Friday, April 5, 2013

8 Tips From a Small Time Casting Director

I am a member of an Off-off Broadway theatre company, and every year we do open call auditions (EPAs).  This is a big year for us: two full shows, and four readings to cast.
We had our first day this weekend, and I wanted to pass on some tips from the point of view of casting director, me.

1 - Be prepared to chat.  When casting a season, we can only get so much information from the monologue.  I tried to engage every actor in chit-chat to get an idea of who they were.  Quite a few people just couldn't do it; they were nervous, or assumed we were in a hurry.  No matter how good the monologue, those actors didn't make the cut.

2 - Don't rush out of the room.  This is a big problem!  People were reaching for the door before I had a chance to ask them for a second monologue or to ask them any questions.  In most cases, I just let them go.  Those aren't the kind of people who are going to be easy to work with.

3 - Don't ask me to be a facebook friend.  I listed my company email address, and mailing address.  This is my preferred way to being contacted.  I don't know you; we're not friends.

4 - Do follow up by email or mail.  Followups give me  a chance to remember the best auditions.  And it shows eagerness, and professionalism.

5 - Dress well.  Let me know you care about the impression you make.

6 - Be prepared with a contrasting monologue. If the first one shows talent, I may wanted to see more range.   We're casting a whole season - lots of roles!

7 - If you only have one monologue, that's okay.  But it should be warm.  No rape, no molestation, no excessive cursing.

8 - Ask questions if you like. Research the company, and try to figure out how you'd fit.

We're in the Off-off Broadway community, and we build the company through auditions like this.  Think about that when you audition.  We want talented, fun, nice people to stick with us for years.  You are not just someone we're going to hire and drop.

I guess, in that way, it's different from most auditions you'll go on.

I hope this helps, and maybe I'll see you for our second day.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

5 small marketing tips for actors

When clients come to me for coaching, I'm ready to give them everything!  A full, comprehensive plan-of-attack for their career.  I want them to leave with a full set of plans on how to make every aspect of their career HAPPEN!

Then, when they come in, I remember that everyone only has a finite amount of resources.  Not just money and time, but patience, energy and mental head-space.  So, often I leave them with a few small things they can do.  And once they put these good practices into place, we add more.  The results they see add confidence (and sometimes money), and we just keep building.

So, here are a few small things that you can start doing right now, which are simple, but can lead to huge dividends.

1 - The number one most important thing to do is send postcards.  (Even if you're in a smaller market. ) Go to a cheaper website, like or, and order 100.  Make a list (maybe a spreadsheet) of the CDs, Agents, and Managers who you may have met or auditioned for.  Send them a postcard every 4-6 weeks with what's going on with your career.

Postcards create and maintain relationships.  Until the industry changes this is how most people prefer to be contacted.  Again, the NUMBER ONE best marketing tip.

2 - Pick 3 friends/colleagues who have careers you admire and buy them coffee.  I did this a while back, and it way a huge eye-opener.  Firstly, actors are collaborative by nature, and they love to share ideas.  Actors are generous that way.  Secondly, besides concrete marketing ideas, they give you an understanding of how to be.  By that I mean, what kind of attitude do they have that draws success and happiness toward them?  Thirdly, these people can be friends and collaborators for the rest of your career.  You have to make a community, or this business is really lonely. (Also, coffee is tax-deductible in this case.)

3 - Volunteer!  If you contact and agent or a manager and say, "I'd like to work in your office a few times for FREE to better understand what you do," they will say yes.  Volunteer to do the same for a casting director, or even better!, offer to be a reader.  The worst that happens is they say no.  The best that happens is that you learn a lot, at the same time as making a connection.

4 - Facebook and twitter.  "Like" and "follow" anyone you can find.  Agents, casting directors, managers, actors, marketing coaches, acting teachers, producers.  You'll not only get casting notices, but you'll also get to know what they are about.
Some casting directors do mostly modeling.  Some agencies work with kids only.  Some managers only have clients who are Asian.  It's your job to know the landscape.  And the worst thing that happens is you get a little spam.

5 - Sign up for one class that is out of your comfort zone.  If you've never had a class with a TV casting director, sign up for one.  Maybe Actors Green Room or Actors Connection.  Sign up for a VoiceOver coaching, maybe Shut Up And Talk.  A monologue class.  A musical theatre class.  An improv class.

Just do one of these things.  Just ONE.  And if it feels good, do another.  Take your time, build your confidence, and I promise you: you'll get closer to the career of your dreams.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Accountability Groups

I've already blogged a few times about accountability, but it bares repeating.  Making goals is great, but if you don't hold yourself to accomplishing them, then you're sunk.

Recently, I've heard buzz about accountability groups.  GREAT IDEA.  Small groups of actors meet on a regular basis, and help each other along.  Collaborations like this make every member of the group stronger.

