Laurieby Casting Director, Laurie Records

…give less than full respect to a 1st call to callback or session with clients present.

In my perfect world as a Casting Director, actors would treat every audition with equal importance… and all with great importance. Whether it is commercial or theatrical, a first call, a callback, a producer’s session, for a big director or an unknown one… all of great importance. But I live in the real world, and I know this isn’t always the case. Commercially, I believe most know and agree that a callback is a big deal, and generally actors treat it as such. It’s typical to have actors arrive on time (Ahem… which leads me to believe you are capable of doing this for first calls!) in proper wardrobe, prepared and ready to go. As a collective group, actors are on their game for callbacks. What I’m not so sure of is if there is an understanding of other really important calls, where your chances of booking are just as significant.

Commercial actors should never underestimate the importance of a first call to callback or a one-day only casting session with clients present.

You know these are essentially the same as a standard callback, at least in the realm of importance. True, you don’t have the satisfaction of knowing you were “selected” from your first go at it and you don’t have the comfort of automatically knowing what to wear (the same thing you did to the first call) or what is likely to be covered. But your chances, under these circumstances, of booking the job are better (sometimes much better) than standard first calls, even though they qualify as a first call. They are first calls with special circumstances, and you should treat them as such.

The stuff you should already know:

Be on time. Everyone knows that. What you may or may not know that it’s taboo… a sin, actually, to keep the client waiting. If you are five minutes late for your appointment, it is entirely possible the client has been sitting in an empty studio waiting for your arrival. It makes the Casting Director look bad. And it makes you look bad. Five minutes is a long time to sit twiddling your thumbs. Early = on time, I always say.

Be prepared. There’s a great debate as to whether actors should memorize copy. It is my experience that actors who have memorized the copy get the job. In a first call to callback/client present one-day only castings, there is no second chance. You can’t say you’ll read it off the cue cards now, but memorize it for the callback… because it IS the callback. Get it?

Wardrobe. It’s always important. Stupid important. Don’t disqualify yourself by wearing the wrong wardrobe in front of the clients. Remember, they are looking for someone who could go from the studio straight to set to shoot. This is the goal always… especially in front of the client.

Some key things you might not have thought of:

Your chances are good, numbers-wise. Sometimes you are up against a lot of other actors for your one role in a first call. Casting Directors don’t want to put too many actors in front of a client. We are used to long casting days, they are not. For first calls to callbacks, the numbers could be anything, but in my experience is the Casting Director is bringing in no more than 10, and often less than that. When the client is present for a one-day casting session, the session is typically shorter, seeing fewer actors per role than the regular ‘ole first calls.

Bring extra patience. The client rules, always. If they are running behind, need to take a call, want to take a break, are taking excessive time with some actors… that’s simply going to be what it is. They are essentially running the session with some monitoring by the Casting Director. You may have to wait, longer than for what is typical for first calls. Think of it as a callback, it essentially is… and bring a bucket of patience.

Check all project details. Once. Twice. Three times if necessary. The Casting Director can’t find out you aren’t available for the shoot when putting out avail calls… or worse, when they are trying to book you. This is a catastrophe. Make sure you are fine with the rate, run, shoot date, union status of the job, etc. No turning down the job if you are offered the role. Decline the audition.

I can’t stress enough that there are different expectations when there are clients present during a session. Gaps in the schedule, causing them to wait is a complete no-no. Everyone must be appropriate for the role… (meaning if the Casting Director hasn’t had you in recently/at all, you BETTER look like your headshots, with your stats truthful and current) or the Casting Director looks incompetent in front of their client. And, frankly, everyone should give a really good, solid performance. No stinkers. Which means you might have wanted to take a good amount of time to go over the copy. This would not be the audition to fly by the seat of your pants. You are needed to be as good as if it were an actual callback. Because, with the exception of having done it previously… it is.

Laurie Records, Casting Director

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