Actors, have you ever seen a casting notice online and wondered, “Should I audition for that?” I certainly hope you’ve asked yourself that important question, and aren’t the type to see a poorly crafted call, and submit your headshot just because you can. But, perhaps, you don’t know what to expect when it comes to casting calls, and if that’s the case, then this post is for you in particular.
Here I am going to talk about why I think it’s important that you, Actors, learn what to look for when scouring callboards for acting jobs. Producers, if you happen to stumble upon this article, I have some advice for you, too: Hire a Casting Director if possible, or put in the required work before you post an Amateur Hour casting call online – At the end of this post you will find a fully fleshed out notice with character breakdowns to assist.
The digital age has made the casting process faster, and actors more accessible, but that’s not necessarily better. We also live in an age where content creation is easier (read: cheaper) than ever, and more and more amateurs are “making movies,” sometimes without actually knowing what what they are doing (which is not necessarily a bad thing). At our studio, Mighty Tripod Acting Studio, we encourage our students to get out there and start creating, but we also push for professionalism and an instill an understanding of industry standards, so the filmmaking process is smooth from pre-production to delivery.
So, why is it important for Actors to know what to look for when submitting for work? Because it’s easy to get taken advantage of, even by well meaning filmmakers. And because I want you, Actors, especially women, to feel safe an industry that is notoriously predatory (um…“casting couch”…er, Harvey Weinstein…) so you can learn how to identify Red Flags, and steer clear of shady sounding productions. Of course, not every incomplete casting call found online is suspect (and, unfortunately, abuses and unprofessionalism can also occur at the highest levels), but, whenever possible, I encourage you to seek to obtain more detailed information (via Facebook Commenting, etc.) about the project so you can be as informed as you should be before you submit.
Because I have been acting since 2000, and have had top-notch acting talent representation since 2011, I tend to avoid self-submitting to casting calls which are not on reputable casting websites (Now Casting/LA Casting, Casting Networks, Casting Frontier, Actors Access). But, when I do find something interesting online, I keep my eyes peeled for a few things in particular, then pass the notice onto my agency, TCM Models and Talent, and ask them to submit my headshot, resume’, and reels.
Here is what I look for first in a casting call (below you will find a fully fleshed out notice, with character breakdowns):
- Audition date.
- Production dates.
- Type of job: Commercial, Film, TV, Internal Corporate Video, Music Video, etc.
- Rate of pay (here is a link to an article about actor wages).
- Character Breakdown.
- Director’s name (which I cross-reference with IMBb).
- Producer’s name (which I cross-reference with IMBb).
- Casting director’s name (which I cross-reference with IMBb).
When I am reviewing a casting call, I am looking especially closely at the aforementioned, and if any items are missing, I consider that a Red Flag. When I cross-reference IMDb.com, I am looking up the director and producer to see what they have done previously (which might help me prep for the audition) and then contacting industry friends (or my agent) for any first hand information about their professionalism and quality of work.
In my opinion a well thought out and complete casting call suggests professionalism on the side of the production. It says, “I know what I am doing. I am taking this, and you, seriously. You can trust me.” I also believe that by posting a legit casting call online, filmmakers will receive more quality submissions from actors, which is a benefit for all involved. Without a well crafted casting call, the answer to “Should I audition for that?” is “No,” with a possible, “Maybe, if more information is provided.”
Aside from the casting websites listed above, here are a few places you can look which are usually trustworthy:
Theatre Puget Sound
ForegroundBackground (mailing list)
PerformersCallboard (mailing list)
Seattle Filmmakers and Actors (Facebook Group)
Northwest Callboard (Facebook Group)
I hope this helps you determine if submitting for a particular project is worth your time.
For more information about actor training at Mighty Tripod Acting Studio, click here to learn about classes and workshops in Seattle. And, for more information about the path of the professional actor, check out the website of the Alliance of Professional Performers – Northwest, Seattle (APP-NW Seattle). If you enjoyed this article, please leave a comment and share on social.
I look forward to hearing from you,
Casting Notice Example
Production title: Jenny and Bowzer’s Strange Life
Union / Non-Union: Non-Union
Production Type: Independent / student
Project length: Short Film (10 minutes)
Project format: 16:9 HD
Posted on: Monday, April 2nd, 2013
Production location: NYC
Production Company: Lights Film School Student Project
Company website (if applicable): Insert website here
Director: Jacqueline Patterson
Producer: Stanley Jackson
Casting Director (if applicable): Jacqueline Patterson
Audition Location: 453 main st
Shooting Location: Manhattan
Compensation: None, which = copy, credit, meals! (or daily rate, usage fees, and any + 10% or + 20% listed here)
(Sometimes initial auditions will not be in person, but via video submission)
May 24, 2013 1:00 – 10:00 PM
April 25, 2013 1:00 – 10:00 PM
(Please note all auditions will be given a specific time within this window)
Call Backs: June 4th, 2017 6:00 – 10:00 PM (Sometimes TBD will be listed here)
Shooting Starts: Aug 21, 2017
Shooting Ends: Aug 23, 2017
“Jenny and Bowzer’s Strange Life” is a film about a Jenny and her best friend Bowzer’s unconditional love for one another. Jenny and Bowzer have been friends for over a decade but as they enter their early twenties they realize their friendship is blossoming into something both of them feel a new found excitement for. But will they jeopardize their friendship?
[JENNY] [GENDER: FEMALE] [AGE: 20-25]
Jenny has just broken up with her boyfriend. He best friend Bowzer quickly becomes her new obsession. Jenny’s parents do not approve of the new relationship and try everything in their power to stop them.
[BOWZER] [GENDER: MALE] [AGE: 20-25]
Bowzer is a quirky twenty something with low self esteem and a shy demeanor. His best friend Jenny is one of the only things in life he prizes. Her new found love interest in him awakens a sense of self confidence he has never felt before.
Modified from Source: https://www.lightsfilmschool.com/blog/how-to-write-a-casting-call/481/