. Among other things, Fenton is remembered as an ardent defender of the actors he cast.
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Working with Mike Fenton was like working in a candy store – he made a blast. His strong support for the actors was legendary, and after landing a part, hardly any actor’s smile was as wide as Mike’s. Not only did he support the actors, he also waged the Crusades. And he was a really good actor himself, always reading dialogue off-camera to create energy and mojo for the person reading the part. Like the actors he defended, Mike loved his role – and those around him loved him so much, and I’m going to miss him so much.
Fenton’s advocacy extended to those in his profession, too. In 1982, he co-founded the American Association of Acting Directors, which later became the American Casting Association.
“In 1980, we were the only major movie-making group that didn’t have a union,” he said in a 2019 interview for the CSA Archival Project. “There were a number of people who decided they didn’t want a union. But David Rubin is a genius, and he was able to. [mid-2000s] Almost individually to convince filmmakers that they need a guild. And now I think the older directors are realizing what I was talking about as I was screaming for the union in 1980. I hope they like it as much as I like because it’s so important. “
Professionally, Fenton earned 11 CSA Career Award nominations and two wins, both for the miniseries. He was also awarded the Hoyt Bowers Award by CSA in 1989 for his lifetime achievement. This award is not conferred on a group of works only, but also for “Excellence in the selection of actors” and “Outstanding contributions to the profession of casting actors”.
Fenton has been accomplished on television, too. Along with several movies and TV series, Fenton presented a series of 1960s classics including that girlAnd the Gomer Pyle: USMC And the The Andy Griffith Show. Fenton was a co-producer on I’m spying He cast seven episodes of the hit show.
The co-chairs of the Canadian Space Agency, Russell Boast and Rich Minto, issued the following statement after news of Fenton’s death:
The American Casting Association is mourning the death of co-founder Mike Fenton. His remarkable accomplishments and remarkable work in raising awareness and appreciation for the casting craft define his legacy in the entertainment industry. The Canadian Space Agency expresses its love and support for his dear family and friends.
Watch our 2019 CSA chat with Mike Fenton below.