…leave ineffective notes with their submission.
I’m often asked for easy actor tricks. The word “trick” makes me cringe. Tricking anyone in the industry into giving you an audition/opportunity/job is a bad idea. Move right on out of that frame of mind. Now, passing on juicy tidbits that actors often neglect or may not be privy to, on the other hand, is something I can get behind. One of my favorite tidbits is to remind (or introduce) actors of the power of leaving notes when self-submitting. I’ve always said that the right note can, at the very least, get your online account opened (for the CD to view your additional headshots/resume/video clips) and the best case, the right note will get you the audition slot. (Did you catch the use of the word, *right*… twice?)
Commercial actors should never leave ineffective notes with their submission.
The question of the hour is: What the heck makes a note effective?
I will answer that question by asking you to answer another: How can I reassure the Casting Director about any doubts they may have, in my note?
Budgets are perpetually tight. There are fewer casting days than ever (if any at all!) to find the perfect actor to fill each role. Each and every actor given an appointment must have the right look and be talented. Period. Imagine the gamble of calling in an actor that a Casting Director hasn’t already had in numerous times. They won’t know exactly who will walk in the door, the performance they will give and whether or not they are reliable. Here are some ways to put some their minds at ease, in your note…
*This is how I know you. If you have ever met the Casting Director, remind them. Mentioning the last audition you came in for them would be great. Ex: “Thanks for calling me in on Tide last month. I would love the opportunity to see you for this spot!” But, even if you have met them in a non-audition setting, it’s worth mentioning. Why? Because at the very least they know what you look like (in real life… which, of course, is exactly what your headshots look like. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for all actors) and have heard your voice. They will have had the chance to experience your energy and personality. It is certainly better than nothing. It reassures them that they know who will walk in the door. If you met them at a networking event, great! Say it! If you were in a class where the CD came in as a guest speaker, remind them. Casting Directors meet actors all the time. Don’t count on them remembering that you have met. Mention it!
*This is what I have done/am doing. This can be a lot of things… the improv class you are taking, where you trained (be proud of it), the national network commercial you just shot (keep it that general. Ex: “I just booked a national network commercial last month and would love to come in and keep the booking ball rolling!”), the co-star roles you have recently booked, the lead role in a feature film that you just booked, etc. Highlight something on your resume to entice the Casting Director to want to see more. Highlight a project specific item (like your improv experience) when the job is asking for it. Reassure them that you have either the requested experience, that you have worked (yes, theatrically is cool!) or that you have training and won’t be a dork in the room!
*This is my skill. When a Casting Director is looking for an actor fluent in Spanish or a stilt walker, leave a note saying exactly that (Ex: “Fluent Spanish”). “Stilt walker for 10 years, performed with Barnum and Bailey… See video clip.” Leave the note even when your resume says it. It’s so much easier to read a note than sift through your resume, looking for key words. Make it easy. Reassure the Casting Director you have the required skill.
*The itsy bitsy important details. When the Casting Director repeatedly mentions the importance of being available for ALL shoot dates, leave a note saying you are. If you are SAG eligible, leave a note reassuring them that you are willing and ready to join. When an agent submits talent, it’s easier to assume these details are covered. When actors are submitting themselves, it’s harder to be sure. All the more important to reassure the CD that you are on top of all the details they may be fretting about. Read the breakdown carefully, you’ll be able to tell what those issues/fears are by noting what they are stressing and repeating. Address it in a note.
*Local. If you have an out of town agent listed on your profile, why not leave a note assuring the Casting Director you are a local hire/avail to come in an audition? If there is a question as to whether you are one of those actors submitting from 2000 miles away (because they do), alleviate the concern by addressing it in a note.
*Change of appearance. This isn’t one of the note suggestions that will get you an audition, but it’s worth (actually necessary) mentioning. If your hair is a couple of inches shorter/longer/different color than your headshots, say it. If you have shots with facial hair and without facial hair, let the Casting Director know what you have NOW. If you have lied (oh, yes I mean this) about your stats/sizes on your profile and the Casting Director is looking for someone with very specific sizes or a specific height requirement, leave a note with your TRUTHFUL stats that are imperative to the casting. It should go without saying that my suggestion would be to have accurate stats on your account to begin with… but I feel like it’s almost futile to mention.
Really quick examples of bad or ineffective notes:
*Thanks for your consideration. It’s a nice sentiment, but personally it makes me think you have absolutely nothing going on worth mentioning. I think it would be better to leave nothing and let your resume/photos stand on its own.
*Reel available upon request/instructions to find your reel on a different site. Don’t send a Casting Director anywhere else to view your reel. Don’t make the CD contact you for your reel. Far, far, far more often than not… you will just be overlooked. There isn’t time to search for your reel or try to get a hold of you.
*Insult the project/give a backhanded compliment. An example: “I don’t normally do PSA’s but this particular one looks like it’s going to be really well done and for a good cause, so I’m submitting for your consideration.” If the project is beneath you, don’t submit on it. If it isn’t beneath you, don’t leave a note giving any indication that it is.