Casting directors love to build their databases and get to know actors. However, they do have preferences as to how performers contact them. Here are some valuable insights from three casting directors as they share how to most effectively reach out to them.
Pay attention to casting’s communications.
First of all, when there’s a casting call, follow the precise directions that are included on that post, which detail exactly how to get in touch. Make sure not to reach out for information that’s already been provided to talent, as doing so is not helpful to those involved in the casting process.
Please… no drop-ins.
Drop-ins are not convenient for casting directors as they tend to their busy workloads. Generally speaking, casting needs to set aside time to concentrate on the actors who contact them. While each has a unique style of working, casting directors Hannah Marie Williams, Nikki Meadows, and Andrea Clark are all in agreement: the best way to contact them is via email.
The benefits of emailing.
Clark explains, “We like emails because we set some time aside to look at those emails once every couple of weeks.” Williams agrees, “We keep all of those emails aside, and then maybe it’s an hour a day, maybe it’s an afternoon in a week, or a fortnight, we will take the time to go through those emails one by one and start filing away anybody we find interesting or taking a look at some of the work that they suggested we look at.” Meadows is a fan of email to find out what actors are currently up to, adding, “I tend to deal with the information better…I can make some notes, I can file you away. I’m concentrating, really.”
Contact via social media isn’t convenient.
Meadows enjoys searching for players via social media, but she finds that being contacted through websites like Twitter or Instagram is not convenient. “It just doesn’t yield such great results,” she states. A professionally written email grabs her attention much more effectively. Meadows adds, “I prefer to not be tagged on things. And I know that probably sounds silly because it’s such a small thing, but actually when you’re getting tagged a lot—and if you’re like me, and you forget to turn your notifications off—it can feel quite relentless actually, and it might come at the wrong time.” Similarly, Clark explains that contact outside of email tends to be less effective: “I’m less able to control when I view [actor communications]…It could be that we’re scrolling through Twitter or Instagram while watching [TV] in the evening or having our lunch, and that isn’t necessarily when we want to be discovering new actors and finding out about you.”
Use casting directors’ public social media wisely.
Clark describes the reasons why performers might want to check out casting websites, saying, “It’s great as research and a tool for finding out what’s going on and maybe liking a tweet or commenting on it. But it isn’t a way of building a professional relationship with a casting director, in my opinion.” Actors are welcome to “follow” and add their voice to the public discourse, but should always make sure to use wording that matches what they’d say to a casting director in person.
Have a reason to reach out.
There are many reasons actors may wish to contact casting directors. Perhaps it’s to introduce themselves as new talent on the scene; maybe they have new headshots or made significant changes to their reel; perhaps they’re featured in a television series and want to share the dates it’s airing. Whatever the reason, Williams urges talent to plan out what exactly they want to say: “Be really clear about what you’re essentially trying to sell about yourself. Is there a show you want to invite someone to? Have you got a recent credit that you’re really excited about?” She emphasizes, “Think about what it is that you want to put in that email and make sure it’s there at the top.”
Keep it short, specific, and concise.
Keeping an email short does not mean simply emailing, “I’m an actor,” and including a headshot. That’s too short. Williams advises to write, for example, “I saw you in a specific interview and heard you’re casting for a certain project, and I think I’d be a good fit for the role because…” And then offer a headshot, resume , and reel with contact information. Clark adds, “Don’t be afraid to use some bullet points. Make it easy for us to read.”
Frequency of emails.
Clark reveals, “If an actor is emailing me about four or five times a year, that’s about right. I like them to have a reason for getting in touch. So letting me know that they’re in a new show, they’ve got photographs, something’s coming up, or they’re in a play with an invite. Have a hook so we know why you’re getting in touch with us this particular time.” Williams says reaching out once every two or three months feels about right.
Links are preferred over attachments.
Sifting through emails “is a really quick process,” Williams explains. “So if you’re attaching things to the email, that can slow down that process and it might mean that we go, ‘Oh, I’ll come back to that email later,’ and then that email might never be gotten back to . So always add links—add links to your online profiles. And if you are going to attach, make sure that it’s viewable within the email—your headshot, for instance.” And make sure any links work properly.
Please, no multiple modes of communication.
Don’t send multiple emails or multiple modes of contact, Williams urges. “Casting directors tend to have a really good memory for names and faces. And if you’re applying for every single job when it’s not suitable to you, or if you’re sending messages every week, you might stick out in someone’s mind for the wrong reason.”
It’s worth a shot.
While casting may make an effort to reply to emails, take heart if you receive no response. Williams assures talent: “It’s worth doing because the amount of times that we’ve had the emails in, and they’ve been right at that perfect time for something we’re working on has been surprising to me how often that happens. But also, we have our own system for filing away people that we think are interesting.”
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