Category Archives: Casting Director

What is a Casting Director Looking For?

Written by Terry Berland | for Casting Networks

I like reading blogs about the industry. I wish I had time to read them all. A blog that comes up on occasion, not written by a casting director, tries to solve the big mystery of “What Is A Casting Director Looking For?” The question always revolves in and around the performance. So since I’m a casting director, I thought it would be a great idea for me to answer that question

I think my answer might disappoint you. I don’t believe anyone can answer that question. Why?  Because for both theatrical and commercial, the casting director is looking for you to bring us a performance with creative choices that makes the character come alive. I can’t spell out what creative choices are.

Having said that, I can answer the question in a different way and I can give you a list of what casting directors are looking for.

Good actors. Casting directors are only as good as the actors they bring in to audition. Bring creative choices to your performance that make the character come alive.

Do not give a neutral performance. Any good actor knows that and would never deliver a neutral performance. Working out in acting classes will bring you discoveries every week that you can deliver with confidence.

Reliability. This business is built on trust. We need actors that show up for their appointments and bookings well prepared. In other words if we have sent you scripts or sides along with the audition, be familiar with your lines. If we have referenced a subject, TV show, or anything else, do your research.

Easy To Work With Actors. We are impressed with actors who are in a good mood, happy with what they are doing and happy to be given the moments to perform in the audition.

Up To Date Photos and Resume. You must look like your photo. Maintain your resume every time there is a change.

Honesty. It’s a waste of your time and the casting director’s time if you are not telling the truth or exaggerating. If you say you do an accent well, you most do it well. Confer with fellow actors or coaches for a reality check.

Good reels. You need a demo of your on camera and voice over acting (if you do voice overs). If you are reading this and don’t have a reel yet, this should be a goal that you are working towards.

In conclusion, work on your acting in your classes and get the best that you can be.  Blow us away with your choices and performance. Make us laugh, cry, feel compassion, feel something….. and give us goose bumps. Those who study commercial acting technique with me know I have a goose-bump-read body meter. When someone “gets it” the better the read, my goose bumps travel up and down my arms for quite a while. In an audition, make the goose bump scale go way high and leave the room feeling great.

If you want to sharpen up on your commercial acting technique, follow this link to Terry Berland’s Commercial Acting workshop.

Veteran L.A. Casting Director Terry Berland On Helping Actors Make The Connection

Written by Kurtis Bright for NYCastings website

Most of the time, casting directors have very specific areas they focus on: commercial, film, or television, for instance. Especially when it comes to voiceover versus on-camera work, most CDs do one or other — rarely both.

But Terry Berland of Berland Casting in Los Angeles isn’t your typical casting director.  A New Yorker born and bred, Berland got her start working in advertising on Madison Avenue, cutting her teeth casting both the actors to be used on camera in agency-produced spots, as well as those who would do the voiceover. By the time that kind of in-house commercial casting had started to decline, Berland had climbed to the top of the profession, heading up casting at Madison Avenue ad powerhouse BBDO Worldwide.

So it made perfect sense that she would continue casting commercials, opting to head out West to open up and partner in running the commercial division of Liberman Hirschfeld Casting for a time before opening her own shop. It also made sense that she would continue casting both voice and on-camera talent, as she has done for the past 25 years, and continues to do out of her Wilshire Boulevard offices.

When she’s not casting projects like “Invader Zim,” or “Whining Low,” Berland enjoys helping out actors by teaching high-quality classes and dispensing her accumulated wisdom from sitting behind the table in thousands of casting sessions through her book, “Breaking Into Commercials.”

She was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to chat and offer some thoughts for actors.

On The Relationship Between Casting Directors And Actors:

Casting directors are only as good as the actors they bring in. So an actor needs to feel very much a part of the process, equal to the casting director. They should come in with the attitude: ‘I’m here to solve your problem. [I] have a creative choice, and it’s my way of solving your problem. Your problem is that you want to find the right person to make this character come alive.’ So maybe a big mistake is for an actor to walk into a casting and not feel like a part of the process. A big part of the process.

