Summer Casting and Puppy Mills

It has been a few months since I wrote my last blog. As I mentioned, my mom passed away suddenly and my world has changed. I have never experienced a loss so devastating that I feel I have no control or understanding of what I’m feeling. I find working is the best thing for me and I am so grateful that since mid-June, it has been very busy. She died June 8th. I had the time to do what I had to do to bury her and have my family and all of our friends come to my house and honor her. It was like Karma. The minute the third day of Shiva was over, I knew I had to get back to the office and work. One quiet week can slow down my cash flow and on top of being a casting director, I had to try and figure out what my mother had done with my business finances for over 20 years. I knew she was making every dollar stretch and letting me run a great casting company. She loved her job and did it the old fashioned way. She made me feel safe and that things would always be okay. Through busy times, slow times, things like Netflix, union, non-union, crazy low budgets, and so many changes over the last 20 years that she ran things, she stood by me.

Casting directors are freelance. Whether you own a company with your own space or you rent space, you have to work so hard to do an an incredible job, every time, regardless of how hard the casting spec is or how little we are getting paid, or even how underpaid the actors are. We do this to keep the business going for all of us.

There are jobs that I work on where the casting fee is more important than the quality they might get. I cut my rate often to try and gain new clients and to prove we are great at what we do and then maybe the next time they will find more money. I never undercut other casting directors to get a job. I do not even know what my competitors’ rates are. If that is what they care about, then they do not really care who is casting. I also think the process and the job of a casting director is not always understood. We add real value. Top directors and agencies understand the value of a good casting director – one that is well respected, that understands rules and the SAG contract, can be a huge asset. This knowledge and relationship with actors and agents can help in getting top quality talent.

I think that with all my focus on work right now I see things a bit differently. It has always been important to me to do a great job. It is just who I am but now I worry that casting could end up being eliminated. I believe that commercials are the only way to see products but the broadcast quality work is becoming less frequent. The chain of events that comes along with that is actors missing commercial auditions and being accountable for their schedules does not matter. We have had more SAG network work this summer than we have had in years. We can never quarantine what work is going to be like, but summer is always a safe bet for quality work in New York.

I do not know how to make actors understand this. I did a session for a great product and if an actor booked this, it could pay their bills for a year. I lost 25 people because they all took Friday off because it is summer. Really? I will not be given another chance. My client needed the session today. I have had multiple sessions every Friday for the last six weeks. I am not going to turn down the work because of this made up rule. Next time, they will just cast in LA. SAG actors that have been so frustrated with the amount of non-union work should not only notice what has been going on, but should rethink their schedules. If these issues are not thought about and addressed, then how can we move forward and try and keep things going?

I have family, employees, agents, and so many actors that depend on my hard work. Sometimes I feel the agents and actors are not doing their fair share to help fix things. I have a great understanding of family emergencies now more than ever, but that term is used very loosely…a dentist appointment, a therapy appointment, etc. Auditions come first. There are a lot of actors out there and you probably will not get another chance so before you have a crazy reason to not make an audition or ask for a time change, please think about how hard we are working to set up quality casting sessions. No, we never know, but we are always prepared. This is what I spend my time thinking about now. At times it feels hopeless.

One last thing that I would like to talk about: It has nothing to do with casting. I am a huge animal lover. I ride horses. I love horses. I love dogs and I have two of my own. My youngest son’s friend decided he wanted a dog. In this day and age, everyone knows that there are thousands of dogs that need to be rescued and adopted. He went to a pet store, thinking he was buying a pure bred from a breeder…makes no sense.

Well of course it turned out the puppy was from a puppy mill and everything he was told was a lie and all the paperwork was forged. And nothing about giving the dog back because then what? Puppy mills must be closed down and a good place to start is with pet shops. I will help in reporting this and having this store shut down. This is horrifying to me and would love to learn as much about putting an end to puppy mills as I can. Just putting it out there that I am interested in helping.


Summer Casting and Puppy Mills

7 thoughts on “Summer Casting and Puppy Mills

  1. This was a thought-provoking post with poignant words and questions to think about. On the subject of summer, this is also a reminder as to why I stayed in town this summer and did not go on vacation or even long weekends. I have been watching my friends’ Facebook posts full of Italy, Croatia and beach pics. Yesterday, I was asked to report to a commercial casting with just a few hours notice–and I was able to run right over in the right wardrobe simply because I was in NYC and had not succumbed to my parents’ request to spend time with them in Jersey. Thanks Beth!


  2. Beth: I have followed your blog for well over a year and always love your insight into the business. I was so sorry to hear of your loss. I felt the same way when I lost my father. Your parents are often your biggest cheerleaders. It’s hard to describe the emptiness to those that haven’t lost a parent. The various holidays, birthdays, etc without them…it can be difficult. I know your mother would be so proud of your continued strength. As for puppy mills, I feel the exact same way. My two beautiful Italian Greyhounds are both rescues/adopted family. (I unfortunately lost my gorgeous Sophie over a year ago. She was a retired racing Greyhound.) I try my best to educate potential pet parents on adoption and rescue. I get stopped ALL THE TIME by people who ask how much my pups cost…and I love telling them..NOTHING. (just a small adoption fee.) Keep up the good fight, behind the scenes and with your pet advocacy! Ps: I have met both Ashley & Marisa in workshops. They are both fantastic!


  3. M sheps says:

    Love reading your blogs. You are a wonderful person. It comes out in what u write and the professionalism my son and I encounter at your casting sessions. I too bought a dog which I thought was a pedigree from one of those shops. Our dog suffers from terrible allergies and a small bladder. We love him so. It’s horrible watching him so uncomfortable. Thank you for helping get the word out about these horrible puppy mills.


  4. Rob Edwards says:

    Hi Beth,
    So Sorry for your loss.

    As to actors and Fridays. I can tell you it is even worse in LA- The beaches are so close fridays are an exodus. When I worked out there. I LOVED Fridays – I’d show up and be the only guy with 8 Ladies waiting for a partner. I’d get to read 7 different ways. Booked more than a few “Friday” jobs as a result.

    All actors need to treat their career as a business. A 24 hour/7 Day a week business. If you treat it with any less respect and commitment, then maybe this isn’t the career for you.

    I hope those actors that leave you hanging aren’t given another chance to screw you and your clients over.

    All the best,

    Rob E


  5. I am so sorry for your loss Beth. My cousin died suddenly from a heart attack at 37 this July so I know the amount of grief and sadness you are going through. It is not easy but it is so special to know the legacy your mother leaves behind and the beauty that she gave you to create an impeccable casting company.

    My twin sister and I are back in the city and people always laugh and say that we are always on the run but we do not miss a beat. We are from the Midwest, NYC is the place where opportunity is ringing if you are willing to put in the hours and hard work to achieve it. I walk an average 9 miles a day from FiDi to Midtown, even to the Upper East Side to get to castings, meet with people like yourself because we know that is important…whether it is a $200 commercial or a $20,000 commercial we will put in the same effort to be there,to be available and be willing to give you the best performance and story. This was a great read.

    I love your blogs.

    Dana Langshaw


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