Throughout this year, I’ve had a lot of thoughts when it came to casting workshops (you can read the pro side and the con side) and while I believe still there is a usefulness to doing them, a recent thing has come up with my conversations that I had with fellow actor friends that has compelled me to write what I’m about to say. It’s going to be a bit testy and controversial so if you disagree heavily, I am always down to see your comments and have a discussion.
Agents and managers who demand/request their actors to take casting workshops are utterly useless.
Okay those may be very harsh words but that’s my initial belief unless proven otherwise. Why do I say this? Because an agent/manager’s job is not to just click and submit but also to pick up the phone and use their public speaking skills to get their clients seen. Even if the rep has somewhat decent rep, this is still very possible. They just have to know their client well, believe in them, and pick up the damn phone. When it comes to managers, they have the similar ability to get their clients seen in the room and as such, they need to flex their knowledge and speaking skills and sell their client’s attributes to make them suitable to get that audition.
I hear that these reps request their clients to do workshops mainly for the “reason” that the client is unknown and thus doing workshops will help MAKE them known. Well, to me, that statement reeks of laziness and shows how little your rep is willing to put themselves out there to get you in the room.
The argument could be that these reps don’t have a known reputation (or “clout” shall we say) and so as a buddy ol’ pal help me help you kind of mentality, they ask that actors do workshops to make their jobs easier. Now, I do believe in actors doing marketing and followup work of their own to help out their agents/managers but to simply say that you as an actor can’t even get a co-star audition because you’re not “known” is ridiculous.
Trust me when I say that agents/managers who have little clout can get their clients in the room simply by picking up the phone, pitching their client with precise knowledge, using their clients’ demo reels and materials (this is where the actor helps out the rep tremendously by having all your marketing tools in order) as their presentation selling points, and most importantly, have the ambition, drive, hunger, and ultimately belief in the client that they are perfect for the part. Sure, they can’t do this for every single role but when the roles come around that are perfect for their clients, these reps need to pick up the phone, not be afraid of rejection, and pitch. That is how an actor can be known with casting offices.
Now if an actor tells their rep that they are doing a workshop for so-and-so casting person on their own accord, the rep will usually say that it doesn’t hurt and can definitely help them with the submission and pitching process. I know with my agency, they are leaning me to wittle down on doing workshops because at this point, I’ve maintained and followed up (and will keep doing so) with over 50+ casting offices. Everybody has a different case by case situation. Once again I must reiterate that I do find value in casting workshops, it’s just how they are being utilized. If you are demanded by your rep that you must do so to help them out or help you out because you’re not “known” that I find extremely problematic and thus I make this a point that if your rep does this, you must re-evaluate if they are the right fit for you.
If you know your agent is a hard worker and not the type that demands you to do workshops but you still are having trouble, taking your rep out for lunch and/or have a meeting with them to discuss what’s your unique selling points will definitely help out with your team so if you’ve never done so, now is the best time as we are in network hiatus season (there are still cable pilots going around but it’ll be a lot less busy than it was earlier this year). Like I said earlier, having all your marketing materials in place is key. Get that demo reel done and put up on YouTube/Vimeo. Create an official website for yourself. Have all your social media bases covered so that when people google you, the first 5-6 results should be you. Send unique, specific postcards/letterheads/emails/FB (through their fan/group pages usually)/tweet and be keen & professional with followups. Create a tracklist of your casting & industry contacts and send updated versions to your reps. All of these and more are beneficial ways that you as an actor can help your team out without solely relying on workshops.
If there are any agents and managers as well as actors reading this who have a massive issue what I’m saying, please feel free to comment! I would love to hear your opinions on this particular matter.