On The Similarities And Differences Between Voice And On-Camera Acting:

A similarity for the actors is you have to connect. And obviously there’s different techniques. There’s techniques for connecting on camera: for on-camera it’s like a short scene. For voiceover, you have to connect also, so that’s similar. The difference with voice acting is, because you’re only hearing the voice, the actor has to know how to subtly change things, and convey their message with a lot of nuances in their read. In on-camera you have the visual to help the message along, but with voiceover you only have your voice. There’s transitions in copy: maybe you start out bright, then there’s a discovery, then there’s an invitation to do something, and then a result. And that all has to come from nuances in your voice.

On Teaching:

I’ve been teaching for years. I love educating. I teach on-camera based on short scene study.  Voice-over is based on fundamental acting techniques too. The method I use is proven; people book more, get more callbacks, get agents. So it’s very satisfying. We just have to be very, very clear, when we’re a casting director that they’re coming to learn from us, and they’re not coming to audition. It’s teaching.  The rules that we follow to teach are very strict in Los Angeles.

On Giving A Good Audition:

Auditioning well is based on acting. The biggest mistake is not realizing they need to be an actor. Even when it comes to, ‘Slate your name and tell me something about yourself,’ it takes a certain way. In commercials, you need to look at that camera and be open and friendly and decide what you’re going to say with a personality. If its an improv they have to know how to do a commercial improv.

On Being Needy As An Actor: 

There’s just so many different things that can go wrong when talent is in the room. I would say one big thing is they should know what they’re doing – they should be confident, yet friendly, not above it all, they should know what empowers them, and they should not come off as needy. Because when there are clients in the room, you’re with the very people that can book you. And some people behave in a very needy way. We can feel it, and it’s not attractive.

On Dealing With Mistakes In An Audition:

If you’re doing a commercial read, and you make a mistake, improv around your mistake and try to get back on track. One of the worst things to do is to apologize and be down on yourself and make it a big tragedy that you made a mistake. Someone that’s really trained, in a fun way will try to improv around their mistake, and then either they get back on track or they don’t. A mistake can actually be a little gift. Knowing how to improv around that mistake can be a real gift.

On Crossing Lines:

When it’s a callback don’t cross a line figuratively or literally. You wanna stay on the mark that you’re given, and don’t walk over to [the clients] and start shaking their hands and saying ‘It’s so nice to meet you!’

On Connecting With The Casting Team Without Being Needy:

The best way to make a connection is to be good at what you do. Be friendly, open, say hello. But you don’t want anything from them. Don’t be attached to getting the job. The best actors go in, they do the best work they can, they’re well-trained, they know they did a good job, they leave, and forget about it, and go to the next one. And it’s an interesting dance, because of course you want the job. Let’s not pretend you don’t want the job. But you can’t have so much invested in that one particular job. Your job is to go in and give a good audition, and then the next one, and the next one.

On Being Neutral:

So I’d say another bad mistake actors make is they’re afraid to make strong choices, and they neutralize their audition choices. If you’re neutral you’re no place. You have to be distinct. We love when everybody’s good. I could have 25 actors come in and read for the same role and they’re all really good, they’re all just a little different. And then it’s subjective from the people who are choosing them, because the casting director doesn’t book them, it goes to the selection process.

On Choosing Where To Plant Your Flag As An Actor:

I would say go where you feel more comfortable, where you like the lifestyle. Good things are going to happen in [New York or L.A.], but the main thing is that you like the lifestyle initially. You should be happy with how you’re living, and where you’re living and then the right things will come to you. I know a lot of actors who do this: once they get started in one place, they then see thing more clearly and they reassess things and realize they want to live on the other coast because of their needs, their career needs, so they just make the switch. And say you start out in New York – there’s great training that’s really respected. Make sure you take full advantage of where you are. If you decide at a later time that you got everything you’re going to get out of that market, then you can always switch. But enrich your resume wherever you are.

If you want to sharpen up on your commercial acting technique, follow this link to Terry Berland’s Commercial Acting workshop.

How To Turn A Bad Audition Partner Into A Good Audition Experience

Written by Terry Berland | for Casting Networks

It is a given if you have a good audition partner that you have a good audition experience and you walk out of the audition feeling like you have a good shot at the call back.

