End of the Year

2019 has been the biggest work rollercoaster I have ever experienced in all the years I have been casting.

I have had less commercials to cast then ever before and so many of them with tighter budgets.  I still consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. It’s harder but I have managed to readjust and keep my business going.

I’ve seen the changes coming and kept hoping the commercial advertising business would see where things were going a few years ago and start to rethink things.

I’m not talking union versus nonunion. I’m talking about all the streaming services. They have offered up a different way to watch content and I’m finding that people under the age of 30 are getting rid of cable TV and just streaming. The millennial, Gen X’s and Gen Z’s have not realized what they’re missing by not seeing commercials and don’t seem to even consider watching Broadcast TV. Obviously older people are getting subscriptions to streaming services but I think they are watching all mediums.

I have found the quality of broadcast TV… episodic, sitcoms etc. are getting better and better but I still can’t convince my kids to give it a chance.

They seem to prefer streaming and binge watching.  It’s all they know. They see .06 sec ads on platforms like twitter and Instagram and I think they just blow through them. They need to learn the value of commercials.

At this point I hope we are moving in the direction of adding commercials on all the streaming services. It can be done in a way that doesn’t constantly interrupt shows.

I think people need product options so when they go to the supermarket, without even knowing it, they are drawn to products that they have seen ads for. I think it’s subliminal, but hasn’t that always been the idea.

If you see 4 different types of toilet paper at the store maybe something you have seen an ad for (without even realizing it) may help in making a decision.

Isn’t that sort of how it’s always been done?

We used to look to see what ad was better at getting attention. Now we need to figure out a way to get people’s attention at all.

I don’t have the answers. I can only relay what I’m experiencing and how badly it is affecting the business for casting directors, talent agents, managers and actors.

This same thing happened with the music industry. Napster and music streaming services started and artists were not selling music anymore. I have many friends in that business. It was a scary time for them and has taken a long time to right itself.

We have seen this coming for a long time and I hope this is rock bottom or we may not make it.

Products need to advertise, people need to see the commercials and I would think the streaming services could use the revenue from airing commercials.

This is easy for me to say because it would be my greatest wish and I truly hope this is something we are working towards.

There has to be a compromise and I don’t think that people would stop watching ‘The Crown” on Netflix if they had to watch 3 commercials.

Adding some commercials to streaming might even lower the cost of the services and people could get more then 1 or 2 of them.

It’s so expensive to have them all so people are being forced to choose. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could have them all and then it would become more like picking what network you wanted to watch at night?

I just know something drastic has to be done or so many people will  be out of business. Then how to you get your product known?

I have employees that only stream and never watch commercials. It drives me crazy, but we let it happen.

I get asked so many times a day “ What do you think it is?” I guess, maybe it’s the economy; maybe its social media or maybe I have no idea.

Slow times usually bounce back but this is different.  All my conversations now are leading back to streaming.

I love being a casting director. It’s the only job I’ve had for the last 30 years. I thought that all I would have to worrying about was doing a great job, building a great reputation and if I did that I would be fine. This situation has nothing to do with my reputation. My office puts its heart and soul in every job. We work hard on union, non-union, regular budgets and low budget jobs. Our work ethic hasn’t change and never will but if the phone doesn’t ring then there is nothing I can do.

My greatest pleasure is getting a job, executing it just as I was asked and then booking actors.

I still get excited every time I book an actor. Everyone that works for me feels the same passion.

I help employ so many people and not being able to do that weighs heavily on me.

BMC wants to change with the times. Union, non- union, real people… we do what we have to and we do it really well.

It’s scary times and I hope and pray that 2020 is a better year.

It has to be.

I’m trying to be positive, but it’s not usually my strong point….. 🙂

We all need to stay committed and HOPE .

If there is something I can do to help, I’m all ears.

Happy New Year from Beth Melsky Casting and we hope to see and talk to everyone next year

End of the Year

New SAG Commercial Contract


Details and a summary of the new commercial contract are posted on the Sag Website. For all SAG members it’s important that you vote. The first line is that there is a 6% rate increase on everything. That may be enough to make you vote yes.

