Mailing a hardcopy headshot and resume to commercial casting directors is a thing of the past, certainly in Los Angeles. I think we can all give a collective shout of approval for that! It’s a huge financial savings to actors and a step in the right direction for the environment. Like everything else, the way of the Internet is the way of the commercial casting industry. You submit yourself and/or your agent submits you on commercial and print jobs online daily. It only makes sense that you create and maintain your industry relationships in the same manner. Have an update or a booking to report? I’m a strong advocate of communicating this information online. Sure, you can post your exciting news or new headshots on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You should definitely update your personal website and your online actor profiles. But you may want to personally share this information with some casting directors. Email is the obvious way to do this, but not any ‘ol willy-nilly email will do. Actors are getting creative; sometimes in the best way, and other times, not so much.
Commercial actors should never send unprofessional emails to a casting director.
Let me be clear from the get-go. I’m a fan of actors sending emails to maintain industry relationships. I’m not a fan of actors sending ineffective/weird emails.
Let’s go quick and dirty this month!
- Use your full name. You’d be surprised how many emails I get from first name only actors. And I don’t mean in the “Cher” way.
- Include contact information. You can choose to leave either personal or agent contact info, as long as you give some way to contact you other than email.
- Include links. (Casting Networks, BDS, IMDB, personal website, Twitter, YouTube, whatever!) Links are far superior to attachments (I rarely/never open them).
- Relay interesting/exciting information, e.g. the job you booked, the play you are in, the standup show you are hosting, the class you just completed, the headshot session you just had. If you want an industry professional to attend your show, ideally you’d offer them a comp.
- Use an email service or just a simple regular ‘ol email. I don’t think it matters, really, but there are some services that can really make keeping in touch/relaying the victories very fun and pleasing to the eye.
- Do your research. Know the job titles and duties performed by the industry professionals you are contacting. Make sure you aren’t asking a casting director for representation or an agent for an audition.
- Follow up when a casting director asks you to.
- Email a digital copy of a postcard you are mailing to your theatrical industry people.
- Remind the casting director how you know them, if you do. Let them know who introduced you, the workshop you attended, or the audition/callback you had with them. It will help jog their memory.
- Use misleading subject lines. Don’t “trick” a CD into reading your email. Either they will open it or they won’t, but trickery is more likely to annoy them than get you on their good side.
- Follow up on an unsolicited email, inquiring whether they got it or not. They got it. Feel great about the times you receive a response when emailing an industry pro, but you shouldn’t demand one, nor expect one.
- Email too often. Remember, you are likely emailing a stranger or acquaintance. How often would you like to be contacted by someone you don’t really know?
- Forget to spellcheck/proofread.
- Use terms/ideas that are out of date or not appropriate. I’m surprised how many times I’ve been asked if a talent can “register” with me (a term/process used for extra work), or if they can be added to my files (there are no files), or asked for a general audition (VERY rare in commercial casting). This type of email leads me to believe you haven’t studied up on the industry and are green. It’s fine to be green, but take some classes, read, and talk to knowledgable people before reaching out to industry professionals.
- Ask how to get into acting. This is a gigantic question and entire books have been written on the subject. It’s not one that can be answered in three sentences or less. Read about this topic in reputable industry publications (like this one!).
- Be inappropriate. If you find a casting director attractive, keep that to yourself. Don’t ask him or her out. This is weird, folks. Keep those emails professional.
- Send nude photos. Ever. Enough said. Inappropriate.
- Use incorrect words/terms. Know your vocabulary. The word “casted” is a no. There is no “casting agent” (at least, not in the U.S.); there is the casting director and the talent agent. A great way to learn terminology is by reading reputable industry publications. I would not trust random blogs, social media, or chat rooms for correct terminology. Do chat rooms still exist? Don’t get your vocab from non-reputable sources.
In general, I’d say keep your emails to industry pros short, sweet, and professional. Professional doesn’t mean without personality, it just means professional. Follow the “Do’s” suggestions and you’ll stay out of the ineffective-email-sender category. Avoid the “Dont’s” suggestions and you’ll steer clear of being labeled a weird/inappropriate actor.
Now go out there and maintain those industry relationships . . . appropriately, professionally, and with style!
**Want to take a 4-week Commercial Class with Laurie Records? Check it out and sign up now at: www.laurierecordscasting.com.**