Let’s define what a good audition partner is. A good audition partner has good timing and good chemistry with you. I teach commercial acting based on strong fundamental acting skills in a short scene format. A commercial is actually a short scene. In a short scene you have to know how to bring the best of yourself out quickly and if there is someone else in the scene both you and your partner have to know how to bring out the best in each other. You walk out of an audition with a good partner feeling you have a good shot at a call back or the booking.

Let’s talk about the auditions where you don’t gel with your partner at all. You feel the other actor has brought your performance down and you leave the audition feeling defeated, pretty sure you will never receive the coveted call back. This scenario can play out with kids auditions too. You can get paired with a kid who does not respond and you feel left in a lurch and bummed.

However, fret not. You can turn the situation around where you walk out of the audition happy, positive, with a bounce in your step, assured you have a chance at the call back.

Here are seven ways to handle a difficult audition.

Stay smiling and open. Don’t react negatively to a partner that is not auditioning well. Stay friendly, open and true to your choices. Incorporate the other actor in the scene by trying to gently finesse a reaction. Keep doing this and you will shine and the other actor will fall short.

Incorporate any flaws into the audition. Improv around something that is not working. For instance, make a funny remark about it. If your partner is till not responding, in good humor you may even start answering yourself. Always keep good humor and stay open with positive energy flowing.

Never get your back up and have a defensive, defeatist or irritable attitude. Keep on track to what you are trying to achieve in the scene; always trying to include the other person.

Show patience. Never loose your patience. You’re your good humor, letting your personality flow trying to uplift the scene, staying on track executing your choices towards the end result that you know is being called for.

Treat the situation with humor. This is actually a good time to build in humorous beats. Beats are little pockets to play in. The beats that you create are giving you more opportunity to show who you are and what you are all about.

Give a feeling you are a team player. Try to carry the person to where you know the scene should emotionally be. Keep being inclusive.

Show generosity. A bookable trait in an actor is generosity. Staying open with good humor and including the other actor in the scene makes you a generous actor.

When the creative team views the audition the actor who cannot hold up to their end of the audition will fall by the waist side, and not be considered.

You, the actor who is basically acting alone will shine.

You can walk out feeling YOU gave a good audition. I can reassure you in most group reads not everyone gets a call back in the group.

There are times people who work together get called back together, but not often. The call back is the time for chemistry reads. The creatives will pair together who they have a feeling will work well together. Sometimes there are several mixes and matches. Everyone at the call back should be a top-notch quality actor. If you are mixed and matched each experience will gel differently with each person.

If you want to sharpen up on your commercial acting technique, follow this link to Terry Berland’s Commercial Acting workshop.

Relationships Between Talent, Casting Directors, Agents and Managers

Written by Terry Berland | for Casting Networks

Living in the age of on-line and self-submissions, self-taping, and massive competition, in the commercial acting world, I am finding talent is not understanding the importance of the relationship between casting, agents and managers.

Bottom line is casting director’s depend on your representatives (agents and managers) to understand industry rules and regulations and keep order to the submission and booking system.  If a non-union breakdown goes out, 98% of the time there is a plus 10, 15 or 20% added on to talent payment for your agent and/or manager. I can assure you, as a casting director, when I receive the specs (details on the project), if a percentage has been left off of the payment for a rep (representative: agent or manager), I bring it to the attention of my client and they add it on to the payment.

As a casting director if I put a non-union breakdown out directly to talent and they book it without a rep, 75% of the time, at the time of the booking the talent informs me there is a rep involved. I then start communicating with the rep about the final details during client approval and bookings.

Talent should be sure when you ultimately turn the job over to your rep, after you have come to the call back and accepted the avail, that your agent knows you have accepted the job with the terms of agreement. You want to take seriously the fact that you have accepted the terms of agreement.

Casting would rather deal with an agent or manager than talent directly because there is a layer of professionalism and accountability added to the situation. We want to feel assured you understand all terms of agreement and you’ll show up on time for the wardrobe and shoot. You want a rep involved to protect you in case the terms of agreement get changed at the time of the booking or on the written agreement, or anything that you consider unfair happens on the set.

