I am going to discuss two things that happened this week. First, I decided to schedule an actress (who I haven’t scheduled in a while) to come in and audition for a great union commercial. She confirmed her appointment the day before. 20 minutes after her confirmed appointment time, I got a call from her agent saying that she was sick and had to cancel. I understand that people get sick but I’m pretty sure that she knew she was sick well before 20 minutes AFTER her appointment. It would have been nice if we were informed early enough so that another actress could have had a chance to be scheduled in. The casting director was waiting on her to work with another actor and this lack of respect caused many problems. I’m just asking for respect and responsibility. This even affected her peers. Be more responsible and consider the big picture.
This next story is the ultimate in frustration for me and can provide some good insight into how the process works. It shows how a lack of communication between casting director to agent and agent to actor can cause the loss of an audition and possible booking for no reason. I gave the breakdown to the agent verbally. I believe it’s very hard to convey important things in a written breakdown. I try and put out every breakdown verbally to get the best possible result. This job required amazing actors that are well trained in comedic timing and have a background in improvisation. I love giving casting specs this way, as well as being able to explain the spot. A top director known for his incredible work, as well as loyalty to strong actors, is directing this job. He has won many awards, including a Golden Lion at the Cannes Film Festival for best commercial campaign. It was an award for best casting, which we cast, so I was really proud. Any actor should be and is very proud to work with him on any project. You know the material will be great and he will make it even better.
This is not a big money job, but it is SAG and not a spot that will make an actor over exposed or tie them up in a big conflict area. The product is not high profile, so it would not have taken her out of high profile competitive work and it’s only running in one small city for 13 weeks. It’s a great spot for acting reel with no down side. Booking this job is a win-win. If the agent does his/her job and pays attention, they should be able to explain it to the actor and advise them to do it. That is an agents’ job…right??? First, the agent said that the actress passed because she didn’t want to do it at scale. I didn’t agree but accepted the answer. At that point, I wasn’t sure that the agent had given any real thought to the job and, therefore, didn’t even speak to the actress about it.
About 3 hours later, I received another phone call saying the actress was passing on the material. That’s when I lost it. I called the agent and pulled him out of a meeting. I knew that no one had actually seen the material, so how was this possible? I read the script to the agents but never send it out. I also thought that since the actress knew the director, she would know that the material could only be great and something any actor would want to do. Given all of this, I was sure her agent hadn’t informed her properly about the job. When I finally got the agent on the phone, he was completely out of the loop on the situation, passing on an audition because of “material” (as one of his assistants told us) and still fixated on the money. I asked him how she could possibly have passed on the material when she did not see it. The agent could have called me to clarify things, ask questions, or get more information to do his due diligence. I should not have had to call him; it is the job of the agent to try and get auditions for their clients.
It seems that when we gave his office the breakdown, he was unavailable to take the call himself so another agent there wrote down the information. Unfortunately, she wrote it down incorrectly. The main agent said the information in the written breakdown said the actress was going to have to say she had a horrible disease and she did not want to say that. This is a top improvisation/comedy actress and I knew if the spot was explained properly, she would get the comedy in it and be fine with it. I told the agent we never sent out a written breakdown, so could he tell me where he was reading the information? This is a comedy spot, not a dramatic pharmaceutical commercial.
This is what happens when people do not speak. This material doesn’t come along often and it was something I felt the actress would want to do. By the time I explained to the agent how he should do his job and pointed out the absurdity of the situation, the actress happily confirmed her appointment and came in at scale.
Agents actually thinking and taking the time to ask questions if necessary could make the difference in having one of their clients book the job. It is critical that thought and communication happens. So that it is a win-win for everyone.
It’s not always about the money. It should be about an agents’ opportunity to advise their clients. The ultimate goal is to further their careers. There are still agents in New York that have been doing this for as long as I have and they look at the whole picture. I should never have had to get on the phone again. This was a no-brainer. This is why I call in the breakdown. Once again, verbal communication versus e-mail is a huge concern right now. Next week on my blog will be a post from a very high profile union actor. As always, thanks for reading.
4 thoughts on “Actors: Don’t Make the Same Mistakes”
Very informative and great post! Thank you!
Maybe Actors have to question agents more carefully to insure better results and prevent negative situations with casting
Very enlightening, thank you for this info.
[…] example of my “thinking like a freak” was motivated by an excellent blog postby Beth Melsky over the weekend. She related a story concerning an on-camera casting job for a […]