Recently, one of my Casting colleagues lamented that she wished actors knew how hard we work for them. It made me realize that there’s a whole mountain of activity we Casting Directors do that actors (and other industry folk) really aren’t privy to. NOTE: This post is not for the sake of accolades or martyrdom […]
Let’s talk about rejection. [Insert sad trombone noise.] You all know that if you’re an artist, rejection is part of the gig. And even though you may be FULLY aware of that fact, every “no” can still feel personal. At best, rejection will (always) sting a little, and at worst, will feel utterly crushing. Now […]
Recently, one of my Casting colleagues lamented that she wished actors knew how hard we work for them. It made me realize that there’s a whole mountain of activity we Casting Directors do that actors (and other industry folk) really aren’t privy to.
So here is a brief list, specific to the things we do to help actors get the job. By no means is it limited to the below, nor do we do all of these things on a daily basis. It also doesn’t include the obvious: run auditions/watch tapes, provide direction, etc.:
1. Edit your reel/self-tape/audition clips to best present you to producers.
2. Pull photos of you from any/everywhere on the internet that are character/world appropriate to help people with their imaginations.
3. Make collages of you with other cast members for the sake of resemblance and/or to help people see a fuller picture of the beautiful people in contention.
4. Re-style you in the audition room, (change your hair, remove your jewelry, have you put on our jacket, etc.) to better reflect the character.
5. Download your tapes and reels/Upload your tapes and reels/Sync clips/Check that the video plays/Re-order your scenes so the first clip up is the strongest/Repeat – all day, every day.
6. Write blog posts/tweet/do panels/teach classes to help demystify the process and give you confidence when you go to audition.
7. GUSH about you to our producers and to your reps.
8. Liaise between studio/network execs, our producers, your reps CONSTANTLY so everyone is looped in and nobody loses an opportunity or an actor they love.
9. Look up flights online to prove to our line producer that there IS a way to get you to set in time to wardrobe/shoot.
10. Provide constructive, workshop-like notes for re-tapes when the director says, “Just have them tape again,” and leaves it at that.
11. Advocate for more roles to be open to any gender, any ethnicity, any physical ability.
12. Provide other deeply talented, realistic options when our wide-eyed, passionate director says they want Anthony Hopkins to do a scale role.
13. Keep files of actors FOREVER (online, hard copy, in our brains, etc.) so we can keep tabs on our favorite people and see them as often as possible.
14. Work with our production and your other project to make sure you can logistically work on both and that everyone is protected from flight delays/weather issues/etc.
15. Push production for more money for you.
16. Strenuously recommend fewer pages of sides for the first rounds of auditions.
17. Make sure you have all the information possible to succeed when you go in to meet/read, including, but not limited to parking instructions, all producer names and/or credits, word pronunciations, a page of terminology and references when you can’t have a full script, a phone call/audition/meeting with us beforehand to answer questions and so you know you have an advocate in the room.
18. Put our feelings in a box when we are having a super shitty day because we know that you get your energy from us in the audition room.
19. Show up on a Saturday because we KNOW you are the right person and that’s the only day you have available to read/meet before leaving town.
20. Don’t mention the things on this list because it’s part of our job and we don’t think of any of this as out of the ordinary.
**Photo courtesy of one very special post-pilot season affair, hosted by the always-wonderful Yesi Ramirez, where a bunch of us stressed Casting folk got to let loose and show off our goofy sides.**
Let’s talk about rejection. [Insert sad trombone noise.]
You all know that if you’re an artist, rejection is part of the gig. And even though you may be FULLY aware of that fact, every “no” can still feel personal. At best, rejection will (always) sting a little, and at worst, will feel utterly crushing.
Now that we’re through pilot season, (also known as the time of year when “no” is most heavily employed,) let me help put those feelings into perspective:
“No” is not failure; it’s simply, “Not this time.”
My brilliant mother has been my #1 cheerleader and emotional guide as I’ve faced rejection in my career. (And just like you, I’ve endured PLENTY. Solidarity, people.) She recently wrote an article wherein she says, “Rejection isn’t because someone doesn’t like you. It’s because they like something/someone else.” (Emphasis mine.)