There is a mutual respect between casting directors, talent agents and managers.  Casting knows your rep is a business professional, devoting their time to making things happen for you and making sure everything runs smoothly such as you getting paid, to name one important factor.

Don’t ever think because a breakdown is released directly to talent that a casting director is by-passing your representative.  A direct-to-talent submission is usually only for non-union or harder to find special skill situations.

For a career with longevity you ultimately want representation and protection.  You want a team who is working for and with you, whom you have a good working and loyal relationship with.  You also want a career in an industry where you have protection and benefits.

If you want to sharpen up on your commercial acting technique, follow this link to Terry Berland’s Commercial Acting workshop.

How Your Casting Profile Can Get You An Audition (Or Not)

Written for the Networker by Terry Berland

There are certain things I would never chose to write about because they are trite, and I assume everyone knows the do’s or don’t regarding them.  However, recently prepping casting sessions, I started to take note of recurring “no-no” things that some talent are doing that I would consider “no brainers” to do right. Apparently it’s time for this trite, but important reminder list.

Warning!  Some of you think “of course I have that in place’.  But, it has come to my attention that things might not be as you assume they are on your casting profiles and you should check to make sure everything is as you wish them to be.

Your resume is not attached to your profile.

I am assuming you think your resume is attached, because how could you think you can compete against someone who does have a resume attached?  You can’t. Yes, we (casting directors) look at your resume to get a feel for who you are. On occasion, I have contacted someone asking them why they don’t have a resume online, and they are shocked to find out they have no resume on their profile. By the way, a fledgling resume is better than no resume at all.  Not having a resume attached to your photo quickly puts you into the “viewed /no” category. With an average of 4,000 submissions per project, casting is looking for ways to weed people out.

Your profile indicates there is a reel and there is not one attached.

The quickest way for us to see who you are is to look at a reel.  I am noticing on many profiles there is a reel icon and when I happily click on it, there is no reel.  It’s exasperating, disappointing and a waste of time. I wish I had time to get in touch with every actor to let them know their account is showing up that way.  But the reality is there is no time. Hopefully, reading this blog will help many of you.

Stay Away From Links To Your Reel.

Speaking of having a reel attached to your profile. Don’t give us a link to chase down instead of a reel attached.  It’s another step that can cause us to eliminate you due to lack of time. Looking through 4,000 photos, resumes and reels is daunting.  For pure survival, we will start doing what’s quickest, which is to just click on the reels that are there and not take the extra step of following a link.

Have the right number of photos attached to your profile.  

One photo is not enough  It’s a stingy choice that does you no good.  As a casting director, when I see one photo, you lose my interest right away. I can’t see enough of you in one photo.  Two photos are not enough either. My trained eye can see what I am looking for in four to five photos. I have been on many panels and the industry consensus is the same.

Clear old photos from your profile.

I lose interest if I see you with short hair and long hair and different color hair in varying photos.  I don’t trust who will show up so I don’t take the chance of having you in. There are two reasons to have this confusing range of photos.  Either you are not aware that it’s detrimental for you to show different looks that are not possible for you to have at the same time, or you have not put the time into cleaning up your profile.  Many times, I am told by talent “Oh, my photo choices have not been cleaned up, I still have the old ones on there”. They tell me this, truly with no conception that it makes a difference.

Check that foreign languages are correct.

I was casting several films recently that called for different foreign languages. I was shocked that “all” foreign languages were checked on more than 75% of resumes.  It’s obvious that there’s an option to click, and talent are apparently blindly clicking “all”, without any thought of the effect it has on casting. Loading our submissions with 2500 photos that do not fit the requirements of what we are looking for is maddening.  Have pity on us…..Please. Only languages that you speak fluently should be checked. In addition add an extra section that specifically mentions languages you speak fluently.

Don’t list your commercials.

Recently people are starting to list their commercials.  There is such a thing as conflicts, and you will not be considered for a product if you have a conflicting product listed.  Even if it’s a non-union commercial where there are technically no conflicts…you actually do have a conflict.

Check your profile every once in a while to see that it is up to speed.

