Thursday, June 28, 2007

Casting Turn-Ons and Turn-Offs

So here we are...I'm at over 700 headshots and I'm beginning to make calls and drop e-mails (if you've submitted, and you're reading this, know that this will take me a few days so don't freak out yet if you haven't heard from me at this point).

I wanted to drop some tips for actors on submitting their material to filmmakers. Now I'm by no means a professional, so don't take my opinions as gospel. These are simply my personal guidelines that I use when selecting who would proceed to the audition stage...


1. Don't bother sending if your traits don't match the casting submission. I know that somewhere, there's an acting school where they tell you to submit to every casting call you see no matter what. I'm here to tell you . . . DON'T. If you don't match what I'm looking for, I'm dropping you immediately. I'm NOT saving you on file somewhere for future considerations. There's no point for me to do that . . . by the time I get to my next film, your material will be outdated anyway (you might not even be acting anymore). So if I'm casting twenty-something men, I don't want a headshot from a forty-something woman. It's a nuisance and a waste of my time and patience.

2. Get your information right, and please proofread your queries. Again, I realize that actors send as many headshots out per day as possible, but that's no reason to be sloppy. Get the name of the movie right, get the name of the character you want right, and get my name right! It seems like this should go without saying, but you'd be surprised. Mistakes like this aren't grounds for immediate disqualification, but rubbing me the wrong way right off the bat isn't helping your cause.

3. Don't try to fake me us with your headshots. Let's call a spade a spade. If you're a heavy set man, be a heavy set man. Don't send me a headshot where some professional photographer has gone out of his way with make-up and angles and camera tricks to make you look thinner. Be yourself, because you're not fooling anyone. If the casting director wants a blonde for his movie, and you're a redhead who sends him a black and white photo, sooner or later he's going to see that you're a redhead. The second you walk into that audition, the casting crew can see what you really are. And if what they see grossly mismatches what they thought they'd get from your headshot, you're not in a good position.

4. The Internet is public domain. Everything you put on the 'net is up for grabs. This means that you might be googled, or looked up on myspace (sometimes to make sure you didn't violate the rule above). It's unfair, but it's a truth that holds to all occupations, not just acting. Never post anything you wouldn't want a casting director to find.

5. Show up. If you get an audition, show up. Only an emergency should hold you back (and you should still call). From my experience through my job, there are always a few drop-outs. Not only is that unprofessional, but it's also downright rude. A casting person went through many headshots and selected YOU. He could've picked someone else . . . someone who would've shown up. If you want to be an actor, be professional.


1. Personalized notes are great. I love any form of personalized cover letter or note with the headshot. Drop my name, tell me you like my movie idea . . . flattery will get you everywhere with me. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm a sucker for post-it type notes written in pen that are attached to headshots. Since I'm casting for a comic book movie, a few applicants have told me who their favorite characters are. This shows me that you took a little extra time to pursue my project, and that shows the potential for commitment. It's a great start.

2. Give web sites and videos. We live in a digital age. If you drop me a web site, I'll check it out. It only takes a few moments and the more images, the better. Video is also great. I'd love to see you in action. Sometimes, this helps me decide to drop a person from the running before they get to the next stage. That sounds like a negative for the actor, but it's really a plus. Remember, you're not going to fool a casting director. If you act poorly in person, you'll be dropped and you've wasted a trip. If you act poorly in a video, then you can be dismissed earlier and save us all the time and trouble.

3. Be cool. If you're applying for a small time Long Island movie, you haven't hit it big yet. This means you're in no position to be a diva. Be nice to the casting director and film director. Make your e-mails friendly. Come to the audition with a positive personality. Sell yourself. Be a person that we'd want to spend a lot of time hanging around with (because eventually, we will be).

That's about all I can think of right now, but maybe I'll add more over time.

By the way, a good place to cast (if you can't get a theater or school) is a meeting room in a hotel. You might be lucky like me and get a decked out one for a few hundred a day, and they'll set it up exactly to meet your needs.

'Till next time, folks!

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