by Casting Director, Laurie Records
…fail to understand that these things (really do!) happen…
I know that actors hear the stories. They hear that not getting a job may have very little to do with them, or their performance. You could be knocked out of contention for a role for about a million reasons and only one is because you weren’t any good. Actors self sabotage. That happens, too. I don’t know if you believe the stories, or if you are aware of the normal craziness that happens within one single job… so I will give you a glimpse. It may help you sleep better at night… it may change the way you prepare/interact at an audition. It is my sincere hope that it will shed some light.
Commercial actors should never fail to understand that these things happen…
Here are the very real things that happened on a single job I had within the past few months:
*An actor wasn’t given an audition time due to the fact that she is the spitting image of my ex’s current girlfriend. Am I embarrassed to admit this? Absolutely. I’d like to think I’m better than that, but alas, I’m human. I don’t even know that she was truly right for the role, what her resume was like, etc… I just moved as quickly past her submission as possible.
*An actor came in without preparing the sides. There was substantial dialogue and the first time the actor glimpsed at it was in the lobby, five minutes prior to coming in. He/she delivered a substantially less impressive audition than every other person in his/her category. The other actors had prepared the material. He/she had not. There was no contest. Will I remember that about him/her? Yes.
*An actor was complaining profusely (to ME!) about his/her meter almost being up. I’m not sure why I chose to engage, but I encouraged them to go feed the meter. He/She then explained (in an aggravated tone) that they would actually have to move their car because they were in a one-hour zone. Now, this was confusing to me because I brought them into the room approximately eight minutes after their appointment time. Eight minutes behind in commercial land = session running on time. Why he/she was having a meter/moving car issue, I don’t know. In hindsight they must have arrived early hoping to be seen early for whatever reason, but we were at lunch which made that an impossibility. In the end, he/she was so worked up over the meter situation (and possibly my response to it) that they delivered a pensive performance that was not appropriate for the likable role and I was annoyed.
Moral of the story: Don’t complain to the casting director. Don’t assume you can be seen early. If you believe you are going to have a parking situation, take care of it. When you are grumpy/angry/freaked out in the lobby, it affects your performance and reads on camera.
*A role changed from female to male. So… no one that came in for that role got a callback, no matter how brilliant they were. I’m guessing some were wondering what happened, why they didn’t receive a callback. Probably. I didn’t convey this information. There’s simply no time or method for that. Did some really, really good actors up for roles in which the gender did NOT switch fail to receive a callback? Yup. I don’t have an explanation for this… they weren’t what the client was looking for, I guess. But I know and I remember the ones that are great, and they will surely be called in again.
*The director said that he wanted to keep all callback actors who didn’t book the job on file, so that he could hire them for a future project, because they were ALL so good. None of the actors had the benefit of being gifted this knowledge… they only know that they didn’t get the job. Nevertheless, it’s true, and good news.
*An actor wasn’t available for one of the handful of shoot dates. The failure to be available for one day immediately took him/her off the table. He/She wouldn’t have been needed to shoot all days, but production wanted the actor to be available for all of them, to avoid a potential scheduling nightmare. Immediately out of the running.
*An actor, who completely fumbled one of their few lines in the callback, got the job. Fumbling a line is not a deal breaker. Don’t let it throw you.
*A friend/person who had previously worked with the director were hired over ones who came in for an audition.
*A celebrity was hired in place of an unknown (working!) actor.
*The reason an actor was taken out of the mix was because he/she was too good looking.
These things happen. I share to warn, enlighten, and encourage you. Now, go out and use this knowledge for good, why don’t you?
Laurie Records, Casting Director