by Casting Director, Laurie Records
…forget that “crazy” happens.
Do you ever pick a theme song for certain occasions in your life? Certain days, certain weeks? For fantastic or for less than stellar reasons, you likely have. I can’t speak for other casting directors, but over the years there have been certain jobs that acquired theme songs for good, bad, funny, and plenty of insane reasons. It’s rare that a commercial job is absolutely smooth sailing from beginning to end. Due to the usual quick turnaround and inherent stress of commercials, there is usually a hiccup or two. Sometimes actors feel the repercussions of this, sometimes they never know. Occasionally a job comes along worthy of a “Crazy Train” theme song forever attached to its memory.
Commercial actors should never forget that “crazy” is sometimes the “norm” in commercial casting.
What’s the common “crazy” actors have to deal with?
*Late/little notice: Some of you have received audition notices well after traditional evening business hours. Many of you have received a same day first call or callback notice, sometimes with the request to drop everything and get to the studio, pronto. Welcome to the crazy. It’s only becoming more and more common.
*After hours/weekend roles being released: Imagine a role being put out by a casting director after hours on a Friday for a Saturday afternoon session. Rare? Certainly. Unheard of? Nothing is unheard of. For you self-submitters out there, this kind of crazy works in your favor. The casting director has almost no other option than to schedule the talent direct for an audition. Let the crazy work in your favor whenever you can.
*Script changes: The copy can change several times during the audition, callback and booking process. This means you may prepare for an hour the evening before your appointment, only to arrive at the studio to find new copy. Or an even more difficult scenario, walk in the room at a callback and have the director decide to have you read for a different role… with new copy, of course. It’s crazy, it happens, roll with it.
*Roles cut: Have you ever walked out of your audition on cloud 9, thinking that you have nailed your audition, only to hear chirping crickets from that point on? You aren’t crazy… it’s the process that can be. Stick to your guns that you did an outstanding job and move on. There are a million reasons why you didn’t receive a callback, and a role going an entirely different way (like changing from male to female, ethnicity, age range, etc.) is one of them. A role being entirely canceled is another. You’ll never know. It happens. Crazy.
*Avails holding and holding and holding…: Sometimes a casting director fails to release avails. That stinks, plain and simple. But there are other times that you are sure that the job must be booked, due to the fact the wardrobe date is upon you, or the shoot has begun, but it hasn’t. This can make you crazy, but it happens. Hold tight and take a deep breath. You may not hear any news in a timely manner, but it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Something crazy may be going on.
*Canceled booking: It isn’t very common, thank goodness, but bookings do get canceled from time to time. Why? Who knows?!? It’s unpleasant for all parties involved and devastating to you. You likely will never know why. Assume it had nothing to do with you and nurse your wounds. My words of wisdom… similar to the genius advice of not spending any money until you see your spot air (or better yet, until the check is in your hand… ) remember that nothing is guaranteed until you arrive on set. Be excited at the time of booking. Be really excited when you are in the car driving there. Be thrilled when you see it on the television. Crazy things happen. Bookings get canceled on rare occasions. Spots don’t air. Crazy but true.
What’s crazy for me?
*Emails: When a casting director puts a job out on LA Casting, that is the service that they use to receive submissions, schedule auditions… it’s the system they use to perform their job. It’s become more and more common for actors to email the casting director in addition (or not) to submitting through the service, I’m guessing, to call attention to their submission. Unless the casting director is casting a highly unusual role and/or makes the request to be sent emailed submissions, I believe it does nothing more than clutter up their inbox… and cause possible irritation. Auditions aren’t scheduled via email (or phone) so there isn’t much to be done with an email. It’s far from ideal to weed through actor submissions in the inbox trying to find important instructions from the producer. Emails = adding to the craziness.
*Calls: Casting directors are receiving plenty of phone calls from agents on any given day of a job. Actors, for the millionth time don’t call the casting director. It adds to the crazy… it makes them crazy. It’s a breach of etiquette.
*Crashers: Crashing actors are never welcome during any session other than an open call. Actors who are respectful and honest in asking the lobby assistant if they can be seen are tolerable on a good day. Actors who lie and bully the assistant… taking away their time and focus from the actors who have appointments, are exasperating. Your elaborate tales of why you should be seen are a waste of precious time. Don’t add to the crazy. Stop crashing.
*All the above: When you are crazy, the casting director is crazy. And for all the reasons listed, it’s crazy. Believe me. Cross my heart.
The moral of the story? The more flexible and adaptable you can be, the better. Commercials can be crazy.
Now sing along with me… “I’m going off the rails on a crazy train…” Thanks for understanding, Ozzy.
Laurie Records, Casting Director