This week was a huge test of my patience. Casting directors, like actors, rely on jobs to pay rent. November, so far, has been a fairly slow month. There doesn’t seem to be a formula to when it is going to be busy or slow. It’s an evolving business with more Internet than broadcast. The change and the factor of the unknown affect us as much as the actors and advertising agencies. We are happy to work and make the changes as they come. I would think and hope that actors feel the same way. We can’t do anything about changing tech or ways to watch commercials but what I do know is that commercials will always be necessary. How else will people know what to buy? We just have to be patient. I have lived through network TV with minimum channels to cable TV and now the Internet. If anything there are more ways to sell products than ever before. Budgets change, media outlets change, and we just have to hang in there. This is all I know how to do (except ride a horse but I can’t earn a living doing that) so we ALL have to stick together and wait. Actors will always be needed so don’t stop taking it seriously.
Beth Melsky Casting got a huge, great creative, job with multiple spots to cast with an amazing director. We are always ready to take on casting jobs and this one is like a gift. I think the talent agents feel the same way. These are the breakdowns that they want to get as many of their actors seen as possible. We just cannot figure out how the actors feel. Instead of being able to put my time prepping quality and assuming that this is what actors want, I struggle trying to put together strong sessions. We have hit an all-time high of problems. Here we go again.
Actors not keeping their agents up to date on their schedules, actors not reading all the information that they are sent in e-mails or not listening to messages left. Again, we prep diligently, follow casting specs that are given to use, and pick actors that we think will do more than justice to the role. That is the job of a good casting director – interpreting specs and scripts and scheduling people that we think will be great. Actors, you are hand picked. You are not a dime a dozen. Of course we always need to meet new people on every job, but we need the majority of these sessions to be A-level.
We always give the usage, conflict, callback date, and shoot date(s) at the time we give out the audition time. I could not possibly give more information. Even with that, sometimes less than half is not listened to, not paid attention to, or thought of as unimportant. I cannot change an audition date, callback date, or shoot date. Therefore, if you are not avail for callback or shoot, we need to know before you waste your time, my time, and the directors’ time.
Shoots cannot be changed. “Let’s see what happens…maybe they won’t like me anyway” is not the right mindset for an actor. And it is not fair. What if they like you? Look at the position you have put the casting director and the agent in.
Let’s move on to the auditions. Scheduling a session with all roles required to make the script work is very difficult. Everyone asking for a time change makes it impossible for the casting directors in the studio do their job well. They end up short on necessary parts and then they have a waiting room full of angry actors because someone is running late or cancelled at the last minute or 50 other reasons. There are very few reasons that require a time change and the requests are out of control. For us to do a quality casting session, you need to trust the way we are setting it up. It is about quality and efficiency. We are not a hair salon. You cannot pick your time. Sometimes we cast more than one spot or vignette in a day and there is often a small window for your role. As actors, I would appreciate it if you could make it to the casting at your scheduled time.
Here are some classic excuses from this past week:
- “I have to teach so I need a time change.”
Usually agents do not even know they are teaching; however, I give a time change, and the actor is still no good.
- “I have to take my grandmother to the doctor.”
Is that an everyday thing? I also believe a grandmother would rather have their grandchild do the audition.
- “I am a real estate broker and cannot change a property showing.”
Actor or real estate broker?
- “I work for an airline and can only get one day off at a time.”
Well, if the job shoots in LA, it will clearly take more than one day. Did you tell your agent any of this? I am kind of tired of being the one to help with this disclosure information.
- “My kid is sick, so I have to watch him.”
If you are responsible for watching your children, and it will affect auditions, agents need to know this.
- “I live too far out of the city so I need at least 24 hours notice for auditions.”
We are lucky if we get three hours. So, once again, tell your agent so they know how to submit you.
- “I have to cancel my appointment. I forgot I had a trip booked during the shoot dates.”
This happened while an actor was on his way to his confirmed appointment. This also happened in another instance while the actor was auditioning.
- “Oh, I have finals during the shoot days.”
These are people of all ages.
- “Oh, it is not a good time for me. Can I change it?”
- “I have therapy at that time.”
- “I have a reading that day.”
Readings are usually unpaid.
- “I have a dentist appointment.”
- “I have to work.”
I would say only about one out of every 30 times, it’s actually an acting job.
I do not have the answers to the state of this business. I just know the casting procedure will always be the same and if you want to seriously pursue this career, you must manage it better. I could go on forever with the things we listen to. We cannot and will not do cattle calls. More is expected of Beth Melsky Casting.
There is never a time that this is “just another job.” I work hard for my clients and I also work hard for the actors. I am very fair but if you have people that do not care, it is not going to work.
I am begging you to do whatever you can to avoid time changes before you come to us. There are cases that are unavoidable but many times, it can be worked out on your end. Also, it would help if the actors knew the people they were talking to. Rarely does that happen. That creates a lack of respect and many problems. I spend way too much on these issues and not enough time on being a good casting director with a great company. We need help.