How to Get into the Room

So, last week was all about being “room ready” and this week we’ll tackle the follow-up question that I knew would come from many readers (and it did), “Yeah. I’m ready. But I can’t even get invited INTO the room. What do *I* do, Bon?”

Okay, first off, let’s talk about whether you even *have to* get into the room these days. Yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone loves to say that there’s nothing like that in-person audition experience, but guys, self-taped auditions are here to stay, and many actors are only getting into the room after having been pre-screened via initial self-tape. We’ll get more into that particular bit of ninjosity in next week’s column!

But assuming you’ve gotten down with self-taping, you realize that getting into the room can sometimes happen after you rock a taped audition. That takes the pressure off, of course, because now you know you’re *really* in the running — not just one of hundreds brought in for this particular role — since your self-taped audition pre-qualified you. (Of course, for some, perhaps that increases the pressure, huh?)

In addition to self-taped auditions being utilized more and more every day, there are also the ever-popular straight offers. Sure, these are most typically happening when NAME actors are involved, but don’t be so quick to think that you could never be on the receiving end of a straight offer. Because you are regularly working with a network of actors to create your own content (You are, right?), you will find more and more “little projects” for which your name is on a list, and those are rooms you don’t even need to get into. Straight booking! Woo hoo!

All right, so with that in mind, let’s get down to how to get into the room. Either you have no representation or your representation is letting you down, when it comes to wielding a crowbar and wedging you into rooms. Whatever. Not important. There are a zillion reasons you might not be getting in, and this column isn’t the place to debug every reader’s particular situation. Let’s just say “you’d like to get in” (more, or at all) and work on that, shall we?

First off, examine your tier. Many, many actors make the mistake of thinking — with zero TV credits — they should be testing at network next pilot season. Or — with nothing but shorts and low-budget indies on their resumés — they should be up for a lead in the next major studio blockbuster. A reality check is required, if you fall into this category. It’s not to say you can’t have goals, nor is it to say that you won’t ever be able to have those amazing experiences, but to set your sights on a tier *too* high is to fall victim to one of the main reasons actors don’t get into rooms.

Once you’ve gotten very clear with yourself about what the immediate next tier up for you looks like, you can start submitting yourself on projects for which you’re more likely to get invited in for an audition!

The next bit of clarity comes from examining your type, your vibe, and where these things intersect with buyers who regularly populate stories with actors just like you! For example, if you were MADE for a cop show that airs on one of the grittier cable networks, you need to *major in* the casting director, the casting associate, and even the casting assistants for that show. Setting up Google Alerts on these folks will get info coming into your inbox about their whereabouts (not just CD workshops, but also panel discussions at film festivals, events with SAG Foundation, and any interviews they’ve done). Your understanding of these buyers will put you on the fast-track to getting into the room. You’ll learn what they’re open to and what doesn’t work with them. You’ll start building a relationship with these TARGETED buyers way before your first audition for them.

By becoming acutely aware of not only what your immediate next tier up looks like *and* who your exact buyers are, you’re going to be submitting more intelligently. It’s not about getting into ANY room; it’s about getting into rooms where there are opportunities that could actually line up with you, sooner!

I’ve already written a ton about agent-free auditioning (and there are updates in the comments section of this piece, so please go back and read all the way through), so I won’t rehash WHERE to submit (Actors Access, duh), but I definitely recommend you revisit that article!

If you’ve done your homework about yourself, you’re using headshots that really work FOR those targets you’ve isolated, and as you’re attending more and more events at which your targets are appearing, you’re becoming familiar to them, which makes your headshot more clickable, when it comes across in a wave of hundreds (or thousands) of submissions on a single role.

Meanwhile (OF COURSE), you are creating content that showcases you doing your best, on-brand work in exactly the type of project your targets actively cast. That way, when you’re asked for footage, you have amazing stuff to show your target buyers, so they can get inspired to bring you in.

And, naturally, the more content creation you and your friends have going on, the stronger those relationships become and the more straight offer situations you find yourself encountering.

So… get to submitting. And submit as early as possible, as casting moves FAST. Once the breakdown is a day old, it’s most likely stale. Move along. If you’re just starting out, target student films and low-budget indies with storylines that help you get footage that features you doing exactly what will show the buyers at the NEXT tier what it is you do that helps them get *their* stories told.

As the saying goes, “Pursue the work, not the people.” Yes, research the people. Do your homework. Be smart about how you pursue your auditions, absolutely. But spend every spare moment creating content that answers ANY doubts the buyers may have about whether or not you can get the job done, when it comes time for them to consider you.

That’ll get you in the room faster than “submitting on everything” ever will.


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!


Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001699.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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