I’m not sure how many actors are really aware of the ins and outs of the contract and the
changes in this one are very complicated. They have offered an alternative to the standard class A contract by offering buy-outs and different ways to bundle things. It will be up to the advertising agency to decide which way they want to go per project. It’s unclear if it’s for broadcast or if it will be used on the internet or social media. I believe if the bundles are chosen these are things you will know up front. I have no idea if this is better or worse but it’s movement. Movement is good. The pay raise of 6% goes into effect for anything that was shot after April 1st. I think my point is, like any contract negotiation there are good changes and not so good changes. If you really want to understand the changes before you vote, reach out to your agent or SAG. You don’t have a lot of time. I believe the votes have to be in by May 5th because the deadline is May 10th. Keep in mind that Sag/Aftra along with the JPC and the actors that are on the negotiating committee have agreed to this deal. If they hadn’t they would still be talking or at an impasse or on strike.

The commercial business is the worst I’ve seen it in 20 years. This has nothing to do
with union verses non union. The landscape of advertising has changed so fast because of the internet and social media. There is room for sooo much content, but the problem is how and where it’s being seen.  It’s an across the board money issue. How to spend it. What’s the most bang for your buck. CD’S have been cutting rates to match budgets when we have to. If we hold out for our full rate then they will just move on. I guess my point is that I don’t know what the result will be under the new contract but I do
think that the agencies that only do union work now have an option to give the their clients a way to save money…. Which could possibly result in shooting more broadcast content or even hire more actors. There are so many new bundling
options for class A, Internet, social media and OOT. Casting Directors are not part of any union and really have zero control on what an advertiser decides to do.
I can’t say that anyone who really cannot afford to shoot SAG work will now be able to, but for SAG members, compromises have to be made to keep advertising going. I have weeks that I wonder how anyone is going to sell any products anymore and I believe we
are knee deep in trying to re invent the commercial business.

So many changes so fast and there are weeks that I think I may go under. My business is at the mercy of things that I’m completed disconnected from. Streaming is huge and just getting bigger. If Netflix doesn’t advertise then how does anyone know about it or it’s deals and cross promotions because they don’t advertise on their streaming service. How will anyone know what kind of toilet paper to buy? This is stuff that is going to take time and it’s so much bigger than a union actors contract. I would never tell an actor which way to vote, but like in politics… VOTE.

I have a lot of friends in the music business and 10 years ago they said with streaming no artist will get rich unless they tour. I’m happy to say that they feel that they have come out on the other end and things are great again.

Let’s hope for the same thing for commercials.

Do not rely on the bits and pieces I’m giving you. Do your homework.

Beth Melsky

New SAG Commercial Contract

Clean up your social media

This is going to be a  blog with only one very important message- clean up your social media or make your accounts private or take it down.

With so much social media content available and products/companies/clients being afraid that they will hire an actor that has posted pictures that the product deems inappropriate, it could cost you a job. Colleges have been using it for years to help decide on who they are going to accept. Especially if two students are neck and neck, social media can help in making the final decision.

If you are an actor, especially commercial, union or nonunion, you need to present yourself as perfect.

No political views, no drinking pictures, no retweeting things you may feel strongly about …..nothing.

Pictures of food ( no logos or brand) just a picture of  great looking dinner. Pictures of flowers. Maybe a birthday cake.  That’s about it. Little things like taking a picture in a restaurant such as Taco bell with the logo showing and you audition for Chipotle …. Far fetched but why take the chance. Don’t promote products if you’re job is to get paid to help advertise and sell products.

You need to overthink everything. Every audition is like a job interview. Most companies, whether it’s a job as an accountant, school teacher or actor are running social media background checks. I’m not saying always, but with the amount of commercials I cast, it is happening more and more. When you are asked for your handles or account names that is what they are using it for.

When Beth Melsky Casting asks for that info we tell you exactly why. Nobody has ever refused because it’s hard to believe that a picture of you at a bachelor or bachelorette party holding dollars bills would matter to anyone, but sometimes it does.

A ton of pictures of you drinking can lead to the conclusion that you have a drinking problem or you party too much. If it’s available on the internet they want to make sure that you have an image that won’t tarnish their product, branding or image.

