By: Bob Fraser
Despite what you may have heard about “door-keepers” there are many people on the other side of the desk who are really on your side. One of the tragic mistakes many actors make, is to assume that casting directors and assistants are there to make things difficult.
In point of fact, actors are the only ones who can help them do their jobs properly – and having a good business relationship with a casting director can shorten your climb to the top … dramatically.
A casting director (sometimes called a casting agent) is usually someone who enjoys and respects actors and good acting. I’ve worked closely with dozens of casting directors and have never met one who wasn’t a fan of good actors and good acting.
Actors often ask me this question: “How can I get a casting director to hire me?”
Or sometimes they’ll make this sort of statement: “I’m a trained actor, but the casting directors won’t hire me. They only hire their friends.”
Once in awhile, I’ll hear this complaint: “Casting directors hire the same people over and over. A new actor – no matter how talented – just doesn’t have a chance.”
Okay, in an effort to clear the air between actors and casting directors, I’m going to tell you the absolute truth … from a producer’s point of view.
First off, let me make reality perfectly clear …
CASTING DIRECTORS DO NOT HIRE ACTORS.
The casting director’s actual job is to find actors who match each role’s criteria – who are then suggested/submitted to the producer for consideration.
PRODUCERS HIRE ACTORS.
When a producer assigns a casting director to a project, the producer enters into that particular relationship with certain expectations. Whether it is TV, film or theatre – a producer always operates under the assumption that the casting director will bring in a selection of ‘good actors’ from which to choose.
What follows is a list of the implicit (and sometimes explicit) expectations most producers have – when they send the casting director off to find a collection of ’good actors.’
These are the qualities that producers routinely expects the casting director to be mindful of – with regard to every actor being brought in for consideration. These are a casting director’s ‘marching orders’ … and a casting director will only ignore these dictums at the peril of his or her own job.
These are the components of a producer’s definition of ‘good actor’ …
This actor is sincere.
This actor is reliable.
This actor is a learner.
This actor is punctual.
This actor is collaborative.
This actor values our time.
This actor is an encourager.
This actor has clarity and focus.
This actor is peaceful, calm, and kind.
This actor appreciates (and accepts) advice.
This actor treats everyone like they are special.
This actor wants to serve the needs of the production.
This actor wants me to be successful and make a profit.
This actor demonstrates that s/he deserves to be successful.
This actor has the same value system and work ethic as I do.
This actor is intelligent and always uses good common sense.
This actor wants to work as hard as I do – to achieve excellence.
This actor demonstrates integrity, loyalty and honesty – consistently.
This actor personally guarantees his or her contractual agreement with me.
This actor possesses – and demonstrates – mental and physical well-being.
You probably noticed that talent and training were not mentioned. That’s because, at the professional level, talent and training are simply expected.
Most producers will assume that if you meet these other critical qualifications – you’ll probably be a capable professional actor.
They’ll be right 99% of the time.
Since casting directors know perfectly well what their duties actually are – often some very talented and well-trained actors who are late, who disparage the show, who don’t play well with others, who don’t listen, who don’t care about the outcome of the project, who demonstrate a lack of integrity, loyalty and honesty, etc. … well, those actors will find it hard to get past the casting director – talent notwithstanding.
Bluntly, life is too short.
Believe me, most casting directors aren’t so high up on the food chain, that they can’t be fired for one lousy mistake. Which is why most of them hesitate to deviate from their ‘marching orders’ … because, frankly, they want to keep their jobs.
So, now you know why the same actors get hired over and over again – they are actors who exemplify those qualities, habits and traits that define a ‘good actor’ – the things that producers are really looking for in a collaborator.
If you become an actor who possesses the ‘good actor’ traits mentioned above – you will book more work … no matter what the level of your talent or training happens to be.
Because if that’s the sort of actor you are … you will get in to see the producers a lot more often.
You can take that to the bank.