by Casting Director, Terry Berland
Our ability to communicate directly to actors through the various breakdown services is a mixed bag of good and bad for agents and casting directors that comes with the territory of the progress of internet communication in all walks of life. It’s great to have more opportunities for both parties to communicate with each other during these searches. It’s an opportunity to throw the net further out during the prepping of casting, to find the gems and the unexpected, during this search part of the casting process.
With this process, there are obvious pitfalls. One being casting bombarded by additional submissions by many actors submitting themselves for everything and anything, seemingly not being able to determine what they are really right for. An extreme example is men submitting for a female role and visa versa, just to put their faces in front of the Casting Director. We all know that this does no one any good. It’s obvious that if a talent self-submits over and over again for the wrong thing, they will soon not be taken seriously, to say the least.
In addition, there is a dangerous territory that is not always obvious and a bit complicated related to “conflicts” that talent must be aware of before self-submitting. It is obvious not to submit yourself willy nilly when it comes to conflicts with a “wait and see” attitude. Beware not to submit yourself, wait and see if you get the audition, then actually audition, “wait and see” if there is interest and then inform the casting director that you have a conflict.
The second scenario that is a bit more complicated regarding conflicts is the fact that there is a time period when your contract is ending and the agency and the agent can renegotiate the renewal of your contract. I’m going to refer to this as the “sweet spot.”
Talent, beware you are not free of a conflict until your contract, which involves a product conflict, is actually released.
First, you must be aware if your contract is ending and your agent is about to enter the re-negotiation stage. You are not available to work on another job with the same conflicts until you have an actual written release in your hand. Of course you may always choose not to re-negotiate your contract.
The best advice I can give you if you submit yourself, is that as soon as you are called in to audition you inform your agent and turn everything over to them. As soon as your agent takes over they should be aware if you have a conflict and/or if your contract is in the stages of re-negotiation
Catch the error, immediately. If your agent has to pull you out of the running, do so at an early stage. No harm done.
If you let the error go on further down the selection process you are in essence “throwing the casting director under the bus.” Part of the casting director’s responsibility is to present talent to the Creative Team who are eligible and available for the job. That includes, dates the jobs works, agreement of payment, and free of conflicts.
In commercials, the selection process happens quickly. The team responsible for choosing the talent will be greatly perturbed if the talent they put their time into “falling in love” with, envisioning making their character come alive, and preparing to sell to the client, ends up not being available. In addition there is the very real problem of lack of time to go through the process to find someone else. Because of the lack of time, it becomes a scramble for the creative team causing a lot of stress to meet the deadlines.
This final selection part of the process is based on trust and in essence the talent that has not paid attention to conflicts has failed in his part of the process. The casting director is on the front line dodging the bullets hearing every disturbance from the creative team regarding “how did this happen!”, loud and clear
Contracts ending and availability of conflicts are tricky. Let’s stay working as a well-oiled machine. Hopefully this article can help you through the booking process that is based on accurate information and trust. The best advice I can give you is to inform your agent immediately if you get an audition on your own. Keep booking and stay booking.
Any reproduction or usage of this article on other websites must be credited to Terry Berland, Casting Director and linked back to here.
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Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voice-over, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has lent to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”