You are in a very competitive field.  Every little thing I mentioned above can drop you in or out of the running. Imagine the pressure a casting director is under having to look through an average of 4,000 photos in the short time frame given to us by our clients.  Making sure the aforementioned is in place will place you more in harmony with the casting director/actor relationship. Ommmmmm….let’s go for the harmony.

To gain the most advanced up-to-date commercial acting technique you can study with Terry Berland. Terry Berland’s Commercial Acting Workshop.

Eleven Ways Not To Sabotage Yourself

Written by Terry Berland for The Networker

The acting business is based on so many variables that you don’t have control over.  The good news is there are many things you do have control over. I hesitate to share this list of errors because every item seems so obvious to me, but it’s happened too many times that I would be remiss not to share. Getting these things right can make a difference in being considered a trusted professional and, sometimes even getting or losing an audition.

  1. Attach a resume to your breakdown.  Some people do not have a resume attached to their photo submissions.  If there is no resume a casting director knows nothing about you.  Casting directors are choosing people who they know something about to fulfill a role, even if it’s just a look.  You cannot be considered without a resume.  Someone who has a resume will be chosen over someone who does not.
  2. Have more than one photo on your submission profile.  As a casting director, I like to look at four or five photos.  Several photos show a subtle range of what you look like and who you are.
  3. Spell names of people you studied with correctly.  The acting community is a small community. Most of us casting directors know who all the acting coaches are.  When I see a misspelling of an acting teacher I think it’s odd that the actor has studied with this person and are not aware enough to know how the person spells their name…or do they just not care.
  4. Get the name of the workshop right.  Everyone names or calls their workshop something that reflects their branding.  I’ve had people call my workshop whatever name they make up and even list the studio that I teach at as the name of the workshop  For instance my workshop is

“Commercial Acting Workshop.  It has the word “acting” in it for a reason; that being I use acting basics and treat it as a short scene   If you would list the name as “commercial workshop” it leaves out the word “acting’ which brands my workshop.

  1. Put contact information on your resume.  Yes, I’ve seen resumes without any contact information on them.  It’s obvious that no one can reach you with contact information.
  2. Look like your photo.  Your photo should be current.  Don’t choose a photo that makes you look prettier or more handsome than you are.  You should embrace what you look like.
  3. Confirm or cancel your appointments online quickly.  We (casting director’s) have to come through with a certain amount of choices for our clients.  Our clients get very, very upset with us if we don’t.  Calling talent to chase down a confirmation takes up a lot of time and is exasperating.  If you are not coming, let us know quickly, which will enable us to give someone else an appointment.  This will make your fellow actor very happy and save us a lot of agita.
  4. Put notes on your submissions if it is requested.  A note will make you stand out.  We have 4000 or more choices being presented to us in addition to agents and managers pitching clients.  You want to stand out.
  5. Submit for the correct role.  Breakdowns give us the capacity to switch you to a different role. After looking at 2000 photos taking the extra step of switching you might come at a moment when we can’t handle one extra moment to meet our deadlines.
  6. Read the breakdown carefully.  I’ve worked on SAG-AFTRA waived projects where there is money listed paid directly from production to talent but talent just see SAG-AFTRA waived contract and never notice the payment.  Because I really want the person to come in, I take the time to explain and re-read what the breakdown says.  You don’t want to be left out due to time running out.
  7. Don’t send correspondence without photo recognition.  If you are sending something through the mail include a picture postcard or business card with your photo on it.  If you are sending something via e mail, include a link to your website, or photo.  Maybe our memory needs a little jolt as to what you look like.  It can never hurt to show your face.  Links should be part of your e-mail signature.

Hopefully, you read over this list and say “I do all those things right” there is nothing for me to learn here.  But if there is even one that you can relate to and change, it could make the difference of you having the competitive edge or not.

To train with Terry Berland directly in her Commercial Acting Workshop, see workshop schedule at Workshops.berlandcasting.com.

Law Of Attraction For Actors

by Terry Berland

I declare this month Law Of Attraction month for you!

As an actor you want to attract the opportunities and the jobs.  It’s a feat to become part of the “system”, stay in it and snag the “gold ring”, the bookings. To do this, the most important thing is to attract activity to you, and the rest will come.  Fair warning, most results will be indirect and unexpected.

