by Casting Director, Laurie Records
Avails are a good thing. You may think I’m crazy to have stated something so obvious. But I *do* feel the need to say it and I’ll even take it a step further and ask you to remind yourself of that every now and then. The whole avails process makes more than a few actors a little cuckoo. When on avail, actors can overanalyze, obsess, and become overwhelmed by anxiety. Avails are a good thing, remember that.
Commercial actors should never forget to take a deep breath when placed “on avail”.
Knowledge is power, so I’ll tell you what I know…
What’s taking so long? You’ve probably wondered this very thing from time to time after being placed on avail. The answer is: It could be anything. Really. I can’t begin to list the reasons why…
But, know this: When you have been placed “on avail” you are being considered for the role. You are on the short list. You may be first choice, you may be the backup… you may be one of several backups. Most of the time you won’t be gifted this information. Even if you are, it doesn’t mean much. Backups are booked all the time. Let it go.
You may be put on avail as soon as the evening of the callback (more often the morning after) all the way through the end of the shoot. You may be holding that entire time… yes, through the day before the end of the shoot. How is it possible you could legitimately be held so long? The job hasn’t been entirely cast. Perhaps they are deciding whether or not to cut your role. Something could be going wrong. When production feels like they are on shaky ground (and predictably, I’ll tell you again, it could be anything) … when in doubt, they will keep all potential actors holding to cover their bases. Is that convenient for you? I can’t imagine it would be, but you have no control over it. Let it go.
A great clue into how strongly you are being considered after waiting what seems to be an extraordinary amount of time is that the Casting Director reconfirms your avail, or checks in to be sure you are still holding. Big clue. Take that seriously. You still have a chance. And, truthfully you always have a chance while remaining “on avail”. It’s just that sometimes your chances are stronger than others. You really won’t know. Let it go.
Some things that may help:
Know yourself. If avails make you crazy, figure out a way to forget about it. I know of agents who choose not to tell actors when they are placed on avail. They only alert them at the time of booking. I think this is a daring choice. The book-out system (actor letting agent know when they are NOT available to work) has to be flawless in this situation. But it works with some agencies, and I can see the wisdom. Avails make a lot of actors crazy.
If an avail encourages and excites you, relish them. Bookings always do… but I mean avails. The truth is, it’s a GREAT sign. You are doing the right thing when in auditions and callbacks. Avails are fantastic, even when you don’t book the job. But not all actors can keep a hold of that perspective. And that’s understandable, too. Know yourself.
Tell people or don’t tell people. I’ve heard from actor friends that keeping the “avails” news to themselves makes the process easier. That way, then the booking doesn’t come through; no announcement of perceived failure is necessary. And I’ll remind you that in reality, an avail with no booking as a result is hardly a failure. It’s just the opposite. But it may not feel like it at the time. Especially after many times. You have the option to keep this news to yourself or share with a few trusted friends or family members. There is no requirement to shout out an avail from the mountaintops.
Got an avail? Feel great about it, hold the date(s) and let it go.
Laurie Records, Casting Director