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Laurieby Casting Director, Laurie Records

A multi part series for the not-so-established actor, hoping to improve their career.

Ok, there is no easy way to say this, so I am just going to come out with it- Commercial Actors should NEVER get crabby during a callback.

Now I have done it.  I have suggested the impossible.  Don’t think I don’t know it.  Callbacks are an inherently frustrating situation; at least they are at times.  Why is it that one day you can attend a callback at your local casting office and you walk in 10 minutes early, sign in, do your audition, and waltz out the door… and the next time at the same office, you arrive the usual 10 minutes early, sit for over an hour with no one telling you what is going on (or when they do, they claim they have no control over the situation), people who came later than you are going in first, the script just changed, you get in the room and blow it in front of clients who are eating lunch during your audition???

Seriously, don’t get crabby.  You have and will hear this your entire acting career.  If you sit and get all steamed up, you WILL blow it in the room.  As much as you think you can be all jacked up one minute, shake it off and be Susie Cream Cheese the next, you can’t.  It shows.  The actors whining or stomping in the waiting room aren’t the ones who book the job, and it isn’t for the reason you think.  There is no retaliation from casting or the clients.  It is simply because your frustration shows.

Callbacks are strange.  Anything can happen.  Casting, production, and the ad agency all have the best intentions in the beginning.  The casting director takes great care to create a comfortable schedule for the clients to spend just the right amount of time with the actors.  But, any number of crazy things can happen.  The client gets caught up at the hotel, and comes to the callback session 40 minutes late.  It is hard to make up time.  Usually even the seasoned directors fall a smidge behind… and that is who is calling the shots in the room.  Best-case scenario, the actors scheduled at the end of the session are waiting almost an hour after their call time (and the overachievers come early!!)  There are conference calls that surprisingly come up in the middle of a session, and it all may come to a screeching halt.  The clients may have wanted to see certain couples together, and forgot to mention that request to casting… hence actors who arrived after you may be seen first.  It is truly at the whim of the clients.  They can be warned, advised and pleaded with by casting, but sometimes the threat of paying thousands of dollars in overtime doesn’t faze the client when other priorities, for whatever reason, must come first.

You are human, and under these circumstances, your blood pressure may rise.  It is tempting to take it out on the casting assistant working the door.  I assure you, that person couldn’t be farther from the one responsible, nor know what the heck the hold up is!  They know that the room is full of actors and that the session is behind.  Trust that if they are informed of what is going on, they will make an announcement.  If you have some place you need to be, you can inform the assistant, but let’s face it; everyone has other places to be.  It’s doubtful that will get you in any earlier.  If you have another callback… or fitting you need to be at, call your agent, and they can call the office.  If arrangements can be made to get you in, that is likely how it will happen.  If they can’t, you may just have to leave.  Talk to your agent and let them talk to the casting director, this will get you a lot further than harassing the casting assistant.  Really avoid the self-loathing statements like, “I should just leave, I won’t get it anyway.”  It will only annoy the assistant, and you will walk in the door of the studio exuding that energy.  Suddenly your chances really do go to zero.

Take some time to review the boards.  Make sure you are up to date and familiar with the sides, and crack a magazine or newspaper that you brought along with you for just these instances.  When do you normally have a chance in your busy day to just sit and look at the paper?  Look at it as a moment in your day to relax and read.  Hopefully you won’t even have a chance to take it out of your bag, but it is nice to have it along just in case.  Weird things happen at callbacks.  The casting director is not calling the shots.  Someone is going to book the job.  It might as well be you and your good attitude.

Commercial Actors should NEVER get crabby during a callback.

Laurie Records, Casting Director