#1.  Create and gain momentum.  Stay in Motion. Newton’s law that a body in motion stays in motion, applies to your acting life. While you are in motion you can gently steer and change in a particular direction you choose when you feel it is the right time.

#2.  Long-Sighted goals.  Be realistic. Take one step at a time toward your long-sighted goals. Take your time to build up to the end results you have in site for yourself.  This might affect jobs you take, agents that represent you and acting classes you spend time and money on. I am certainly not advocating leaving an agent that believes in you and is working to build up your career.  If an agent is doing a good job for you, stay with that agent.  But for example, if your long-term goal is to be represented by CAA, build up to that long-term goal in a realistic way.  Another example is you declare “I want to be really great at advanced long-form improv.“  Well, you would have to take beginner and intermediate to build up to being able to handle advanced long-form.

#3.  Keep acting every way you can.  Create your own projects, act in acting class every week, do theatre, commercials, voice-over, video games, audio books, industrials, print work and even do an extra on a TV show to get on set to see how that venue works; and do every other form of acting that you can find that interests you.

#4 Work begets work.  Certainly don’t sell yourself short, but stay busy with any kind of acting work you can get.  Without selling out, take work for a fee that is not your long-term goal.

#5 Keep building your resume.   Start with the very important basic foundational strong acting technique training and then develop your resume according to the type of acting work you want to do.   If you know you are funny start taking classes that reflects being able to act with humor.  Also take improv that challenges the muscle in your brain that blocks and filters your creative thought process.  I once was interviewing an actor and after I read over her resume I asked where she thought her acting strength lies.  She said comedy.  I pointed out that there was not one play or acting class listed that reflected humor.  I told her the obvious, “you have a strong foundational resume, now start shaping it towards what your strength is and what you really want to do.”

# 6 Surround yourself with supportive people.  This is extremely important.  Walk away from negativity.  Leave it behind you and say “bye- bye”.

# 7 Surround yourself with positive people.  Positivity creates an energy around you that will attract positive situations.

# 8 Live by integrity.  Have integrity in everything you do.  Treat yourself with respect and treat others with respect.  That includes other actors, casting directors, agents and assistants.

#9 Believe in yourself :  You have to believe in yourself at every turn you make.  It starts when you walk in the room and continues when you walk out of the room and continues on your way home through that night to the next day.

# 10 Do everything with passion.  Show up at auditions interested, read all the directions given to you, analyze your scripts and sides, listen to direction given to you and make solid, committed choices.  Walk out of the room with joy that you just finished a satisfying audition.

#11  Be grateful.  Take time out to acknowledge all that you have.

Most of the time doing all these things magnetize indirect results and will bring unexpected situations your way.  I would love to hear about any of these things that you have done that have reaped you benefits.  Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

TEN FACTORS OF TRUST CASTING DIRECTORS DEPEND ON FROM ACTORS

Written for The Networker by Terry Berland

There is a huge trust factor that the commercial business is run on. If talent does not come through on their end of the trust factor, the casting process would end in failure. Here are ten factors of trust casting directors depend on from actors.

You Look Like Your Photo
If we (casting directors) do not have a reel of yours to look at, we only depend on your photo. A physical look in commercials is very important because the entire message is a “quick read”. It is devastating and maddening when you come in for your appointment and look different than your photo. Some ways you can look different are looking much younger or older, or your hair is a different style or color. Perhaps your photographer made you look prettier/more handsome or not as pretty/handsome as you really are. If you are a professional, you will want your photo to look like you, not different. Looking different than your photo has caused a casting director to give an appointment to someone who is not right for the part.

Your Acting Ability
Strive to be the best actor you can be. Don’t study dramatic acting only for a short while just to list it on your resume. Study to really get good. The same goes for improv, don’t just take a quick level-one improv class just to list it. Take more advanced levels in your acting training. Know the different acting venues you will be auditioning for.
Perhaps you have extensive dramatic or comedic acting training, but you never took a commercial technique class to learn how to apply your acting to the commercial venue. Your ability to act in a particular venue is very important. Many very good actors take my Commercial Acting workshop where they learn the similarities and differences between commercial acting and film and television acting; not to mention theatre acting. A good actor will be wise to take their good acting ability and learn each venue. There is a different technique for film as well as television, in addition to different techniques for two-camera or single-camera sitcom shows, in addition to differences in commercial acting techniques.

