Confirms, cancels, and *crickets* oh my!
A long time ago, before the notion of being a casting director was even a twinkle in my eye, I was given the very basic goal of a commercial casting director for every session they hold. It is as follows: to have a full day’s worth of appropriate actors (talented is understood) on tape to send to the client at the end of the day. I fundamentally agree. As simple as that may seem; I assure you there are somewhere between a few to many hurdles to jump to achieve this goal.
Commercial actors should never forget to confirm or cancel their audition appointment, and do so in a timely manner.
Depending on the market you live and work in, the process of confirming a commercial audition may vary. I’m fortunate to be casting in the large Los Angeles market and the confirmation process is wildly easy. Talent are sent all project and audition details via email (with a text alert, in some cases) and they have the option to confirm or cancel by the click of a button. Hooray for ease! If you are in a smaller market, you may have to pick up the phone… but let’s be honest, that isn’t difficult either.
Why then, is getting confirmations sometimes like pulling teeth? I have a few theories.
I believe the caliber of job has a lot to do with an abundance, or lack thereof, of confirmations. When I’m casting a SAG national network commercial, with the potential of a lovely payday, getting actors to confirm their audition (and actually show up) is excessively easier than let’s say, a SAG industrial, with a lesser payday. Non-union jobs are even more challenging and when the payday is minimal, it can be excruciating. I also believe the general business of the industry is a factor as well. When it is “super busy out there,” talent may have to prioritize auditions, again going back to the caliber of the project as a factor.
As a casting director, it isn’t lost on me that I must have different expectations for actor response/turnout for different projects. I consider carefully in scheduling jobs each and every time, based on the type of job, the age groups/gender of actors being seen, what the weather forecast is… all these things. We can put in all the care and consideration in the world to calling in the right amount of actors, but in the end, commercial casting directors are very dependent on your timely response to confirm/cancel and follow through to have a successful day of casting. VERY dependent.
Here are some things to think about next time you are tempted to put off confirming your audition appointment (for whatever reason) or confirming and not showing up… (Or confirming and showing up at a completely different time. I could go on and on and on…).
Big SAG jobs and little non-union jobs often times come from the same big commercial production company. All their jobs are important to them. Their expectations are the same, I assure you. The casting director doesn’t think less of the job; their reputation is on the line each and every job. We are constantly proving ourselves to be worthy of the next job. You, the actor, (and possibly your agent, although their reputation is on the line as well) may be the only one not making the audition a priority. Your reputation *is* on the line. Big job or little. I don’t necessarily know when an actor is a no-show on a big SAG job, because there are a million other actors on-time and ready to go. The small non-union job, or lesser SAG job… I’m likely freaking out that you are not present. Not only do I need a magic number at the end of the day, to make my client feel like they have a reasonable amount of actors to view, but I have to micromanage the individual roles as well. It doesn’t really matter if I saw 20 dads when I only had 12 moms show up. Does that make sense?
Bottom line: confirm your audition within a couple of hours (before the end of the business day, ideally) and show up.
When you confirm and don’t arrive, there is no opportunity to replace you. That is a big problem if you remember the basic goal of a commercial casting director. When you don’t confirm or cancel… we don’t know what to do. If we replace too many “crickets” (my term… when there’s no word, just the sound of crickets) and all the unconfirmed/cancelers DO show up, I have a huge backup in my lobby. Boo. We all hate that. If I don’t replace at all or enough non-responders, I don’t have enough actors per role on tape. I hurt my chances of being hired again.
Confirming and not showing is likely the worst offense. You can give all the right excuses… the ones we supposedly can’t hold against you, but true or not (and it’s always a mix of both) we still have to get enough people in our studio and put them on tape, or we have failed.
Give careful consideration to these things the next time you have an audition notice appear in your inbox. The casting director appreciates your timely confirmation, and even cancellation, I assure you. But all of that is for naught when you are a no-show or out of timeframe… consider that too. And, know that your presence, effort and talent are recognized and valued.