Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Casting an impression is more important than getting the job ...

Casting directors are an interesting, new breed these days. In the new landscape that is now the business of acting, there just isn’t the time there used to be for casting directors to get to know the pool of new, undiscovered talent out there. They have enough stress remembering the pool of working actors they already know. It’s not their fault; it’s just the nature of how the casting business has to function.

Time is of the essence, especially for the casting of a weekly series. Casting directors have to rely on three primary sources for information about qualified talent to audition for the roles they have available: the Breakdown Services, existing relationships with agents and managers, and their own files of actors they have met and /or cast before who made a great impression on them during the casting process.

I address some of these issues in chapter 5 of The Business of Acting (“A Casting Director’s Perspective”), but it bears repeating. Actors who get the opportunity to audition all too often focus on getting the job and not on doing a good job in that process.

Let me clarify. The actor who is so focused on preparing for an audition, but who is unpleasant (or perceived by the casting director to be unpleasant) will still get their chance up at bat – this time. But the residual impact of their negative behavior can haunt them long after they have left the casting director’s office.

Anyone can book a job, really. Eventually, you will book. But, getting called back by a casting director who auditioned you for one project and who wants to see you for another project (or another episode) they are casting is a huge deal.

As hard as it is to get a professional audition in this business, it’s tougher to get seen twice – unless the impression you made the first time was one of total preparedness, pleasantness and professionalism all around.

My casting director friends have told me stories of actors who have been pleasant enough in the room with them for an audition, but who were rude or outright mean to their assistants in the waiting room. This kind of behavior doesn’t go unnoticed – and, believe me, at the end of the casting day, that assistant is giving a “bigger picture” view of the day to their boss. Unprofessionalism in the waiting room or to anyone in the process of the audition (whether it be to an assistant or another actor), will get you on the casting director’s always growing list of “Never To Be Seen Again” – and those lists really exist.

Today’s lesson: Booking a job is one thing; building a relationship and a reputation is another. Head’s up on everything associated with the audition process. Even a great actor can be harmed by a bad attitude. It happens every day in the business of acting.

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Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. I learned all about this the hard way. I should have read your book six months ago. Thanks for all the advice and support you give us actors.

Anonymous said...

Would you please have a talk with my manager? Better yet, will you represent me?! Thank you for putting into words what I have been feeling all along.