For “American Honey,” directed by Andrea Arnold, Ms. Venditti spent long stretches of time scouting in Panama City Beach, Florida. The time out in the field, and the footage and experience gathered, became a de facto part of the film. “What it did is it informed all the other departments,” she said. “It created an environment on set that almost made it feel like a documentary.”
Riley Keough, one of the film’s stars, sent in several self-taped audition videos before eventually being called in by Ms. Venditti, whose audition process was new to her: casual conversation, personal questions, hand-held camera, movement.
“It feels like you’re shooting a scene,” said Ms. Keough, calling in from a set in New Orleans, before pausing to receive a Covid test swabbing, then adding, “It feels like the way auditioning should be.”
Ms. Venditti takes that same unconventional process regardless of the aspirant’s experience level. Angus Cloud, now Fezco on “Euphoria,” was discovered on the street by one of her scouts. Ms. Venditti loosened him up on camera with questions about his life and taught him to improv. “She kind of, like, just gives off that family, that aunt vibe, you know? That motherly vibe,” Mr. Cloud said in his now-signature wheezy purr, calling in from the back porch of his Los Angeles home. “I got a lot of love for her.”
Ms. Venditti utilizes a network of trusted scouts, but finding raw talent in the wild is an ever more elusive game. Thanks to social media, everyday people are thrust into the role of performers, putting themselves forward at all times, hoping to bait the algorithms and, in turn, your eyes.
“The person that wants to be found, in my experience, is never who I want to find,” Ms. Venditti said.