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Terry Berlandby Casting Director, Terry Berland

Thank you for being part of our team of Casting Directors, Producers, Writers and Directors. Or are you?

If you are not sure you really have the competitive edge to be considered an appreciated part of our team, check out this list.

Follow directions on breakdown submissions. 
Sometimes we ask for notes to be included on your submissions. We possibly have thousands of photos and resumes to look at and this request is designed to expedite the process in the short amount of time we are given to prep.

Example: if we are looking for someone who can dance, we might ask you to write a note on your submission regarding your dance experience. By the way, that would be a short note. You might ask yourself, “why do I need to write a note when my resume clearly reflects dance? Certainly if I am submitting I have dance experience.” Answer: half of our submissions do not meet the specifications of our requests. It takes a lot of time to click on each photo and look through every resume. Stemming from this fact, we scan the submissions and open the ones with notes first. If we have 150 with notes, our needs are more than satisfied and we might not be able to take the time to look through the other nine hundred submissions. This is a very frustrating experience for agents who are always on target and only submit talent who fit the specifications. Their submission process has certainly been dumbed down by the overpowering mediocrity of many submissions.

Resume. Always include a resume. Even if you’re a beginner, it’s important. Some actors actually don’t have a resume on their submissions. A professional actor with their package put together will have a resume. With so many actors who do have resumes submitted, I think it goes without saying the actors without a resume will fall by the wayside and won’t be considered.

Include a reel. I will look at the talent who have reels before the ones who don’t. Certainly, I will gravitate to the talent I can hear speak, see their attitudes and experience their essence. If you don’t have a body of work for a reel, it is easy to find a place around town with a good reputation, to record professional looking scenes.

Put your reel on Casting Networks. Many actors place their reels on Breakdown Services because it is slanted more towards theatrical breakdowns and not Casting Networks, which is known more as a commercial breakdown service. That is old school thinking. Commercial Casting Directors look at reels. We are not looking to see what commercials you have done, we are looking at your body of work. When I know I want to see reels, many times I try to prep from both Casting Networks and Breakdown Services. When prep time starts to run out, I give up on the site that has fewer reels and I’m forced to switch to the site that is more reel oriented. A reel gives you a competitive edge.

NOTE: You will have the competitive edge on Casting Networks if you have a reel included on your profile.

Dress towards the part. We get directions from our client and we pass the direction on to you. Those who look right for the part have a competitive edge over those that don’t. If the part is for an office worker, the person who is dressed like an office worker fits the part better than the one who is wearing torn jeans. There is a definite feeling that the talent dressed right feels involved with the entire process. There are times the talent is given a call at the last minute and have to rush over to the casting session. Come to the session even if you aren’t wearing the proper clothing. If we requested you, we would rather have you than not. We appreciate that you answered our call so quickly.

Photo and Resumes at call backs. We request you to bring a photo and resume for your call back. As a Casting Director I greet you, glance at your resume, talk to you for a few moments usually referring to something on your resume, feel a connection to you and then bring you into the room and introduce you to the creative team. Recently, fifty-five percent of the actors at a call back I was running had no photo and resume with them. When I asked for one, they said to me “it’s online.” I was left in a lurch, empty handed. I walked the person in the room with no resume to glance at for a quick refresher enabling me to establish a quick connection. The actor who gave me no photo and resume knows NOTHING about relationship. As far as I’m concerned, that actor would have been satisfied if an intern who they will never see again walked them into the room.

Upon entering the room, I placed the size card without a photo and resume in front of the creative team and they looked with no interest at the size card. Again, the actor was giving the creative team no additional information about themselves. During the selection process when it came down to the creative team being interested in an actor who did not hand in a photo and resume I had to set up a computer for the director and producer to view the information. Then my assistant had to go back to the office and print the resume and photo to give to the creative team for them to
take to the pre-production meeting.

You can definitely book a job even though you did not bring that photo and resume. But realize how the Casting Director utilizes your photo and resume upon greeting you, introducing you to creative team and during the selection process after you leave the room. Hopefully we can eliminate the glib statement, “you can find it online.” In the recent experience I am referring to, my director had previously won an Academy Award and is currently nominated for another. The actor has in essence said to him…”you can look me up online”.

Personally, I feel the actors who do not bring me a photo and resume couldn’t care less if I knew anything about them. Yet, oddly enough, of course they want a Casting Director to know them enough to bring them into the casting sessions. Hmmmm, interesting.

Casting Directors truly appreciate actors who are prepared and understand the process. Everyone is looking for a spark of connection and relationship in what has become an online, depersonalized, digital business. The act of a Casting Director greeting you, asking for your photo and resume and looking at it, having a one minute conversation with you and walking you into the room is a great chance for a moment of connection.

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.”