This is for all actors, union and non-union, commercial and theatrical.
The agent-actor communication seems to have broken down:
- From the casting director point of view, in many cases, the agents have little idea on the availability, schedules, or whereabouts of the actors they represent.
- From the agent point of view, I think they feel the same way.
- From the actor point of view, I don’t know. I can only assume that actors don’t think it’s necessary or important to keep their agent or agents informed. If you had a full-time job, you would be accountable to your boss. It’s the same thing.
When an agent gets a breakdown from a casting director, they submit a list of actors to me that they feel are right for the role. Because a lot of actors don’t think booking out matters, the agent ends up submitting actors with a 50/50 chance of being unavailable for the audition. If available for the audition, the agent should give them the shoot dates with the chance that they will find out the actor is not available for the shoot. Actors should book out with agents, whether it’s for a few hours, a day, a week, the week after, or six months down the road. This way, nobody’s time will be wasted. If you know, then you should share.
Actors should tell this information to their managers, commercial agents, and anyone involved in their career. The actor is the main ingredient and needs to be proactive by informing all. The most frustrating thing for me, as a casting director, is setting up a casting session – taking the time to schedule and give an appointment out, only to then find out the actor is unavailable. Agents should know all of this before they submit actors to casting directors. If actors would inform their agents and managers of their schedules, it would save hours and sometimes days of wasted time. I can’t tell you how many times an agent will suggest an actor to me, I schedule them, the agent calls them with their appointment time, only to find out the actor moved to LA. I can’t express enough how important it is to keep everyone informed of your schedule, especially if it means you’re unavailable. I know actors can have 100 auditions a year or 10, but being responsible makes the agent more secure with submitting you for a project.
With e-mail, it’s so easy to share information. Why wouldn’t you just e-mail every agent and manager with your schedule? People have no problem using e-mail when there’s an issue. Believe it or not, it goes a long way, as well as keeping your name on everyone’s mind. Should there be a universal system, maybe even an app, for actors to use for their schedules? Yes, but it seems that nobody has been able to figure this one out. Directors are always requesting certain actors from me and when I call their agent, the agent always says, “I have no idea if they are available. Let me check.” An actor can’t upset a casting director or agent by doing the right thing. I think the business has changed so much and there are so many “real people,” non-union, and union casting sessions, that maybe actors don’t think one person will make a difference. Everything matters: up and coming and established – same rule. Responsibility matters. It’s a job. The lack of information is making the casting and agent job much harder.
Every appointment out of Beth Melsky Casting is important. We don’t do cattle calls. We schedule each actor by name so a loss is disappointing and we have to do the work again. Commercials are a one-day notice biz, so the knowledge is vital to do our jobs well. I am hoping 2015 is the year we can all work together to make this system work. Trust me, there will be a lot less yelling.
On the blog next week: actors that are trying to break through and get an agent or work freelance through multiple agents.