Advice to Actors

Last weekend was July 4th and I felt like I could have taken my blog post from one year ago and just used it again.

We are in a business without any real schedule…no guarantees as to when it is going to be busy or slow or if it will be union or non-union work. A year ago, I begged actors to take their vacations in the winter. I never know when the phone will ring and the chances are I will be given no real lead time to do my job properly. Many times, I get a call in the morning to cast that same day.

Because it’s Thursday in the summer and you have no auditions for Friday, many of you leave for the weekend. Why don’t you be the actor that sticks around and is available for the Friday afternoon last minute auditions? Keeping yourself around and available gives you an edge. What’s the rush? Where are you going?

As usual, July 4th has become a weeklong holiday. Actors not being available can cost a casting director a job. Be the actor that sticks around and see what happens. I don’t think I have ever heard the excuse, “He has a flight” as many times as I have heard recently. Where is everyone going? Aren’t flights expensive? If there was ever a time to sit still and make the decision to be responsible, it would be now. There has been a nice amount of SAG (network) work and I cannot tell you how hard it was to get 20 actors confirmed last Friday. Be that actor that is available on a Friday in the summer and I bet your agent will push for you. We do not get to go again. We do a session with the best available. Many times we are only given one day to cast and if our first 20 choices have decided to get on a plane I have to find another 20 actors that will be great options.

Being an actor is a “hurry up and wait” profession. Casting directors, or at least those at Beth Melsky Casting, make themselves available 24/7. I never turn down anything because I am getting on a plane. I fly through the night. I am committed to my job because that is a big part in being successful.

The beginning of June was personally the worst time of my life. I did not expect my clients to understand and did not want to put them in an awkward situation so I forged ahead. June is usually a very busy month but I am spiritual and I believe karma played a big part in allowing me to do everything I needed to and then it picked up strongly so I could catch up. July is starting out strong and August (the month that all actors think they should or can take off) has been a great month for New York casting in the past.

All I am asking is to give it a try this year. Please help us casting directors do a great job and give clients a reason to think New York casting is very important. Your availability is what helps us do a great job. I am asking for a one-summer commitment. I do not always know my schedule so do not call and ask me if your actors can leave early and take long weekends. I get calls at night for the next day and honestly it is not my responsibility to give you the green light to leave. Being an agent and an actor is a job. I do not give my staff Fridays off because I am not sure what will come my way. Would you expect that if you had a full time job? What is the problem with sitting still?

The other ongoing issue, and it’s not getting any better, is actors not booking out. Why don’t you do it? You can go four weeks without an audition and then your agent submits you and I guess because you haven’t heard from them you think it doesn’t matter. The agent submits you to me; I pick you and give you an appointment. The agents check schedules before submitting as to not waste my time. If it is clear, they submit with what they think is accurate information. More than 50% of the time, it turns out they have wasted my time and they have to call me with their tail between their legs to cancel your appointment. Often times, I do not give them a replacement. That means the agent has worked a whole day without even a chance of booking the job and making any money.

One of the most disappointing occurrences, and it happens too often, is when an agent calls one of their clients with an appointment only to be told that the actor moved to LA. That is irresponsible and shows such a lack of respect for the people that are working as hard as they can to get you work. The responsible actors are the ones agents will feel comfortable submitting last minute.

Also, informing your agent of bookings that might happen through a legit or theatrical agent are also important. Not only are they happy that you are working but it might not take you out. Knowledge is power.

The last thing I want to talk about is the word “booked.” That word only means one thing to me. You are on another acting job. For the amount of times I hear that word in a day, I would say the business is beyond booming. The casting sessions going on are not reflecting the amount of actors “booked.” Having a part time job or taking other work is not being booked. Honesty is what allows us to try and work out auditions. Do not use that word loosely.

 


 

And now I wanted to give Nikki, a casting assistant at my office who most of you probably know, the chance to post:

I appreciate everyone who reads Beth’s blog regularly. I love my job and I love what we do at Beth Melsky Casting; however, there are some lessons to be learned. I want to touch on the point of booking out. I wish everyone could understand what goes on in Beth’s office. Beth puts out a breakdown, agents submit, and Beth HANDPICKS whom she wants to see and who is right for the job. She preps her sessions with diligence and precision. Everyone has a specific appointment time. Often times, you are reading with another actor or two or three. When I lose someone on a session because they have not booked out, I get quite frustrated too (so does your agent, by the way…I know this because I talk to each of them). I have to tell Beth whom we lost and why and then she has to go back through the submissions and try to find someone else who is right, prolonging the process and prepping double. Doing this over and over and over again is exhausting and frustrating. Please book out with your agents. Thank you to everyone who does. We are all on the same team here, trying to get a job done. Let’s work together in this. I want you all to book jobs, too!

 


 

I am begging everyone to give a lot of thought to what I am asking and if I am wrong, I won’t ask again. Help to make this an easy summer and maybe even put a smile on my face.

Beth Melsky

Advice to Actors

8 thoughts on “Advice to Actors

  1. I’m here all summer and don’t take vacations until very late December/Janurary. I’ve arranged to have day jobs that allow me full flexibility for last minute auditions and bookings. Hope to see you soon.

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  2. This is so important! Thank you, Beth, for again giving us actors a gentle but serious reminder to treat acting seriously, if we seriously want to succeed! And thank you too, Nikki!
    I hope we all have amazing summers, and that there are many smiles to come.

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  3. Voice Over Guy says:

    Hi, Beth. I’ve been reading through your blog today and, as someone just starting out as a Voiceover, I’m astonished at how frustrating actors can make it for casting directors by not following common courtesy and booking out when needed. I promise I will always be professional, always be available on Friday and always respect everyone’s time. Thanks for the insight!

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