Whether it’s related to the product or not, sometimes doesn’t matter.

These data systems can find everything and we have no idea what might or might not bother them. If you really want some form of social media, contain it to close friends and family.

Is any of it worth it ?

You want to talk politics on twitter… don’t. These are frustrating times but you don’t know who’s reading or what their beliefs are. Try old fashion conversation. You can support causes and things that are important to you without retweeting everything. These are hard times and believe me, I spend so much time controlling myself. Vote, vote vote…. That’s a way to use that energy.

No director is looking at your social media to see if you can act. They are actually googling you instead. That is used constantly to see what you’ve done. You don’t want them to find things that could change their opinion, or be misunderstood. If you’ve played a murderer, or  have done a nude scene … too much info. Let them ask if they want to see something in particular. If you are doing commercials you need to think about what they see when they google you. It can work in your favor or against. I booked a girl recently because she needed to cry. She had a Vimeo video showing a great performance. Let them ask. Don’t offer too much and don’t put commercials up. Nobody wants actors that are over exposed in commercials. That’s what websites are for.  Another touchy thing, stand up comedians. If your act is too racy or political it may scare them. If I was a stand up and my act was working for me then make that your priority and hope for the best. You need to judge was most important and hope for the best.

Commercials are held to a very different standard since you are endorsing/selling a product.

We are in crazy times with no boundaries and no privacy.

As a casting director I worry that at some point a company hiring me might decide to do the same thing, look to see if I have ever said anything negative about them.

I have a business Instagram and a business Facebook and a business Twitter and it’s used as a casting tool. We only post things that are breakdown related or a gift we are sent as a thank you or …maybe a full waiting room if we have had a busy week.

All SAG commercials are automatically under an NDA. Meaning you cannot talk about the product or content of anything that went on at the union audition or if you book the job; on the shoot.

Actually not sure how many actors are aware of that rule. It was added in the last contract.

My advice, union or non union, go in to every audition regardless of what’s it’s for assuming you are under an NDA.

I can’t imagine why anything is worth the risk.

This has become a big issue and every time I have to run these checks I hold my breath.

You don’t realize how far back they can go and sometimes people don’t remember things from 2, 3 or 4 years ago.

It’s sad it’s come to this, but I can tell you first hand… companies have been caught with their pants down. Someone sees someone they know in a commercial and emails the company. Then the company checks their social media and finds something that causes them to take the commercial down. Believe it or not, I’ve been blamed along with the agent for not knowing.

Better to be safe and avoid. We lived forever without social media so we should be able to figure out a safe and non controversial way to enjoy it.

Always something… right ?  Unless you just want to live your life as an “influencer” stay off social media. No up side.

Beth Melsky ☺

Clean up your social media

I’m going to beg one last time.

I’m going to beg one last time.

New York casting is a disaster. I understand that actors that were once able to earn a steady income doing commercials no longer can.

The business has changed. We have union, non-union, real people and no way to navigate their careers.

Diversity requests are moving quicker than we can build the talent pool and with so much social media the ages are young and there are too many requests for “ influencers”.

That being said…. In the last 2 months we have done more SAG (and even network) work then we have seen in a long time. I’m one of a handful of NY casting directors that work for a bunch of “A” level directors that rely on experienced SAG actors that are well trained and help them make their work the quality they need to make those spots great.

I think the problem is actors have given up. Union actors want non-union work to go away, but you have no chance when you stop making the audition process a priority.

I get how frustrated everyone is.

I have gotten together with a bunch of talent agents and we have asked the union to help.

They send out letters to their members, but I was told very few members read letters that are sent out.

NY clearly has our slow times, but one thing that has been consistent for the 30+years that I have been doing this is that summer is busy.

Directors want to shoot in NY. They don’t want to travel to the west coast when the weather makes it possible to shoot on the east coast. They fight hard to bring their jobs here but when the casting sessions have only a 50 % turn out, they will lose their argument the next time.

NY has great actors but if they can’t find the level of actors they need they end up in LA. Those jobs aren’t going to go non-union… they will just cast someplace else.

