A multi part series for the not-so-established actor, hoping to improve their career.
A couple of months ago, I addressed the topic of you, the actor, calling a casting office directly. In case you missed it, you can check the Archives. Or, if you don’t have the time or patience, the nutshell: Don’t do it! Over the last couple of months, I have even more examples of the calls that seem to be increasingly coming in from actors, or more broadly stated: I have been noticing a simple breakdown of etiquette when visiting or calling a commercial casting office. I refuse to believe commercial actors have suddenly become malicious or are purposely sabotaging their reputations with a casting office. I believe it comes from the fact that this industry is constantly changing, and composed of tenacious actors, who don’t know what is currently appropriate and what isn’t with all the changes.
Commercial actors should never forget etiquette when visiting/contacting a commercial casting office.
Let’s start with dropping by a commercial casting studio. As a general rule, I will tell you to save the gas and the cost of an 8×10. Absolutely, commercially speaking, do not mail your picture and resume (unless specifically asked to do so) EVER. It doesn’t get opened. It goes in the garbage. I honestly wouldn’t recommend randomly stopping by a casting director’s office to drop it off either. But if you have time and money burning a hole in your pocket, remember some basic etiquette. Leave it with the lowest man or woman on the totem pole. Don’t ask for the casting director, hoping to put it in their hands. It isn’t going to happen. That’s why they employ a staff, so they don’t have to talk to folks dropping by. Simply put, they are attending to more important things, like casting a commercial… which is a good thing, really. Politely ask that the assistant give the photo, resume, and reel to the casting director and leave it at that. Let’s be honest. They may or may not do it. Have I mentioned that I don’t recommend this? If you don’t see an assistant, knock on the office door… even if it is open!! Don’t just walk into an office, no matter how casual the atmosphere seems to be!! You are entering someone’s space. Ask permission. Say, “Excuse me.” Ask if you can drop off your stuff. Don’t assume it is ok. Ask. The office will either take it, and most likely throw it away (no one has hard copy files any more!) or they will tell you they don’t accept hard copy submissions, for exactly the same reason I just mentioned. I don’t mean to sound harsh. I really, truly am trying to save you the time and money. Commercially speaking, it is all done online.
If you feel like leaving an 8 x 10 for the office while at an audition (not wasting time and gas… just a little cash on the pic) I would suggest leaving it with the offices that haven’t called you in. The office that called you in already knows you and is interested. If you feel like sneaking a photo and resume under the door after hours to be considered for a particular job… make sure you are dropping it off at the right office. I have received more submissions for a job we weren’t working on than I can count. It doesn’t say much for your attention to detail, either. If you insist on a drop off, make sure it isn’t wasted on the wrong office.
I think there is also the temptation to want to say hello to the casting director, in person, when called in (for many, obvious reasons). If the commercial casting director isn’t directing the session himself or herself, it is usually an indication of numerous jobs going on simultaneously, or how long they have been in the business. As a rule, don’t ask to meet them, don’t walk into their office… even if the door is open, and don’t try to stop them for a conversation when they are walking through the lobby. If they happen to be strolling and chatting with actors, go for it. If they aren’t, don’t. Take the cue from them. And leave them alone if you happen to run into them in the restroom. That’s just embarrassing.
Let’s spend another moment on actors calling the casting office directly. The story (and I am sticking to it) is: Don’t call a commercial casting office, unless requested to do so. You have to do it through your agent… ask your agent the question, and they will call casting if they don’t have the answer. Don’t call a casting office to notify them of an agent change. It happens instantly online. If you were called in though your former agent for a job, the job will be completed through them if you are booked. If a casting director calls an agent you are no longer with, no worries! They will inform the office that you are no longer with them and the CD will do a search to find the current agent info. If you were dropped from your agency, and don’t have a new agent, I suggest a personal account on LA Casting, so that commercial casting directors can perform a search and find a direct contact number for you. If you call the casting office to inform them, they will be annoyed and have no place to notate the info, except on a post-it which is always garbage bound. All changes happen through the wonderful worldwide web.
There are a million excuses to call a commercial casting office, and that is exactly what they are… excuses. Seriously, your agent must make the call for you unless the casting office has specifically requested a call from you. And (I can’t believe I am saying this, but) for the love of god, if you do ignore my advice and call the office directly… talk to the person who answers the phone. Don’t ask for the casting director. You can get whatever you need from the associate/assistant… that way you will only aggravate the assistant and not the king or queen themselves.