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read carefully

Things have changed in the industry over the years. One significant thing is the way in which information is passed on. When I started casting (mid 2006), associates wore headsets with a pesky wire connected to the phone because we were constantly taking and receiving calls. And this was AFTER Casting Networks came to town and casting directors had been emailing audition notices for a handful of years. I believe we were still calling out callbacks. For sure we were calling out avails and bookings. Lots of phone talk was happening that just isn’t as much any more. This little fact makes that emailed audition notice more and more important.

Commercial actors should never neglect to read their audition notice . . . carefully.

Why carefully? Well, there are several reasons. There are times a casting director may use the system (by sending an audition or callback notice) to convey info or ask talent to do things other than attend an actual callback/audition.

#1: Occasionally casting directors have talent self-tape a video audition or record a VO audition instead of requesting them to attend an audition at a studio. Do we pick up the phone and call 50-100 people? No, that’s just not a viable choice. We send out a audition notice and try to make two things clear: talent should NOT show up at the casting studio for an audition and instead give instructions for a self tape.

#2: Sometimes casting directors use the system to put out avails. It may look suspiciously like a callback notice or ANOTHER callback notice. I’ve found the quickest and most efficient way of putting out avails is in the form of a callback. Again, we try to make it clear that there is no additional callback, but that the purpose is to put the talent on avail.

#3: You may get a booking disguised as an audition or callback notice. I don’t know that this happens all the time, but I’m sure it happens. Desperate times call for desperate measures and if that’s the most viable choice to book talent under a time crunch, you can bet a casting director will do it, even for something as important as a booking.

So what should you read, exactly? Everything. EVERYTHING. You should read the email from top to bottom and if given the opportunity, you should click on “Go to your audition ticket” to get the most up to date information, which would be reflected on the actual job posting. But here’s where we leave important information: the message. It’s the email message, which is the last chance we casting directors have to impart info, so we tend to put the good stuff there, or reiterate the good stuff. And by good I mean important, of course.

Take a look at the audition address, even when you know where the casting director works out of. Why? Because that’s when we will let you know to not go anywhere, but to self tape instead, lay down some VO tracks, that you are on AVAIL, etc. Even if it’s a standard audition or callback notice with nothing tricky going on, we DO change studios from time to time, and production companies sometimes host the auditions to save some money. You really want to look at the audition address.

Last and certainly not least . . .

#4: There’s really important audition information on your notice!! The kind of stuff that will help you book the job. Yes, even when the casting director isn’t manipulating the system to do things it wasn’t designed to do, there is essential information to be found on each and every audition notice that arrives in your email. Read the role description for sure, it may give you insight into what we are looking for (i.e., improvisers, super relatable, subtle comedy). The wardrobe description not only has the ridiculously important wardrobe instructions, but can also have insight to the copy or what might be going on at the audition — we may even reiterate a studio change. We put these things in the wardrobe because, in theory, actors all read the wardrobe and you’ve been known not to read the other stuff quite as closely . . . or at all.

Yes, I could have written this column in one sentence: READ YOUR AUDITION NOTICES CAREFULLY AND THOROUGHLY. Reading your emailed audition notice very carefully will benefit you, and possibly greatly when you realize not all actors are. There can be tricky info and instructions being passed along, or simply the standard stuff, both of which will lead someone to book the job. It might as well be you booking the gig, and you up those chances substantially when you soak up every last drop of the information provided.

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Laurie Records (Casting Director, CCDA) has been working in the commercial realm since 2004. In 2009, Laurie launched her own company. While she casts all types of commercials, she has broadened her horizons to include casting web content for network television, television hosts, voiceover, industrials, and dabbles in casting features and short films. Recent commercial jobs include: Head & Shoulders, Mercedes, and KMART. She also cast the new Movie Surfers for seasons 16/17, as well as online content for The Muppets.