Setting up an accountability group:
•Choose some like-minded friends.  Don't be afraid to ask people who are further along in their careers.  Don't be afraid to ask someone who is specializing in something different than you.  Don't be afraid to ask people with whom you compete for jobs. I'd say no more than 8 people.
•Set up a recurring schedule.   Meet as often as serves you, but at least every 2 months.
•Be honest about where you are in your career and where you want to be.
•Ask for help.
•Give help.
•Put your minds together for projects that you can't do alone, but a group of colleagues can accomplish.   (Produce a play.  Do a web series.  Plan mailings together.)
•Register for classes together, and help each other rehearse for those classes.
•Exploit group discounts.  Headshot photographers, for example.

But here's what I think is most important:

Work with your group to develop both goals and action plans.
Goals are the results you'd like to see.
     •I want to get a legit agent.
     •I want to book my first national commercial.
     •I want to join Equity.
Action plans are thing you will do to achieve the goals.  Actions steps are 100% achievable, and in your control.
     •I will take a class with a TV casting director.
     •I will mail postcards every 4 to 6 weeks.
     •I will get complete a voice over demo.

Write them down.  Share them with the group.  And MAKE SURE everyone does what they promise they will.

Then finally, celebrate the results.  When one of you wins, you all win.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What did you create in 2012?

I named 2012, “The Year of Creation,” because it became clear to me that if you’ve gotten to age 25 without being “discovered” your best bet was to create something yourself… something that showcases you in exactly the best light.

-Create a one-person show
-Write and produce a short film
-Write a pilot, and shoot a sizzle reel
-Do some open-mic standup comedy
-Join a long-form improve team
-Create a show to host, and post it on youtube
    and the list goes on...

There are concrete ways to reach these goals.  Take a look at these resources…

And that's just a few.  Hey, with a phone that takes video, and an internet connection - you're live!

So, what's stopping you?
If the process seems too large, and the task too daunting - ask friends for help.  Get an accountability partner.  People are shockingly willing to work for free.

It's fear that stops us from doing these things.  Be your own Marketing Coach.  Wouldn't you push yourself toward creation?

Good luck in 2013, folks.  And keep working hard!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Celebrity Look-a-likes

This is an esoteric piece of advice that someone told me once.  I thought of it this week when I was looking at a friend's webvideos.  She does a dead-on impersonation of a celebrity, and she looks JUST LIKE HER.

If you resemble a celebrity, you should contact their agent and offer your services.  Maybe that actor needs a on-camera sibling, or a stand-in?

How do you find their agent? Two ways:
1- pay to join, and you'll often find their information listed.
2 - contact Equity or SAG-AFRTA and ask for the membership department.  Pretend you're casting, and you have an offer for them.  They'll give you the information.

Then, send a headshot.

Okay, okay - I know this is a long-shot.  But, if I looked like a dead-on celebrity, I would definitely give this a try.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Inside a Casting Studio: You are your own business

This is a great post from Christine McKenna and CMcKenna Casting.
This stuff always needs reinforcement.

Inside a Casting Studio: You are your own business: To be a successful, professional actor that  keeps working you must market yourself and commit to acting as though you are your own busines...

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I was posed an interesting question this week: If you had $10,000 to spend on your career, how would you spend it?

This question is interesting, but this question led me to an even more interesting question:  Why am I not working night-and-day to earn $10,000 to do all the things I think I should be doing for my career?

I'll start with the first question.  (And my answers aren't for everyone, just for me.)
Here's how I would spend the $10,000:

•New Headshots, including reproductions - $1400
•Better VO demo - $1200
•Classes with Casting directors  - $4000  (This is probably the BEST way to spend investment money.)
•A trainer to get me in shape for pilot season - $2000  (Oof - I hate this, but it's smart.)
•Great audition clothes, and a great haircut - $600
•Excellent holiday gifts for agent/manager - $200
•Mailings, supplies, miscellaneous - $600

Now, I don't have an extra $10,000 to spend, but is it irresponsible to me and my career to not dedicate myself to making an extra $10,000 to invest in my career?  Do I think that a $10,000 investment is wise?

Here's what I came up with:  I think I do need to invest more money than I do in my career if I want the momentum to pick up.  Therefore, I do need to make more money.

I've always felt that it is inadequate to invest money when-you-have-it in your career.  That just means you never invest.  I'm a big fan of committing to a yearly budget-knowing what you are willing to spend, and how you're willing to spend it.

But the fact remains: if your career isn't moving fast enough, you have to invest more to get it going.

Personally, I don't think I need to add $10,000 a year to my budget, but maybe $3,000.  Now... where do I get that money?

Do you need to be investing more?  How would you spend it?