by Casting Director, Laurie Records
…rule out a casting internship.
Casting internships for actors. There are as many different opinions on the subject as there are people willing to spout them. I have literally heard (or read) every viewpoint from: it does nothing for the actor’s career, to… it’s one of the best things an actor can do. And everything in between. As you can probably imagine, I will give you my opinion… and feel free to consider, then take it or leave it. For the record, (Ha! I simply can’t help myself) I have yet to have an intern myself, and this isn’t my covert way of gathering volunteers. I just happen to be in the boat of firm believers that it could be wildly beneficial to an actor. I can’t figure out why actors aren’t fighting over (at least some) casting internships…
Commercial actors should never rule out a casting internship.
Casting internships WON’T: “get you discovered” or make you a better actor.
If you are hoping that working in a casting office will “get you discovered”, it won’t. If that’s your goal (and there’s just so, so, so many things wrong with that type of thinking), you couldn’t be more right that an internship won’t do it. It won’t improve your acting. Watching good actors coming in and out for a couple of days in an audition setting won’t make you a better actor. It doesn’t rub off. Get some serious training.
Casting internships WILL: educate you in the art of the audition.
There are two things in which an actor must be brilliant: acting and auditioning. As stated before, training and doing will address developing the acting skill. Working in a casting office may be the single most effective and enlightening thing you can do to improve your audition knowledge. There’s nothing like seeing 80+ auditions in a day to illustrate what works and what doesn’t in the room. There is a perpetual mystery or question mark surrounding the commercial audition. It can be perplexing which leads many to proclaim the process to be a crapshoot. It isn’t. Watch a day or two of commercial auditions, and you will completely agree with me. It will also clear up misunderstandings of lobby etiquette, see firsthand what nerves can do to an audition, and open your eyes, in general, to the things actors regularly do to shoot themselves in the foot.
Casting internships WILL: get you on the radar, aid in building relationship.
There are few things more precious than time… so when an actor is donating their time to ease the process for a casting director, it’s noticed. It isn’t forgotten. I guess I can’t boldly speak for all Casting Directors, but… let’s remain optimistic on that issue. You, at the very least, will be on their radar. If you are already on their radar, it will keep you on the radar and start/continue the RELATIONSHIP. And we all know by now, it’s all about the relationship. 99 times out of 100, CD’s have far more amazing actors submitted on a project than they can ever bring in. The relationship will help to secure your spot in the room. Will interning for a day create a lifelong relationship? Of course not. Like anything else, you have to maintain the relationship… nurture it. Popping in (a figure of speech, don’t come in unannounced) and helping out for a day or two, maintains and nurtures, surely.
Casting internships WILL: get you on tape, if you are actually right for the role.
Don’t count on this, but at least in my experience… if you are right for one of the roles being cast, you will be put on tape. If you are not, you won’t. Think of it as a bonus. It shouldn’t be the reason you decide to be an intern, as it’s more the luck of the draw. If you truly feel like you are right for the role (and are avail for the CB, shoot, not holding a conflict, cool with the union/pay) and haven’t heard a peep from the CD… use your discretion and ask for the opportunity, if you feel comfortable. The worst that can happen, and it may, is that you are told no. If you get the vibe it wouldn’t be cool to ask, don’t. It’s a judgment call. Go with your gut.
**There is a strong lobby out there advocating never working for free. You’ll have to make your own decision on that. I feel like there is a time and a place for it… and volunteering to be a casting intern may fall under that category. Work begets work, and yes, I believe this type of work is applicable to “beget work”. **Casting isn’t terribly flexible. Make sure you know what would be expected of you, and whether you can leave in the middle of the day for an audition. The answer may be yes, or no… depending on your responsibilities. **Know what you are saying yes to. Will you be in the room? Will you have access to a monitor? Can you view the auditions after the fact? Knowing the deal up front will keep it all on the up-and-up for everyone and any disappointment at bay. **Consider an internship at a talent agency. No doubt you would learn a lot about the process, what headshots work, mistakes actors make in dealing with their agent, the trends, etc. I’ve never worked at an agency, so I can’t say much more on the subject, but it may be worth looking into.
Laurie Records, Casting Director