An actor's relationships with casting directors in the #1 factor in having a successful TV and film career. Actors who do not have relationships with casting directors rarely get called in for the shows you seen on television or major motion pictures. The old adage is true: People work with people they know. The sames goes for Casting Directors. It is important for a Casting Director to be familiar with you, your headshot, and your work in order to be called in for an audition for mainstream projects.
One of the BEST ways to get to know Casting Directors is to participate in Casting Director Workshops. They are offered at numerous locations throughout LA for approximately $15-159. While most regular auditions only last from 30 seconds to 5 minutes, Casting Director workshops are between 1 and 2 hours giving you valuable time with a CD where they can get to know you, see your work, watch a scene and give you critical instruction to develop your audition skills. Casting Directors workshops are an absolute MUST! I suggest you do the same Casting Directors Workshop two or three times a year so you can build a rappore.
Let's say you attend Scott David's Workshop. Scott casts Criminal Minds. Before you attend he has no idea who you are. After you have attended he is familiar with you and your work somewhat. Now your headshot crosses his desk in the future he will know who you are. If he liked your work he may even a call you in! Wow, you moved from Podunk, Arkansas with big acting dreams and now a real Hollywood casting director knows who you are. You are moving in the right direction. Now repeat this process with numerous casting directors and you are starting to build relationships and contacts. The key here is to be outstanding in the workshops and in the audition room. You may not get that part, but you will make a great impression and likely be called in again and again.
How do you get great in the audition room? Take audition/cold reading classes and read some of the great books about auditioning that are available to you. I highly suggest Casting Director Helen McCready's book, "Audition and Book It." Helen also teaches an AUDITION INTENSIVE WORKSHOP which offers the fundamentals essential to develop the skills necessary to become a working actor. It gives the actor the opportunity to gain self-confidence, and recognize their uniqueness, skills and talent. Actors from beginners to advanced will get the training that they need to audition and book the role! I highly recommend actors attend. Go to her website to join her Email list.
I suggest to all of my clients to target & cultivate a "Hit List" of industry contacts. 1st step: make a list of 10 Casting Directors you need to meet. These are 10 people who cast the shows you KNOW you would be right for. Then start attending their workshops regularly throughout the year. You can research on google where these casting directors are offering workshops likely they are at the following locations:
One On One,
ARE CASTING DIRECTOR WORKSHOPS LEGIT?
Actors sometimes ask me are Casting Director Workshops legit? My answer: "Absolutely YES!" Not only does attending CD Workshops help you get called into auditions, but in terms of getting a good agent, your relationships with Casting Directors will be your greatest currency. Think about it this way, when an agent makes a call to pitch a client to a Casting director who will be the easier sell? An actor the CD already knows, or the completely unknown one? Agents always prefer to take on clients that make their job easier i.e. actors with CD relationships. One of my clients Laura Wilson took Paris Barclay's Workshop (Director of Sons of Anarchy) Laura sent me an email saying, "Paris brought me in for a featured extra and he liked me so much, he had me come in to read for a co-star." I hear this all the time so yes, CD Workshops work.
So get out there and start cultivating your most important relationships by meeting these CD's by attending CD Workshops and agent showcases regularly. This is an important key to your success. I can not stress this enough. This must be one of your TOP priorities. Once you get through the 1st 5 CD's, start on the next 5, and keep in touch with all of them. Don't take on more than you can handle. Maintaining relationships is hard work but, it is one of your most important jobs. Holiday Cards, Birthday Cards and Post Card announcements of shows you are in, or jobs you book are mandatory every 3-4 months. These people need to know you. And ALWAYS send a thank you card after every audition you have. If you don't know the CD's address ask the assistant at the audition if they know it. (they may even know the Cd's Birthday)
Listen, a casting director wants to meet you. They need you. They really want you to be good and wants you to get the job. If you get it right their job is done! Don't be afraid of them. Some of them really are the coolest people. Go to every audition with a positive attitude and good energy. Have fun.
Casting Director Melissa Skoff has cast over 100 features, tv shows and has helped launch the careers of some of today's biggest movie stars, and many solid, working actors including Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Lauren Graham, David Spade, Robert Downer Jr, George Clooney, Catherine Bell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. But you do NOT have to be intimidated by Casting Directors. They really want to see you do well. They want to meet you. Melissa says, "I love casting. I love reading a script and envisioning the cast. I love reading actors and directing them and watching characters come to life. I love to have actors in the room who can make me laugh, or bring tears to my eyes. I love getting goosebumps. And I love helping actors develop their careers. That makes me very happy." Wow, didn't you want to know that? I send most of my clients to Melissa to train because she knows her stuff. I highly suggest all actors take her Cold Reading and Audition Technique Class. For prices and info Melissa Skoff can be reached in North Hollywood at (818) 760-2058 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Want more convincing? Casting Director Mariko Ballentine says, "bring your sense of humor in to the room. Meaning, if you find something funny, laugh! Let us see what is funny to you. We love to laugh." Relax, Casting Directors want to meet you.
Relax and enjoy the process. Yes there is etiquette. Do not shake their hands because they do not want a million germs. It's nothing personal. Do not try and small talk after your audition because they are really crunched for time. Sometimes they are moody. It's nothing personal, they have a lot of pressure and just a small window of time to meet all the demands that are being placed upon them. Just go in, give 100% and at the end of your audition thank them with warmth and a smile, and leave. There is a lot more to it than that so I suggest you get started reading. Read everything you can get your hands on. If you are not, you are simply not going to be able to compete with other actors in the room who have learned more than you have about auditioning. It is so annoying to me when actors don't get that. So many actors think their natural talent alone is enough. It is not. There is a method to all of this. Agents know it, Casting Directors know it and so do we managers. If you don't learn how this game is played, you will be left behind. My job as a manager is to make sure that doesn't happen to you. My direction has a purpose. I am trying to make you successful in this business. Fighting me is defeating your own goal.
Remember, Managers don't make money until you do. If you are an actor who can not take direction from a manager you are going to have a rough go of it. Yes, you have to pay for Casting Directors Workshops. Yes, you may need a 2nd job. Yes, you are going to have one expense after another. Starting an acting career is like starting a small business. There are start up costs and operations expenses to keep it running. Figure the cost of CD workshops into your acting business budget and don't think you can skip this step. Casting Directors are your best friends. They can make or break your career. Without them you have very little chance to succeed.
Lastly, create a contact database for all of your industry contacts, putting their addresses, emails, phone numbers and birthdays if you can find out. Send them postcards announcing your bookings/jobs, Happy Birthday and Happy Holidays. This is very important. You must do it this 4 months like clock work, rain or shine to stay at the forefront of their mind. Producers, Directors, Casting Directors and Agents. Most talent gets lazy and doesn't bother. Here is where I want you to be superior because this distinguishes the actors who work and develop relationships with casting Directors, and those who don't.
As always keep believing in yourself and don't let anyone, or anything discourage you. You are special, unique and have so much to offer.
Break a Leg!
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Wendy Alane Wright Smith