by Casting Director, Laurie Records
…neglect to make fans out of industry professionals.
You want a Casting Director, or any industry professional, to be a fan of yours. Surely, you’ve heard the concept of having the goal to “win over the office” in an audition, versus booking the job. I couldn’t support this notion more. When a casting office is enamored with you, they will call you in again and again. You’ll book a job sooner or later. In Laurie lingo… I say that I’m a “fan” of various actors. I’ve had the luxury/honor of letting a few actors know from time to time when I’m not behind in a session and feel so inspired. The usual response is disbelief or confusion. I’m not sure if the response comes from not knowing a Casting Director could be a fan, or if it’s because it’s me… not knowing I’ve been watching their work since my casting associate days (yes, folks… that’s why you should be lovely to all folks ALL the time… the pee-ons become big dogs at some point). They don’t know me, but I know them. Who knows and who cares why I get the response I get. The important piece of information is that Casting Directors can be (and are, hopefully) fans of yours. If they aren’t already, how can you go about making them fans?
Commercial actors should never miss the opportunity to make a fan out of a Casting Director.
If I were to nutshell the answer, it would be: Do great work, and be nice. I am a fan of actors who are ridiculously talented and are kind. Period. And I’m not the only one. But that is a pretty vague answer, and likely not the most helpful for your endeavors.
Lucky for you, I recently came across an actor of whom I am a fan. I will share in not-too-specific terms how he went from having an “I don’t know who you are” actor status to “I’m a fan of you” actor status, in my book… play by play. This is his path, his journey… but one path worth looking at.
*I was casting a deferred pay web series. Commercial Casting Directors sometimes cast low budget films, independent TV, web videos… whatever-love-projects from time to time for many reasons. But we do them. This actor submitted himself. I vaguely recognized his photo from my casting associate days… maybe. Nothing terrible came to mind, at least. His resume was ok. His reel was ok. I decided to give him a chance.
*He came in and blew me away. Really stinking good. Nice guy. Totally professional. Everyone loved him. He didn’t book the job.
*I was casting another deferred pay web series many, many months later and I called him in again. He was wildly good, again… and this time booked the job. Now, 99% of the time, I’m very proud of the independent, non-commercial stuff I cast. I, unfortunately, ended up being less than completely proud of this one… it does happen. He was hired on a bummer job.
Now, crawl inside my mind for a moment. I think he’s a genius actor. I think he’s a nice guy. He’s consistent and reliable… and he has made a gargantuan effort to come and rock two deferred pay auditions requiring substantial preparation, and was brilliant on set of a less than perfect shoot. I owe him. I cast commercials. Anything from huge SAG national commercials to small non-union gigs. I owe him some opportunities on big payday jobs. This is how I see it. Certainly I can’t vouch that all casting directors are so conscientious. I’m not burned out or bitter after casting 25 years (and not that all 25 year vets are… but surely some qualify)… I’m still an enthusiastic casting baby; love my job and actors as well.
*I have called him in on various commercials. When he knows I’m casting a biggie and hasn’t heard from me, I get a very respectful email with his agent’s info, in case I’d like to call him in. He always says hello when he’s at the audition… if I’m not running around like a chicken with my head cut off. If I am, he smiles. He’s prepared, professional, and consistently good… and nice. Don’t forget nice.
*We are Facebook friends and he follows me on twitter. Every blue moon he interacts with me in some way. For the most part, he simply updates his status with what he’s working on, and posts videos of what’s out. I am compelled to watch what he posts. I owe that to him, I want to call him in, and I want to see his current work. I just learned today that he booked a hosting gig. I watched 5 minutes of him do his thing. I watch out of loyalty… out of my own self-induced obligation. I’m a fan.
He doesn’t go overboard… or even take advantage of nearly all the tools that are completely acceptable for an actor to use to stay in touch and maintain/build a relationship with an industry professional. But, he has found just the right amount of “doing” for me. I haven’t forgotten him. He is on my radar. I think he knows this… but I’d expect he’d be awfully surprised to know I’m using him as an example in this column. Again, this is just one example. Surely you have your own method of industry “fan-making”. If you don’t, you should.
It’s entirely possible I’m the exception to the rule. I’ll be bold in saying that ALL Casting Directors have a LONG memory… for the times an actor has wronged or embarrassed them. We hold grudges. Not because we are bad people, but because we can never knowingly allow that to happen again. The actor becomes a risk, due to their previous poor behavior. But some, like myself, also have a long memory for the actors that have done us a favor, were willing to work on a no pay job, volunteered, or even just showed patience and kindness at a time they didn’t have to. Some of us pay attention to that. Make a fan out of us, out of all of us. And know some will be harder to win over than others… and that’s how it is.
Laurie Records, Casting Director