So you are a trendy and attractive 20 something actor who also models in NYC or LA and you get that hopeful phone call from your agent. The good news is, you have a casting…. The bad news is it’s for a young mom/dad in their mid-30′s oh and it’s in 1 hour.
You think to yourself…”well it’s a job right?”.
So what do you do..? You stop and reschedule your day and somehow quickly race to your bedroom (if in NYC that’s like 2 feet) and quickly toss through your clothing only to pick out the most straight-laced kakhi and polo shirt you can find and quickly toss it on. Or you are out and you stop off and charge an outfit as quick as you can on your mom’s credit card she lets you use at either Kohl’s or Old Navy (keeping the receipts knowing you will never wear this outfit again… yeah – guess again). Then you pull out your trusty smartphone and map the address as you walk out the door with headshot in hand.
After about 45 minutes of racing across the town nearly killing yourself for that $1,000 job that is sure to be the one that will finally set you apart (you try to convince yourself) you arrive at the casting office. You attempt to compose yourself and make sure you look as old as you can. Oh, let me rephrase as middle-American young parent you can knowing you have no idea what it’s truly like to even be a parent. You ride the elevator up to whatever floor your casting is only to be greeted by a hallway full of about 40 other would-be actors like yourself, but only 10-15 years older than you. They all turn and look at the commotion you make as you race off the elevator and stumble into the hall. Each of them look at you with a certain level of disdain as they see you are clearly younger with that 20′s glow and more attractive in your youthful preppy looking clothing.
Guess what… you just wasted your afternoon. Welcome to the world of haphazard casting calls.
But something can and should be done about this dilemma and fortunately it’s slowly beginning to take shape but not nearly as quick as it could or should be. Now don’t get me wrong because casting directors have it hard. They do have a lot of stress and you are only as good as your last job. So they are always trying to improve what they do and there is no “school” on how to run castings and with so many being jaded actors who gave up on their dream there is an automatic chip on their shoulder when you walk in.
So here are 10 ways I see casting directors dropping the ball and ideas of how to fix it:
1. Poor pre-screening of potential actors. Instead take that extra bit of time to really look at who you are calling in and don’t waste their time or yours especially if you think to yourself, “well maybe?” Everyone you should call in should somehow be a most likely and not have to come back 3 times for a $1000 spot. That time costs actors money.
2. Don’t waste actors time. Nothing is more annoying to any actor who shows up and sees a dysfunctional casting. Not only do they work for a living most likely from tips but hopefully this job too. So now you just set them up for failure from the immediate frustration they feel walking into a hallway of 50 others waiting for the same $1,000 job. Whatever you do, avoid open times and open calls. It never works. Oh and why are you casting at any time before 9am? Seriously have you known any actor who is even ready at that time of day?
3. Stop using only the same 2-5 agencies. I know you have friends and you “like” certain people but don’t you realize there are more actors out there? Hello there are like 100 agencies and only going to your same handful limits the possibility of you actually building your career through exposing yourself to more talent.
4. Stop doing open-night casting network events if you have no intention of actually making it beneficial for the actors. Nothing is more annoying to an actor to know they are paying you $100 to sit there and blow smoke up their butts only to realize they are never going to even get called in by you because you are doing this network class just for rent money.
5. Plan out your actual casting process. Nothing is more frustrating to an actor who has to deal with an intern and chaotic casting director. There is something to be said about a casting director who has their own act together and is organized. Actors don’t mind waiting a little if there is no chaos.
6. Be courteous to the actors. What blows my mind most about this industry is how shallow and mean people can be, especially in the casting process. I have come across some really nasty casting directors who forget actor’s are people too. Oh and guess what… they may be in a position to one-day hire you. Not all actors stay actors. Hello Ron Howard.
7. Get the “TYPE” right. Nothing to an actor is more disconcerting than walking into a casting with people all 10-15 years older than them. Don’t forget actors all lie about their age and think they play younger than they are. It’s because they have too. So realize that man or woman who is going in for the 35 year-old is likely closer to 50. So when a true 35 walks in he/she looks way too young. Get it right the first time or don’t call in real 35′s or anything less than that if you are not looking for that.
8. Clearly explain the breakdown for the roll. Don’t tell an actor they are in a wedding party and not expect them to show up in a gown or tuxedo if it’s meant to be the rehearsal dinner scene. Actors hate showing up to a casting and know they look like an idiot because their agent didn’t get the information from you right. So if you are gonna do a casting get the right information to the actors.
9. Do unto others. It’s an amazing concept I know. But really, don’t flip out on an actor for being a few minutes late when you have no problem making actors wait as much as an hour especially without apologizing or explaining a reason why. Remember, “life happens” and the actor is there. Being late sometimes is unavoidable.
10. Eat and call people on your own time. When an actor is in the room, it is and should be “their” time. They killed themselves to get there, not so they can wait while you talk on the phone or eat your lunch. That is one of the most rude things and distracting things any actor has to put up with in the casting process. You wouldn’t like it if they took a call in the middle of a casting session, so don’t do it to them.
Well that’s it for now. Remember actors, it’s not always your fault if you don’t book the job. Sometimes the gate-keepers out there just don’t know what they are doing. Be glad some actually do.
Thanks for reading, Good luck out there and break a leg!
Founder – The Erimac Group