Casting director Arlene Schuster-Goss of ASG Casting came to distribute pearls of wisdom at our August seminar. Having been in Los Angeles since the ’80s and starting ASG Casting in the early ’90s (have you guessed what ASG stands for yet?), she had a ton of great tips to share with us. Below are the day’s five biggest takeaways.
1. Everyone’s Budgets Have Been Cut
Most everyone knows how the good old days of commercial acting used to be in the ’90s, or have at least heard it second-hand as I have. It was like, book a national, buy a house or something. But times have changed and budgets have been cut. Casting directors and production companies are hurting too. Where they used to have 5 days to cast 1 character, they now have 1-2 days to cast 16 characters. Not even the clients who are paying for everything are sitting pretty. The reason they’re not forking out as much money is because there aren’t as many eyeballs on their commercials. Gone are the days where we were all sitting in front of the tube to see who shot J.R. (not that I was watching that either since I hadn’t been born yet). It’s the circle of life and everyone’s feeling the pinch. Go forth into your auditions and shoots with a feeling of solidarity, not bitterness. And here’s hoping the state of television settles itself in a way that benefits us all.
2. Respect the Chain of Command
Ooooooh, girl or guy. If you know you were submitted to a project and weren’t called in, you do not want to go over a casting director’s head to be seen. I don’t care what favors you’re owed, that is not how you want to cash one in. The casting director had their reasons not to bring you in to audition. When you insert yourself into the process above them, you make them look bad. You want to work with this person again in the future, right? Don’t sacrifice countless future jobs just for this one that you might be wrong for anyway.
Now, if you weren’t submitted and you have a string or two to pull, that’s something you can delicately approach. But show due reverence and an appreciation to the casting director when you go in. You want to create mutually beneficial working relationships, not destroy them. Check out Laurie Records’s excellent, more in depth post on this.
3. STOP TWEETING DETAILS OF A PROJECT, YOU GUYS
NO! NAUGHTY ACTOR! BAD! STOP IT! Tweeting the details of a project is not your right. It’s like announcing what someone decided to name their baby before they had a chance to and it could very well cost you the job. What do we mean by details? Brand name, product, movie, TV show, general concept of commercial spot, e.g. there’s a creepy crooning moon who will haunt your childhood dreams. (Mac Tonight, anyone? right? remember? ::shudder::)
What don’t we mean by details you shouldn’t share? If you were in any way harassed or pressured to do something you felt uncomfortable with in your audition. Those are details of an audition you should definitely share – with us and with your representation, so that they are made to answer for that behavior and can be prevented from mistreating other actors. This isn’t Fame and you are not Coco. And if you don’t understand that reference, good Lord, what are you doing in this industry? Go educate yourself, fool.
4. Don’t Be Weird About Gifts
This one is short and sweet. You can send a thank you card after a job if you’re so inclined (and apparently casting directors like that), but don’t send an extravagant gift. It’s like a date. Would you send someone you just had a first date with a giant gift basket with a bottle of wine and figs and fruit and candy and a framed photo of you? Be cool, man. You want another date, right?
5. Take Comfort in the Odds
ASG made this chart. It lets you know the kind of odds you’re up against as a commercial actor. But instead of feeling overwhelmed, think of it this way: with casting directors looking at these kinds of numbers on a daily basis, it couldn’t possibly be a personal judgement on you that you weren’t selected. Stay focused and shrug off the jobs you don’t get. Just look forward to the one you will get.