Truthful Resume Regarding Special Skills
Be careful not to exaggerate how well you do something. It is a waste of an audition space the casting director has to assign to an actor and a waste of your time to come in for something you are not right for; it is a mark against you if you say you do a special skill well and you don’t. If a special skill is involved such as horseback riding, we’ll hold call backs at riding stables to actually see you ride. It never fails that some talent at these auditions cannot ride well (or do whatever skill they say they could do well). If we can’t hold auditions at a location where we can see you do your special skill; second best is we request current tape on yourself doing whatever special skill is called for.

Your Submission Notes Are Accurate
A good way to catch a casting director’s attention is to write a note on your submission about your special skill. If we are looking at large volumes of talent submissions your note can easily catch our eye, and of course we take your word for it. Be truthful; don’t say anything just to get in the door.

Showing Up For Confirmed Appointments
Every appointment time counts to us. If you don’t show up that’s one less actor we are presenting as a possibility to our client. Our clients expect to see a certain amount of people at a casting session. If you don’t cancel your appointment in a timely manor, you’ve cheated another actor from a time slot. If you have to, cancel in enough time for us to fill the spot with another talent who can make it to the audition. Budgets are tight, casting directors have the day assigned to them to cast and that’s it! We have to come through for our clients on that day.

Accurate Accounts Of Conflicts
Check carefully that you are free of conflicts. When we go to book you and you then tell us you are not available, the entire process of selection has gone down the drain.

Accepting And Keeping Track Of Avails
Be very careful to coordinate with all your representatives that you are clear for the dates you say you are available. Availability is a hand-shake agreement but if it’s not adhered to, valuable selection time has gone down the drain. If you are part of an ensemble, replacing you with someone else causes the entire look and feel of the cast to change.

Accepting A Booking
Every detail of the selection process is based on trust, including the terms of agreement, until you sign the contract. Usually the contract is handed to you on set. If all details of the terms of agreement on the contract are the same as stated in the breakdown, it is not acceptable to have second thoughts at the time of signing your contract.

Showing Up At The Shoot
There is no such thing as being late on a shoot date. You show up early at the shoot. Early is on time.
Knowing How To Behave On A Set
Hopefully you are familiar with the behavior of being on set. A good idea in your preparation training stage is to get on a set through extra work to see how everything works. You are working every minute on the day of the shoot, even when you are not actually acting. This is a cell phone, text free zone. You are off the grid during the shoot day.

All this being said, we (casting directors) really depend on you. It’s a team effort and we appreciate you understanding the importance of knowing the elements it takes for casting to run smoothly from selection to the actual booking.

FIVE REASONS YOU MAY NOT BOOK THE JOB

A really good audition makes the casting director, the producer, and the director really happy. You gave a good audition, you got put on avail . . . and then you didn’t get booked. Why?
I can assure you it is nothing that you did wrong. So if it’s nothing you did wrong, what could it be?
The callback is the time the spot takes shape. Many variables come into play.
Here Are Five Reasons Why You Might Not Get Booked
1. The Spot Has A Certain Look
All variations and combinations of looks are considered. During the callback selection process, as the spot takes shape, your look might not quite fit in. I have seen a group of six people chosen and upon final consideration, the creative team noticed everyone was brunette. One person was randomly taken out of the group and replaced with a person with lighter hair. I remember feeling an “ouch” for the person taken out of the group.
image2
You might look too upscale, not upscale enough, too pretty, not pretty enough, etc. You can’t change how the creatives decide how their spot should look.
2. The Spot Has A Certain Feel
As the spot comes alive at the callback, the creative team sees more clearly what is going to work for the feel they want. The essence of your personality might not work. You might feel too humorous, not humorous enough, too serious, not serous enough, or too intellectual. I’ve even seen an actor with a wonderful performance lose the job during final consideration because one person on the creative team felt he did not feel “trustworthy” enough. The “feel” of who you are is your essence, and you can’t change your essence. You have no control over the feel of a spot.
3. Character Relationships In a Spot
When a group is being put together, you might not gel well with the other person they definitely want. You may gel well, but someone else gels better or differently.
image3
Chemistry comes into play during mixing and matching of people being considered. Sometimes you will actually be asked to stay to be mixed and matched. If you are not asked to stay, the creative team actually mixes and matches by shuffling around the size cards. They discuss the different feel of people together. You can’t change chemistry between people.
4. Change In Direction
There is always the chance that the direction of the spot, or your particular character is changed. You have no control over the ad agency or director making these changes.
5. Luck Of The Draw
Everyone is unique. Put two really good actor’s performances toe to toe in front of the creatives for them to choose, and they can only choose one.
All you can do is give your best performance, be knowledgeable about how the system works and feel fortunate you got to audition, got the call back and most importantly know that even though you didn’t get booked, you pleased everyone. Really know you will be remembered for the next opportunity.

