by Casting Director, Terry Berland
Isn’t it amazing that you can meet a casting director or market yourself in some way, and at a seemingly unrelated future time, you get an audition from them?
When I meet a talent that I think is interesting or fabulously talented, I wish I had something to call the person in for the next day. Many times it takes a week, month, or even a year or two until the right thing for that particular talent comes along. Through the talent’s marketing or credits on TV shows or films I remember them and become increasingly more familiar with them.
Just recently I was casting a film and an actor I have known for years and have not auditioned for a long time, popped into my head as being right for the lead role. The actor asked me “who suggested me for the part?” I told him I thought of him immediately. He was shocked because I have not had him in to audition for a long time. I went on to say “It’s a good lesson. Just because you have not been called in, it does not mean that you have been forgotten”.
Because we are human, we need reminders. I can attest that in my experience it takes multiple times of seeing the person’s name and face in front of me to start feeling familiar with them. It’s good to remind a casting director of your existence. Find out how casting directors like to be communicated with and let them know periodically what you’ve been doing regarding bookings, change of agents, whatever. Stay active with theatre and showcases and let us know about it. It’s fortunate that there are professional ways set in place for networking opportunities such as CD’s seminars, showcases, online, Facebook and Twitter.
The longer I know someone, the more I’m going to remember them. Through the years I see them submitted, receive post card reminders, see their auditions or see them in the casting reception area at the studio I work out of. I, in particular, go to theatre because I enjoy it and I love to see actors on stage. I love being at a studio that has many casting sessions going on. Sometimes I stroll through the reception area just to see whom I’m going to see. Some actors recognize me and start up a little conversation. That’s smart of them. Little conversations throughout the years add up to you feeling very familiar. Remembering the right person at exactly the right time is tricky and sometimes inconsistent. You want to increase your chances through marketing or getting yourself “out there” in different ways. It is necessary and does not always show direct results. But trust the more you put yourself out there, the more chance you have of a result at some unexpected time. Many actors I speak to know the value of marketing. Here are a couple of examples that reflect typical experiences.
According to Kara Ortiz who is an actor and owner of a company called Amp Subs, ( a hard copy headshot submission service) “I keep a database of industry people on studio lots so when I go I can walk around and do drop-offs. I also keep a database of people’s birthdays and send cards every month to those on it.
I consider both activities integral to my marketing efforts, as they are part of the personal effort I cultivate relationships as opposed to simply ‘Hi I’m in such and such come see me’ marketing.
I had wardrobe for something on a studio lot and happened to notice in my records that a casting director on that lot was having a birthday. So while I was on the lot, I had delivered a card to her.
I walked in and gave it to her assistant and left. As I was walking outside, the casting director tapped on the window and motioned for me to come back inside. She asked for my headshot, which of course I had on me. We chatted for literally just a minute and I headed out the door. About three months later I got a call from my commercial agent who quizzically said/asked ‘you have an audition for a movie’. It was cast by non other than the casting director I had delivered the birthday card to. This ended up being my first studio film role. The best part? I got to take my daddy to New York for the red carpet premiere. :)”
Barbara Kerford who works for The Actor’s Key says “I always thought I was doing what I needed to be doing, taking the occasional workshop, getting new headshots, doing the occasional mailing, but until my marketing became consistent I didn’t have any results. It wasn’t until I started doing monthly postcards– that I started to really see results. Now I audition weekly. For a while it was just to people I knew, but now I am also auditioning with people I’ve never met. Marketing is a key part of this industry. I was talking to another actor and she was asking how I was going out on so many auditions. She complained that she had just booked two guest star roles and did not see an increase in her audition activity. I asked how she was telling people about it and she told me she was leaving it up to her manager–that is one way of doing it, but it is up to the individual actor to be out there hustling for themselves.
A postcard, no matter what it says, tells the industry that you are working. Find something to brag about or to congratulate a CD about. Take any business course and they will tell you lack of marketing is why so many businesses fail.”
Lia Fischer says: “I always tell actors that it’s about forming relationships, not impressions. What does this mean? I’m an Associate at EMH Productions, an educational Casting Director Workshop company. I’ve seen many actors take one workshop and get discouraged. What I’ve found, is that the actors (including myself!) get called in after seeing a CD twice or more. For example, I had nine theatrical auditions last year solely based on the CD calling me in. (not though my agent!) For these nine auditions, which included co-stars, guest stars, and one big fat feature film lead role audition. I saw each CD twice or more per year, kept in contact with each one of them regarding the webisodes I was in and the commercial I starred in, Facebook friended them successfully; and all in all, remained friendly and in touch. When I went into to audition at 90210, the CD gave me a hug (which is becoming pretty normal for me nowadays), and said, ‘Lia! I love hearing about all your success in your commercial and webisode! I saw your commercial on TV the other day and you were hysterical!’ It’s not about seeing a CD once in their office or at a workshop and expecting magic to happen. It’s about building relationships with CDs to brand yourself.”
Jodie Bentley and Kevin Urban of The Savvy Actor, a company that empowers actors to think like small business owners by creating and implementing an effective business plan has this to say: “In order to market yourself effectively, you must know what you’re selling. BRANDING is the foundation of all our marketing . Once you’ve defined your brand, you have to market it with consistency. Consistency is the key to successful marketing. Consistency is the #1 rule of marketing that most actors either lose faith in or forget. We want to be all things to all people. We want to show them we can do it all. Being focused and consistent will build trust in your brand – your product. Everything you do to promote yourself and your brand falls under marketing. You need specific marketing strategies to achieve each of your career goals. It’s about having strategies and systems in place to take the emotion out of marketing.
I hope hearing the casting director viewpoint and what talent do who believe in marketing, will help you move your career forward.
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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.”