These questions are directly from the most frequent actor questions that were gathered in the Facebook group page CASTING DIRECTORS FOR ACTORS, which was founded by casting director Jeremy Gordon and monitored by him and myself. Considering I have no doubt there will be more questions in the future, this is only part 1 out of many more entries to come. So without further adieu:
1. How do I get an agent? (With an automatic given that it’s a good LEGIT agent).
This simple question is probably one of the most complex, multi-tiered questions that perplexes so many actors. Instead of writing it all here, I’ll refer you to this rather long and detailed post I wrote about that details how to best attack it (in my personal opinion. Click HERE
2. What is the best way to followup with a casting director after an audition or workshop?
In workshops, the casting director will always tell the actors how to best reach them (as someone in the group will always ask this question without fail). More often than not, it is HIGHLY NOT RECOMMENDED that you message them via their personal Facebook. I hate it when strangers do that to me, women hates it when creepy guys do it to them, so apply that kind of thinking, have some common sense and refrain from shoving your headshot + resume + reel to a casting director who doesn’t even know you.
Now if you met the casting director through an audition, find out when you get home if they have a Twitter or a Facebook FAN page (not to be confused with their personal). You can also find if they have a mailing address through CastingAbout and send them a thank you letter through that way.
3. How do I get a regional agent and is it a good idea to do so?
This also requires a redirect to another post I wrote in this matter so for the full details, check THIS ARTICLE
4. Is being SAG eligible but not yet SAG hurting my chances for being called in for small co-star roles? Should I just pay up now that I have a seasoned resume of non-union work?
Being SAG eligible does not hurt your chances of being called in for small co-star roles but be sure to double check if you’re on a “MUST JOIN” status as you will be required to pay up $3k initiation fee if this is so. Otherwise, being SAG eligible is a great place to be as productions don’t have to pay the Taft-Hartley fine and you can still do non-union projects without any worry. Some actors prefer just writing that they’re in the union but if you choose this route, I would only advise you to do so if you have that money that’s ready to pay up at a moment’s notice.
5. What is the best way to interact/network with industry professionals through social media?
Twitter is probably the best way to do so, especially if you see these industry folks (whether writers, producers, casting directors, or directors) actively using the platform. Congratulate them for a successful season premiere, Emmy/Artios/Oscar/Golden Globes nomination or win, compliment their writing/directing/casting, or just have a dialogue with them as you would with your friends. But use common sense. Don’t be a weirdo and be a likeable yet smart professional.
6. What is the difference between a casting director and a talent agent and why can’t I send harassing emails to a casting director demanding to know why they aren’t getting me more work?
A casting director is mainly responsible for calling in actors from the various amount of agent/manager/self submissions and use their knowledge and best judgment in terms of how many they get to call in, based on their relationships with the agents/actors and the knowledge of the actor’s work, whether from previous experience or by viewing their headshots, resume, and demo reels. This is where it proves to be extremely challenging as a casting office handling a primetime TV show will get up to 1500-2000 submissions for one role and they will only have time to bring up to 40 people at MAX (usually it’s around 10-20).
A talent agent is a person, who basically finds jobs for the actors. While they are not be-all, end-all, getting an agent is an important step to an actor’s career as the agent will have access to the breakdowns and submit you for primetime TV shows, studio films, and major problems that an actor would normally not have access to. Casting directors will go to agents, whether directly or through the agent submitting their clients to find the actors they need for any particular given project.
As to why you can’t send harassing emails to a casting director demanding why they aren’t getting you more work? Because you as an actor are one out of hundreds of thousands of other actors and the world does not revolve around you.
7. I have an agent, but I rarely go out on auditions. I have new headshots, a reel, and I am in class! Help! Do I need a new agent?
There really is no definite reason why actors don’t go out on auditions at various moments. More often than not, it is out of your hands as your particular type may not be needed even though your agent is hard at work pitching and submitting you, like they always were when you were going out. As for the actors who only got 5-8 auditions per year? It is best that you have a meeting with your agent and discuss what you think the problem may be in terms of how you can amp up the audition rate. Perhaps you need better headshots. Perhaps your reel needs work. Once again, keep in mind that getting an audition for a high profile project is a win as casting sees thousands of submissions and only a few dozen actually get the appointment.
And also, think of it like this. Agents get 10% of your commission which means you can also see it as that they do 10% of the work. You have to do the 90. So go write that short film idea that you said you always wanted to do for a year. Reach out to that director you once worked with 2 years ago and see how they’re doing. Go to that film festival you’ve been meaning to go to and network with the writers, directors, producers that are milling around the lobby afterwards. Drop by at your agent’s office and wish them a happy birthday (for starters, you should always find out when your agents’ birthdays are. It’ll do you wonders.) Send those postcards/tweets out to the casting directors you have auditioned/booked for and remind them that you’re still an actor and still present. Have that lunch with that writer acquaintance you always admired their work for and get to know them better.
More often than not, an actor starts obtaining a steady stream of work when they have set the groove of maintaining and following up with relations they have forged over the years and soon enough, you will start seeing a pattern in terms of the industry folks who are huge fans of your work and yourselves.
After all this and you’re still not going out? Then yes, perhaps it is best to get a new agent.
8. What qualities does a great reel have? can you post some “great reels” for us to copy the formats?
General guidelines to a great reel:
– It should be no longer than 3 minutes.
– It should not have a montage sequence at the beginning. Just jump right into the first scene.
– Your first scene should ideally be your best and strongest scene that is a clear indication of what you can easily do.
– Each scene shouldn’t really go past 30 seconds so find the strongest moments for each scene you would like to present.
– Cut out any scenes where you aren’t saying anything. We don’t need to see how good you’re able to cry/laugh or staring sullenly into space.
– It is best that you don’t have crazy character ranges where you’re a nice caring housewife in one scene and then a crazy psychotic clown in the other. There can definitely be different character variations but your demo reel should be perceived as a package you want to advertise in how industry folks should see your work.
I’ll be vain and use myself as an example as I’ve had consistent good feedback that I practice what I preach when it comes to having a solid demo reel:
9. When targeting casting directors and doing workshops we should only go for people that cast projects we could be in correct? If my agent has me targeting people I am not too sure about, does that mean we aren’t on the same page?
Yes, ideally you should be targeting projects that you can immediately be cast in. If your agent is targeting people you’re not too sure about, then have that talk with your rep and have a sit down/phone chat in their vision for you. More often than not, it is better to give your reps the benefit of the doubt that they have a larger picture in mind for you so be sure to have that communication with them.