by Casting Director, Laurie Records
I am a believer in the notion that the commercial actor should do something every day to further his/her acting career. I am not a big fan, however, of wasting one’s time. Sometimes, ambitious newbie (and surprisingly not so new) actors waste precious time and energy doing things in the name of the daily “furthering of the acting career.” They have been known to get awfully creative while continuing to use dead methods in pursuit of starting or enhancing their commercial career.
Drum roll please…
Commercial actors should never waste their creative juices on old school methods of furthering their commercial acting career.
As I reflect over the holidays and the first month of the new year, it hits me that commercial actors, on a regular basis, are wasting their time. What hurts most is that creativity is being expended and squandered in the process. What am I speaking of exactly? There are increasingly creative, even offbeat cover letters, cards, and DVDs (and frankly, all sorts of crazy things) being mailed to commercial casting offices. It baffles me that actors are still doing this, even though their methods are innovative. Let me be clear right off the bat. It’s a waste of time no matter how creative your angle or approach may be.
When I say that commercial actors should never mail unsolicited headshots and resumes to a commercial casting office, I mean it. No ifs, ands or buts. It doesn’t matter that you have the funniest cover letter ever. You may have a funny story, you may have a joke or you may just say that you don’t have any of these things. I don’t care if you have chosen to creatively go an entirely different route and ask the casting director to sign a petition or get behind a certain cause…admirable as it may be. This is not an effective use of your time.
I am not sure which commercial classes or books are still encouraging hard copy mailings. I know they are out there because some of you refer to them in your creative cover letters. It is an understatement to say that I disagree. Commercial casting is almost entirely (if not absolutely and completely) organized and conducted online. Envelopes are not being opened anymore. No matter how creative you are with your hard copy mailing, it is time (and money) wasted that you cannot get back because your envelope will not be opened. No one will laugh. No one will know how creative and beautiful or quirky you are because the envelope isn’t being opened. (I know, I know. I am repeating myself!!) This is not how you will book your first/next commercial.
How do I know about all the creative time and energy going into your mailings? Because I open them. Is this a “gotcha” moment? Unfortunately, no. I write articles that are read by commercial actors (obviously!) and I open these envelopes to know how actors are attempting to further their careers, not to discover a new actor for the commercial we are casting.
If you want to do something every day for your commercial career and you are hurting for ideas, turn on your TV and watch commercials, find a night job (so that you won’t miss an audition because of your day job), work out, submit yourself on Direct Cast jobs, read out loud, research commercial acting and the industry online, read a book, take a class, join a group of actors that share your goals and exchange knowledge and ideas, attend a seminar… Just don’t be tempted at anyone’s recommendation to send out a creative mailing to commercial casting directors. I think taking a nap (to make sure you are fresh and alert for your audition or class) would be a better use of your time than sending your photo and resume to a commercial casting office.
If you feel this topic is a no-brainer…I say congratulations! Feel good about being “in the know” and do something else today to further your commercial acting career. If this is news to you (or you thought that if you were really, really creative you could still mail a pic and resume in whatever form), stop wasting your time, money and creative energy on ineffective methods of furthering your career and use those creative juices productively!
Laurie Records, Casting Director