How to Get Your Submissions Noticed

By Terry Berland – Written for The Networker

Don’t miss an important element on your submission that could get you an audition.

There are many ways a casting director makes their choices as to whom to bring in for the audition. First, I’ll mention the obvious ones, and then I’ll talk about the one that stands out to me as not so obvious and not used enough.

The obvious things a casting director looks for to choose you to come in to the audition are . . .

  1. Your photo.
  2. Things we’ve seen you in in the past.
  3. Your resume.
  4. Your training.
  5. Your special skills.

. . . and the One Big Thing That Grabs A Casting Director’s Attention . . .

The Note Section

Use the note section to grab our attention, which seventy-five percent of agents and actors submitting directly don‘t do. Add a note to your submission to highlight some special skill. In breakdowns, when we are looking for any kind of special skill, we ask for notes. Agents and talent are not paying much attention to this, so we even cry out our request by putting it in caps: NOTE YOUR SPECIAL SKILL.

Agents Who Don’t Put Notes On Submissions

I’ve called agents who don’t add a note to ask why they didn’t note the special skill as requested. Their answer is, “It’s listed on the resume. I would not have submitted them if they didn’t have the special skill.” Yes, that makes sense and is the logical thinking of a good, responsible agent. But things have changed in the fast-paced industry with the number of submissions easily reaching 4,000 and more.

The New Effective Way Of Submitting Vs. The Old Way Of Submitting

With electronic submissions, there are many more agents and managers submitting who I’ll call “click happy.” It just takes a click to submit a photo; some people really go at it with very little thought behind it. “Throw the spaghetti on the wall, and see what sticks.” When we call the agent’s office to question why many wrong people have been submitted, some of the answers we get are actually “Oh, my intern worked on those submissions” or “Oh, I guess I didn’t read that piece of information.” The end result of having to weed through an excessive number of submissions, whether they are off-target or on-target, results in lot of exasperation with the ones that are off-target, and just not enough time overall go through everything.

Looking At Notes Helps A Casting Director Weed Through Submissions

A solution on the casting end is to first ask for notes, and then scan all submissions and look for those notes. I am not talking about notes that are permanently on a submission. For instance, I was looking for a good comedic actor with an authentic sounding Boston accent. A permanent submission note of “Great dramatic actor” clearly had noting to do with this breakdown, and shows lack of thought and attention to the specifics of the breakdown.

Examples Of Effective Notes To Put On Your Submissions

Make your note very specific. Here are some examples of good notes.

If the breakdown calls for:

  • A Boston Accent, note: “Born and raised in Boston.”
  • Good Jogger, note: “Jogs two miles three times a week.”
  • Good Tennis Player, note: “Was on college tennis team.”
  • Good at Improv, note: “Advanced Groundling.”
  • Drives a Motor Cycle: “Motorcycle License, owns a motorcycle.”
  • Speaks Spanish Fluently, note: “Speaks Spanish fluently.”
  • Real Photographer: “Special event photographer,” or “Owns two Nikons.”

Some of the notes are obvious and just repeat what we have asked for, but it will make your submission stand out, rather than requiring us to read through 4,000 resumes and hopefully get to yours.

The most important thing is to really be honest. You will be doing yourself and us a really big favor.