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

Responsibility is the Key to Success

This post is very personal to me because my mother died on June 8th.

She worked for me for 25 years and was at her desk two weeks before she died. She ran the finances of all my businesses so that I could concentrate on being a great casting director and build a successful business.

She did things the old fashioned way and took care of the people that worked for me.

She ran all of my father’s production companies and was smarter with numbers than anyone I ever knew.

She made my accountant’s job easy, did payroll so I didn’t have to pay a service, and knew how to make every dollar work while even handling the taxes herself. She loved numbers. She loved the puzzle of accounting.

I was so lucky. I never asked questions. I knew I could trust her and that she would not only do everything legally, but do everything right as well.

Given all that, as a business owner I should have known more. I never wanted to step on her toes and I thought she would always be there. I knew that if one day she couldn’t do the job then I was screwed.

My mother loved working and also served as the mother and friend to everyone at BMC. She took a huge interest in everyone’s life as well as always having an opinion. You had to earn my mother’s interest and once you had it, you were good. My mother didn’t sugar coat how she felt and could be very sarcastic.

It took time to figure out her sense of humor. She was a little person with a powerful personality. She  also loved giving and never expected in return. I am happy to say that I think she gave me a few of these qualities.

Now, on to the most important message to actors, agents, managers and really anyone that wants to be successful.

I was taught responsibility. Nothing comes easy. I worked hard since I was 15 years old. We were not poor but my mother felt that I needed to learn to work. If I earned $20, she would put it in the bank and then give me $5 spending money. I had to earn my allowance . She taught me how important it was to save . My allowance was her money, but I didn’t get it if I wasn’t working.

When I started to work I was told that it was a real life commitment and that I had to take it very seriously. No calling in sick for no reason. No “I’m not in the mood.” People were counting on me and it was an important lesson.

This is the lesson that I write about in almost all of my blogs. Being an actor requires you to be responsible. You have agents and managers working hard for you and I will never understand why you don’t feel responsible to them with your schedule. If it was an office job, you would be fired. Being responsible helps build trust. It also shows commitment. I will schedule an actor that maybe I’m not sure is as talented over an actor that I know is never responsible and hasn’t earned trust. Being in our business doesn’t mean that you don’t have to treat it like business. If a casting director gets two actors submitted, they are both right for the role, but can only see one….who’s going to get the audition? Being in our business, which is creative, doesn’t give you a pass on logic.

I think I have heard the term “getting on a plane” more times than I can count in the last six months. Where is everyone going? How can you afford to always be going away? Why can’t you make a commitment, be responsible, and sit still for a while. I do. I never know when the phone is going to ring with the next job but I make sure I am there to take it. That’s called being responsible and committed to a career choice I made and seeing it through. If every time it got slow I “got on a plane,” I would be out of business. I understand if you get booked on an acting job but maybe 1% of the time that is the case.

Figure out how to be responsible to a career choice you have made and give it a chance. Inform the people that are working hard for you of your schedule. Be patient, sit still, and give it a chance to work. As a casting director, I notice the pattern with the people that refuse to take five minutes out of your day to inform your agent or manager of your schedule. Everyday. I also remember the responsible actors and if I have a last minute session, which happens often, I remember who’s responsible and it works in you favor. Agents should not need to call you to find things out. You probably send 50 e-mails a day. This might be the most important one. Summer is usually busy and in the past, August is great. There is a nice amount of SAG work right now. Why would you think a summer vacation is more important? When you are famous, you will have plenty of time for vacations. Make a commitment, be responsible. If this business is a hobby, you need to be honest. Honesty is huge.

So I thought I would share the best lesson that I got from my mother – be responsible. It worked for me.


Responsibility is the Key to Success

Summer Auditions

I call this my summer blog post. I’ve been giving actors time to graduate, take vacations, and to decide if they really want to be doing this. SAG established actors have to help by being available. Summer is hopefully our busiest time. Weather is great and more production is done in New York. If there were ever a time that you should re-evaluate your commitment and love for acting, now would be the time. Summer is the “worst” time to take vacations. People want to shoot in New York when the weather is nice. When it is cold, agencies and production companies are happy to get away; summer is when they want to stay in New York. This is a big window of time – June 1st to the end of September. This is the time to be an available actor. Take your vacations in the winter. The more quality actors available will help casting directors do a good job and prove that New York is a great place to cast and shoot. If there was ever a time, summer is it. I know everyone likes time off in the summer but in all my years of casting, I work 5-6 days a week during the summer. We don’t take Fridays off. We even make ourselves available to cast on Saturdays.

Friday is a workday. The actors that make themselves available are the ones that will work. My clients do not want to hear that actors take Fridays off in the summer; something they never have to with in LA. They are offering opportunity and we all need to take advantage. Supply demand, demand supply…be there for it.

Give this a chance to work. Acting is not based on a school year. Make yourself very available. Union or non-union, the hope is that there is enough work for everyone to get a job. Nothing in New York shuts down because it’s summer.

I am just pleading to all actors to use summer the right way. Come February you “asked” where are all the auditions. Let’s commit and work hard to get and keep production in New York. Stop jumping on a plane every other week. You can have one day’s notice for an audition or one hour (that happens a lot). Wake up everyday believing you will get an audition. Let’s just start with this summer and see where it goes. I’m asking for actors’ support. Give it this summer; we’ll all do our part. You know that saying, “the early bird catches the worm.” Be the early bird.

Let’s start with this very important advice and as the weeks go on, I will continue to give advice on how to make the most of your time while making yourself available. Availability is the key.

Also, a few of my favorite excuses from the last two weeks of casting:

  1. I scheduled an actor that I have known for a long time. Called his agent, agent called him, and he told the agent he retired. Signed client. You would have thought he would have notified his agent that he had retired.
  2. Actor does an audition and then a callback. Accepted a ROFR (hold) for shoot day. We called to book him and he said that he thought his callback sucked so he didn’t think he would get the job. He took a waiter job for shoot day. When I called him, he was going to turn down the booking. I asked if he wanted to be an actor or a waiter. His agent could not convince him to take my booking. I gave him five minutes to change his mind if wanted to be an actor. He took the acting job. His agent thanked me for getting him to do the job. Huge lesson here: just because you think you didn’t do well at the callback, doesn’t mean anything.
  3. An actor that I scheduled for a network audition, big payday, turned the audition down because he had to chaperone his kid on a school field trip. Acting: a hobby or job? Really trying to figure this out and so are the agents. I can keep going on but I think this is a good example of how messed up things are.
Summer Auditions