You all know how frustrated the agents are because actors don’t think it matters if they inform their agents of their schedules. It shouldn’t matter if you haven’t had an audition in a month. The agents take the time to sign you and then submit you only to find out “you forgot to book out” or to let them know if you have booked something else or even planned a vacation.

Summer for actors does not mean vacation. Come October when you have no auditions and you call your agents to see what’s going on, the answer will be “where were you in May, June and especially July?” If we are lucky enough to work then July and August will be the best chance. Nothing is waiting.

I have to cast a job July 5th with a callback on the 7th. Yes, Saturday in the summer and right after July 4th.

I have no idea when a holiday (1 day) on a Wednesday has now started on Friday, June 29th. Agents and actors have decided on “summer Fridays”. I have never had a Friday off in the summer. Take fall Fridays. For 4th of July this year union agents have decided to close ½ day Tuesday all the way through Monday July 9th. My clients would push if they could, but jobs book late. Casting never has much turn around time and because of some decision that I believe started with the talent agents- the actors have gotten into a terrible habit. Don’t you want the work when it’s here? The non-union agents never close the way the union agents close. I guess they are hungrier and often we need to dip into that pool because we can’t fill casting sessions.

I pay rent 365 days a year. I have to be available to work all the time.

For the life of me I don’t understand why so many actors take vacation in July along with Fridays off and sometimes not even coming back from wherever they go until Monday night.

I’m begging you to give this one more summer. We need to show advertising agencies and directors that we can give them great casting on July 2,3 5,6,7.

LA has a 6-day work week. When I try and do a casting session on a Saturday in summer, everyone is out of town.

I know actors are frustrated, angry and have given up, but maybe you need to commit the time to see if your commitment will help bring the business back to NY. So far May and June were great months and more than 50% of the work was SAG.


Please, please, take your vacation in the fall.

Please, please stop deciding that Fridays in the summer are not a work day.

And agents, please, please stop closing at the drop of a hat. You are not trying to bring business back. You are giving up. What happened to a great work ethic?

Before giving up please devote this summer to help us all earn a living and restore faith to the business.

If I’m wrong, I’m sorry but without trying… it’s game over.

I’ll ask I more thing…



It would be nice to stop being so upset over politics that maybe we can get back to our jobs.

None of this is going to fix itself and giving up something we all need and love without trying will be terrible.


Thank you for listening,

Beth Melsky

Beth Melsky Casting

I’m going to beg one last time.

Can’t Find the Curve

It’s Friday afternoon. The second to last Friday in March. March came in like a storm and is leaving with a whimper. Come January 1st I start to assess and compare my work flow and billing to the year before. I actually do it every month because if I don’t make a month, I get stressed. The business has become so inconsistent and so unpredictable that I can’t say, “we’ll wait until June because June is always great”. As a very established business the future is feeling a bit scary. There doesn’t seem to be any way to pinpoint why some weeks or months are better than others and since we need to make overhead every month I need to pay attention. Casting, especially when you have your own staff and space, used to provide a good living, but it is no longer a business that can make a profit. Staff has to be consistent and great and having a great space is important. Regardless of budget people come to me for a certain quality and that is not something that I will compromise. January is usually good because of Super bowl advertising. It barely existed for us this year. Disappointing month. Because February is such a short month, I hold my breath, but we got through it this year. Not enough to cover the loss from January, but enough to cover the month.

Here we are in March, and like I said, off to a great start, so much so that I thought I may have been able to catch up a bit. Not happening. Another month that I think I’ll come up short.

Some months I can have 20-22 jobs, but the budgets are so small (and I’m willing to try as hard as I can to take the good with the bad) that I barely make it. March was lucky because I had some big SAG jobs. I was hoping that those jobs, along with the really low budget work, would help end the month well. In this case, it looks like I may only do 16 jobs with really good casting budgets but I’ll still come up short. I’ve always said that we have to get used to working twice as hard for ½ the money.

I can live with that but it feels like another change is coming…less and less work across the board.

Where is advertising going? How are people advertising? Don’t we need advertising to sell products?