When it comes to industry rejection, this is WHOLLY accurate. If you aren’t cast in a role, it’s because the team liked somebody else more. And someday, if you work at your craft and behave professionally, YOU will be the somebody else they like more. In the meantime, you’ll face rejection. And in that, you’re never alone. Only one person can be cast per role. That is a single, solitary “yes” to a heaping pile of “no’s.”
The best way to manage the underlying negativity of that fact is to hold on to a little perspective. I’ve had actors reach out to me, concerned that they’ve been pinned/released for the same Casting office multiple times. They’re worried that because they aren’t having those pins turn into bookings that they MUST be doing something wrong, and surely the Casting office will eventually stop seeing them. But realistically, EVERY pin is a major victory. Their perspective has gotten skewed by the feeling of rejection. Celebrate all the victories (big and small) you achieve while on your path, because those are the yes’s you need to keep coming back to this crazy business.
I’ll finish with this:
Last year, Dave Annable did a pilot. The pilot got picked up to series (yay!) but Annable did not (womp womp.) He wrote a (now famously) thoughtful post about it wherein he celebrates the achievement of so many and forces himself to move on. Here’s a brief snippet, but make sure you read the full post for a true lesson of grace while facing massive disappointment:
“Learning to deal with failure is one of the most important lessons you’ll deal with in your life. Guess what? Failure is mandatory. It’s growth. It’ll never stop. It’s where all the good shit happens that makes you a better person when you are open to seeing the right perspective.”
Hold on to that perspective, my friends. It’s all part of the job.
It’s a stressful time of year. Many of us cling to whatever form of sanity (read: wine) to help us survive until mid-April. But as you all know, the more we let anxiety and stress into our bodies, the harder it is to function. So here are a few helpful mantras or mindsets to aid your sanity this pilot season, and beyond.
Remember these buzzwords: ENCOURAGEMENT, ENTHUSIASM, PASSION, TEAMWORK, GRATITUDE.
And here’s how you can apply them, (these are just a few examples. There are MANY ways you can connect these to your careers and lives):
1. ENCOURAGEMENT: “Casting WANTS me to be the one!”
- Seriously, we are ON YOUR SIDE. If you are the one, that means that A. You’ve validated our creative choice to see you in the first place, and B. Our job is done (at least on that character.) Walk in to every Casting office and remember (no matter how cranky we are,) we are ROOTING FOR YOU. Feel the love, y’all.
2. ENTHUASIAM: “I love a challenge!”
- Pilot season is hard, the audition process (any time of year!) can be stressful, things move quickly, sides change at the last minute, self-tapes are due in a matter of hours, etc. Prepare for these opportunities as if you’re running towards a hurdle; put your heart and energy into it and then fly, my friends. The immediate moment after can feel like a MAJOR “fuck yeah!! I did it!”
3. PASSION: “Every audition is an opportunity for me to do what I love.”
- Sure, auditioning isn’t the best part of being an actor, but every chance you get to sink your teeth into a new script, embody a new character and perform or workshop a scene is a big win. Enjoy the ride, my friends.
4. TEAMWORK: “Every Casting office that sees me sets the course for a new relationship or strengthens an old one.”
- It’s a business of relationship folks! If you go into a room or send in a tape and nail that read while behaving/communicating professionally, you will UNDOUBTEDLY audition for that Casting team again. Strengthen the connection, make Casting fall in love with your talent and attitude, and you will be back before you know it.
5. GRATITUDE: “I’m grateful I have a strong team that works hard to get me these opportunities.”
- In signing you, your reps have said “yes, I believe in your talent.” They’re working hard, doing their part to provide opportunities so you can go shine. Remember to acknowledge them in your heart, AND out loud.
Work hard and stay positive, my people! You got this.
As we head in to the craziest time of year, here are a few things to remember (in no particular order):
1. Practice patience with appointments and sessions. Appointments or self-tape requests may not be flooding in yet. Stay calm and read this blog post.
