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.