The change from every job being SAG – to so much non-union was something we had to adjust to. I’m not involved in how we got here. I just know it happened and casting directors have to pay their rent. There is no one for us to strike with, or stand tall with. We don’t have a union, or anyone to help us with medical or pensions. We just have to keep working.

The question is… Where is the work?

I live on a rollercoaster now. I have never had guarantees or stability, but I felt if my office did a great job, regardless of the budget, we would be okay.

For the first time in 30 years, I’m not sure.

Clearly with all these streaming services and so much digital work and even apps, there seems to be less demand and nobody wants to spend money when they claim nobody is watching.

I feel like Network TV is upping their game, but it may be too late.

I joked with my stockbroker and told him to buy me Netflix. I said that if I lost my investment on it then it would mean my business was ok. If my business were failing then maybe the stock would help. At the time I was joking. Not sure it’s so funny now.

I’m not a scared person, just a stressed out one. I always believed that advertising would be necessary… now I’m not so sure. I’ve become scared.

I think that most advertising now is for the internet and social media. The quality of that work can be done with non-union actors and companies that are all in house. From creating the advertising to pre production; including casting to production and post. It’s one stop shopping and good enough for 6 seconds on social media. What scares me is what would stop the business from continuing to go that way. Client direct. There is already so much of it.Spotify, Pepsi, etc.

What has happened to the advertising agency? How are they going to make the transition to creating content for low budget content? What happens to all the senior creatives and producers that can’t have their salaries covered anymore?

Bigger and bigger corporate clients are starting to ask the agencies to spend less. They want to know how other big companies are doing non-union to avoid what they consider to be crazy talent costs. Simply, they don’t think the pay out is worth the result. These agents can’t afford to work that way. I’m not sure they even know how.

I think we are all sitting back and waiting to see how the commercial business resolves itself, but one thing I do know- THE COMMERCIAL BUSINESS IS NO LONGER THE WAY IT WAS WHEN A LOT OF US STARTED AND IT NEVER WILL BE AGAIN.

I certainly hope that we can adjust with the changes and hope that the commercial business doesn’t become a dinosaur.

There are so many very well know actors that got their start doing commercials. It will be sad for so many of us if it’s no longer an option.

I’ve always tried to stay ahead of the curve, to keep working and be successful. I just can’t seem to find the curve this time.

-Beth Melsky

Can’t Find the Curve


First, I would like to say thank you to all those agents and actors that have continued to read my blog and help restore some order to the casting process. The responsibility of actors being more diligent about their schedules so that agents can submit them knowing they are around and available for the job has increased quite a bit. It has helped casting directors prep their jobs without assuming we are going to lose and replace half the appointments. Agents would much rather know that the actors are not available than submit and find out they are not available. Casting directors also appreciate the work being done up front, that way we can do a solid prep without scrambling. Agents and casting directors appreciate the information more than you can imagine. There is one agent in particular that has a very large client list and when they lose so many people because actors haven’t booked out it’s possible that they will lose those appointments and have less of a chance of booking the job. It matters for so many reasons and casting directors will always remember that you did the right thing and will not hesitate for the next audition. Actors that have a history of not booking out consistently will find that casting directors will not only remember, but start to avoid them the next time. It’s far from perfect, but I have noticed a difference. There are a few agents that are trying hard, although still struggling. They need to figure out a way to reach out instead of waiting on the actors. That seems to be what’s helping in the union world. Union actors seem to be stepping up more and trying to be better about giving their agents their schedules, so thank you. I think they have started to realize how important it is to be responsible to the people that are trying to help get them out there. The more responsible you are with your agent the more comfortable they are submitting you. Non-union actors are not being nearly as diligent and therefore the prepping process for the casting director is very time-consuming and one job generally needs to be prepped multiple times. Just because you are non-union doesn’t make you or the process any less important and I think actors staying on top of it, even if they have multiple agents, would make things go smoother for everyone and become more professional.

