Things To Consider When Interacting With Casting Directors

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Casting directors gravitate toward their job out of a genuine love and appreciation for actors, and they’re quick to assure performers that they’re rooting for their career success. Casting directors continually check in with actors’ digital profiles and performances to see how they’re progressing over time, and they make notes about talent for potential future projects.

Knowing how much actors depend on casting directors for career opportunities, it’s important they observe proper etiquette when interacting with casting professionals. Although individual casting directors have different work styles and preferences, there are general practices to keep in mind. Here are some tips for interacting in an agreeable, empowered manner with casting directors.

Respect casting’s policies regarding unsolicited phone calls or walk-ins.

For every role that comes their way, a casting director commonly sees between 60 to 100 actors. And they’re often juggling searches for multiple roles simultaneously. In other words, casting is a very busy world that demands long hours with tight deadlines and a lot of pressure. So if a casting office says it doesn’t accept unsolicited phone calls or walk-ins, it means it. If actors need to occasionally contact a casting director, they should email him or her on a weekday, keeping the correspondence concise, and taking time to correct any spelling errors. If you’re new to acting, don’t expect to contact a casting director about how to get an agent. The first step to becoming a working actor is by gaining experience with acting and refining your craft.

Audition questions to avoid:

Oftentimes, casting provides the answers to basic questions before audits, such as providing a designated callback date. They do this specifically because they want to avoid wasting time by having to answer the same question over and over again. So pay close attention to all their communications before auditioning so that you don’t end up asking something they fully expect you to already know. Also, if you have a relevant and appropriate question to ask, avoid prefacing it with, “Can I ask you a question?” This query can rub casting the wrong way, because even if the casting director responds in the affirmative, that one inquiry was already used up with this unnecessary question, and now the actor is going in for a second one. It’s better to cut to the chase and ask the real question right from the start—the one that’s most important. Another kind of question to avoid is, “What kind of emotion would you like the character to have in the fourth line?” This is an artistic question, one that actors are being hired to make. Make a creative choice and commit to it boldly, come what may.

Beneficial audit questions to ask:

It’s okay to ask direct questions about, say, the job’s pay rate, which has the potential to affect if you want to make a submission. Another direct, clear, concise question might be, “The role asks for a specific ethnicity, but no preference is given about an accent. Do you want me to use an accent?” or “Can I play with the material?” or “Can I add a tag at the end?”

Keep your package up to date.

Make sure your Casting Frontier profile is current, including your resume, headshots, demo reel, audio sample, special talents, and link to your website, if any. Don’t forget to stay on top of your IMDb page as well. Give yourself full credit for everything you’ve earned to this point, and make sure casting can easily access this valuable information.

Read and follow all the details of the submission instructions.

This includes how casting wants you to label your work. It’s not a great introduction when you’re inconveniencing a casting director with having to relabel your auditions. It’s surprising how often talent take themselves out of the running because they demonstrate what appears to be a lack of interest in the required submission protocol. Show that you’re a professional who is responsive to what is asked of you.

Refrain from commenting on your own performance.

At virtual or in-person audits, there’s nothing that gets under casting’s skin more than hearing actors judge their own performances. Avoid saying, “That was a bad take,” “I can do it again,” or “I can try something else.” Such statements can be interpreted as “There’s nothing worthwhile about my performance,” and it communicates a lack of self-confidence. It’s casting’s job to evaluate your performance, not yours. What makes actors so compelling is that they are human, with all the vulnerabilities that come along with that. Believe in yourself, in your ability to grow, keep preparing, and let casting tell you when you need another take. There are exceptions, however. Some casting directors will grant another chance, say, if you’re convinced you’ve really blown it, and you’re convinced there’s no chance of being considered unless you try it again. But remember, if you’re a great fit for the role, casting can certainly overlook a stutter or stumble.

Come with a generous spirit, ready to give, instead of to be validated.

It’s understandable that actors may feel a need to be validated especially when they’ve just poured their hearts out before a group of casting executives. Sometimes performers may be tempted to ask, “How did I do?” Or perhaps you’re auditioning at a time when you’re experiencing financial stress and thus you feel like you really need to land the gig. In either of these scenarios, an actor might inadvertently communicate neediness. Convert this frame of mind by making it a priority to come prepared to the audition, ready to make choices, and bring abundance, eagerness to give.

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