How to Get a Casting or Acting Job

I am receiving quite a few resumes from students graduating college and looking for a full-time starting position in casting. My advice to you is:

  • Do not address your letter as “To Whom it May Concern.” Take the time to find out the name of a person you can send your resume to. Even if it is sent to the owner, I’m sure it will get to the right person.
  • We are not a “casting agency.” There is no such thing as a “casting agency.” I have said it before; there are “casting companies” with “casting directors” and there are “talent agencies” with “talent agents.” Applying for a job in casting and calling us casting agents makes us feel like you didn’t learn properly at the internships you completed. This misunderstanding of terminology is a huge pet peeve of mine.

The next big issue of the week is Easter break. It seems a large number of actors take the whole week off to go on vacation with their families. The problem with this is that your agent does not know that you’re out of town until I call them with an appointment for you. The amount of losses due to this is unbelievable. My first thought is that everyone has plenty of money to go to the Caribbean or there are a lot of trust fund actors out there. Either way, PLEASE book out with your agent. Stop making Beth Melsky Casting the reason they find out you’re on vacation. It is exhausting to prep and re-prep. Everyone sends crazy amounts of e-mails out everyday; add your agent(s) to the list. How hard could this be? Doing the right thing and notifying your agent(s) leaves a much better impression than finding out that you’re out of town by scheduling you. I’m begging AGAIN.

Here’s a word from David, a casting director at BMC:

I’ve been a casting director for ten years with Beth Melsky and I’ve worked for several years before that in casting/production in Los Angeles. Beth runs the busiest casting company in NYC and that means for her business to be successful, it has to run efficiently and we need your help as actors. Keep in mind that when we call you in, we want you to do a good job. We believe, based on the spec given to us, that you have the right talent and look for the job and you will, in turn, make us look good as a casting company, once you get booked and perform successfully on the shoot.

Once you get into the studio, there are a number of things you can do to make us happy, like knowing what job you’re auditioning for, dressing in proper wardrobe, showing up at your scheduled time, signing in on the computer, studying the copy, and entering the studio prepared to perform without having to read directly from the prompter.

Here are a few things you should avoid doing once you’re in the studio. This is basic stuff but you all would be surprised at how often we see it happen:

  • Turn off your cell phone. Your agent/boyfriend/wife/mistress can wait.
  • Don’t bring the copy in. This is why we have a prompter, so you can refer to it. If all the copy is in my studio, actors in the waiting room have nothing to read. Also, I see so many actors rolling the copy up and putting it in their pocket/purse. These are not your personal scripts. Once you’re finished with the audition, please return the copy back to the basket above the sign-in area.
  • Don’t come in and sit on the couch. We are not hanging out and having wine together. Go directly to the mark opposite camera and wait to be slated.
  • Try not to criticize yourself in the studio. So many times I’ve seen an actor ruin a perfectly good take by making some hypercritical, disparaging comment about their performance before I have a chance to cut. Keep it to yourself. Often times, you’ve done better than you think.
  • When we do personality interviews, do not believe this is a moment to trumpet long impressive stories about your acting career. We’ve seen your resumes and most often, in this type of audition, directors and agencies are more interested in what you do outside of the acting business.
  • This is a big one and failure to do this can have real consequences. Always tell your agent/manager about any changes in your schedule in a detailed, clear, and timely manner. If anything happens that will affect your availability for a callback or booking, we need to know about it right away and beforehand, which means your agent/manager needs to be up to date on what your work/travel/family obligations are in real time. We cannot show a director/ad agency someone they might love and want to book, only to tell them after the callback that this actor has suddenly become unavailable for some unknown reason. This puts us in a very awkward position in front of our clients and few things make Beth more frustrated than having to explain this situation to a director who is under the gun to cast the job and start shooting.
  • Lastly, I think Ashley touch on this last week; do not lie about your “special skills.” If you can’t play the guitar, don’t list it on your resume. One day, you will be asked to demonstrate this skill in front of a lot of people and you will be embarrassed and you will make all of us trying to cast you look like we don’t know what we’re doing. I am fluent in Spanish and run most of the Spanish sessions at BMC. Same idea here. If you are fluent, that means you can read wall-to-wall Spanish copy with a confident, natural rhythm in a neutral Spanish accent. If you are not capable of doing this but have some competency in Spanish, you could list your skill as “conversational.” Know the difference because it makes a big difference to us.

I could probably list about ten more of these but this is a good start…

Thanks for listening.

How to Get a Casting or Acting Job

One thought on “How to Get a Casting or Acting Job

  1. Anna says:

    Thanks for the feedback! Communication is so important, and it’s always great to know what’s going on in someone’s head. Sometimes some things may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how very different some people are and how very different their preferences and ‘common sense’ can be!


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