And please be patient with Casting when we run an hour or more behind during our sessions. We are trying to spend ample time with each actor and sometimes have to step out for various reasons. If you get in a time bind, instead of silently (or loudly) freaking out, just tell someone and we’ll either squeeze you in with the permission of others or reschedule you.
2. Be kind to the casting assistant. These amazing people work SO hard, are multitasking their brains out, are wildly underpaid, and they are always our first line of defense, often manning the overflowing waiting room. They face the abuse of cranky, restless, annoyed, late/about-to-be-late-to-another-appt actors all while trying to do their jobs. Be good to these people. They could be the future of our craft and they might have long memories for being mistreated by guests in our office. (Plus, karma yo.)
3. If you’re sick, reschedule. ‘Tis the season for the sniffles (or worse.) A sickness can FLY through a Casting office, (we work in tiny rooms, seeing dozens of people a day. Sh*t spreads FAST.) And if WE get sick during pilot season, we get zero days off to recuperate. So if you feel even a WHIFF of an illness, stay home, rest and reschedule or self-tape. Everyone will appreciate it.
4. Don’t be offended if we tell you we’re not doing one of the scenes you prepped. We don’t like having to do this… we know you spent time preparing it and we know you’ll give us sad puppy dog eyes if we pull it at the last moment. But things change RAPIDLY during pilot season. We may discover that the tone of a scene is redundant (we get the same idea from another scene,) the scene may have gotten cut and no one feels the need to keep it in the audition rotation, the character may have changed and that scene no longer reflects the role… If we pull a scene, there’s a creative/logistical reason and it’s never because you’re not a worthy-enough actor to read an extra few pages.
5. No excuses, please. We know it’s a busy time of year and you may have four auditions a day, all over town. We know you also have lives and families and day jobs, etc. We are also fully aware that sometimes we give you material only a few hours before your audition. Walk in to every pilot audition with a GOOD attitude and an open mind. If you’re there, ready and willing to play and have prepped to the best of your abilities with the time you were given, then we’re all going to have a good time.
6. A self-tape request is JUST as valuable as an in-person audition. This and many other important things can be further extrapolated from this blog post.
7. If you are given a script, read it. It has become increasingly rare for scripts, particularly drama scripts, to be sent out for auditions. (We know this is frustrating. It drives us crazy, too.) If you are the lucky soul who receives a script along with your sides, we expect you to read it. Nothing is more frustrating to have provided all of that wonderful information and have actors come in and say they don’t really know what’s going on because they didn’t have time to read the script. (Wanna know why our session is backed up? We are CONSTANTLY providing context/backstory to actors because they haven’t read or weren’t given a script.)
8. Stay in town! (Unless you book a gig/have a family emergency.) Seriously. This is 100% NOT the time to take a vacation/extended weekends in places that have bad cell/internet reception. (Sundance falling right in the midst of pilot season is the BANE of every CD’s existence.) If you need further explanation on this topic, speak to your reps. I’m sure they’ll have plenty to say.
9. It is ABSOLUTELY cool to share your passion if you love a script or really resonate with a character. Actors will often apologize for being effusive about a script/role. We LOVE that feedback! It validates OUR creative choice to be part of that project! Plus, we pass that feedback along to our writer and producers and it helps make for a very bright spot during a very stressful time. Don’t ever apologize for sharing your true passion or fighting for an opportunity.
10. It’s not ok to purposely show up several hours early for your in-person audition.
Mistakes happen, especially when you’re juggling so many appointments. But if you deliberately show up to our office two hours early because you were “close by and thought we could squeeze you in,” it can throw off our whole day. (Even TWO actors showing up for the morning session when they were scheduled for the afternoon could mean that we don’t eat lunch that day.) If you need to change your appointment time, have your reps call and we will find a time that works for everybody.
And one more for the road…
11. Pilot season doesn’t define you as an actor. Say it with me: “PILOT SEASON DOES NOT DEFINE YOU AS AN ACTOR.” Repeat as needed.
Go get ’em, pals.