It’s a split business, and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. We don’t want to say, “it’s non-union so don’t expect it to be professional”. Let’s just keep at it and hope that commercials for any medium will continue to be produced. Casting directors cannot control whether a commercial is going to be union or non-union. There is nothing we can say to change anyone’s mind. It’s all budgets based and the budgets are locked in way before we are hired. This business has become challenging for a lot of people and for those of us that have rent, staff, etc.; we need to work. Times are changing quickly, but more money doesn’t seem to be where we are headed. I keep my office and every job as professional as possible regardless of budgets. I know there are a lot of very frustrated people out there and casting directors have also been effected by this change. We rarely get our rates anymore and many jobs are flat rate for casting. The expectations are the same, and we don’t work less hard. There is no battle for casting directors to win. As much as they want me to cast, they will move on to someone more affordable. It’s sad because I do think that BMC always works hard and because we have a great reputation sometimes we can get a higher level of actors. There are strong and real arguments on every side and I just have to go with the flow. Let’s keep trying. I’m not sure what will happen when the next commercial contract is up but as long as digital budgets stay low they can not afford the P&W, the 8-hour shoot days, the usage (they feel that they have nothing tangible to go on to decide how many people are seeing what they are doing) first class air fare etc… This January I did 5 more jobs than last January and billed $30k less. Agencies and production companies love to go to a nice casting office and get a great casting job, but I don’t think they have any perception on the fact that the cost of running a company with a great staff is very expensive and there are times that the casting budget being offered costs me money. I try to accommodate everyone … especially when they say the next one will be better, but it doesn’t seem to be happening.

I’m very proud to say that I was lucky enough to cast a few Super Bowl commercials this year. It feels great when advertising still works and those directors doing them are a pleasure to work for. Those budgets are being effected also, but there’s only so much you can cut before you can no longer produce great quality advertising. I’m scared every day, but I just keep going and hope I can pay my bills. I love being a casting director and I hope there will be enough work, so I can do it for a very long time.

Now an important piece of advice to actors: Headshots. It’s so important to have updated headshots. Casting directors look at them- especially for non-union commercials. When they are 10 years out dated and look nothing like you everyone is wasting their time. I think if you are going to spend money on anything, that is the most important thing. We are trying to do quality casting whether it is union or non-union so anything actors can do to help us not waste time would be great. Adding a resume instead of a form is also important. Most of what I do is not just a look, and a lot of it is comedy improv, so a resume makes the difference in you getting an audition. I have to work hard, hope the phone rings and hope I can cover my costs by doing what we love.


Casting Couch

Casting couch. This is a term I have heard for 30 years. It is also a term that I have always thought was a thing people said when they didn’t really know what casting was. It’s not the 1950’s and I thought it was silly carry over from a different time. Most times I ignored the comment.

The majority of my work is commercials but I have done a bunch of films over the years.

Commercial casting works differently than film. They are fast with no time to wine and dine anyone. There are no promises to actors and the goal is to do the best casting sessions possible based on my expertise, relationship with the directors, production company producers, and advertising agencies. Regardless of who hires me, it needs to be done fast and efficiently. At the end of the process the agency’s client (product) have the final say, with recommendations from people they trust. From my perspective, it has always been business.

A talented casting director is talented regardless of what we are casting for. We see so many actors that have gone on to be stars and they are easy to spot early on. I auditioned Selma Blair many times and always thought that she was talented and would do very well. It breaks my heart to hear what she had to endure. She is very talented and that should have been enough.

I am a woman with my own business and maybe that made me naïve to things that went on. I just want to say that I am so sorry for any actors that were violated and felt no way out. I feel in all professions you should become successful based on your ability.

Hollywood and the film business had a reputation back in the 50’s and 60’s but I thought people had matured in their behavior and honestly would never have imagined that things went on to this degree. I am heartbroken for the actors that felt they needed to keep quiet. I am also sad for the actors that were scared and were not put in a position to trust their own talent.

It certainly has become a “who you know” business but that is to get in the door. I hope that the casting process can now work correctly and that actors get booked based on talent and nothing else. I just want to say I am sorry to anyone that was ever abused or assaulted.

One last note to all actors and agents: we cast up until 12/22 and even if your agent is silly enough to be closing, stick around. Super bowl commercials are cast up until 12/22. Casting companies will be opened and we will work until the end of that week. Thank you!


Beth Melsky

Casting Couch