Welcome to the first installment of the fully-interactive Actor’s Voice at Showfax.com! I’m excited to get to know you, write about the issues that are important to you, and answer the questions that you bring to the screen, week after week.
Let’s jump right in with a casting issue that has occurred for me, time and again, already in my new career as a casting director.
Actor Contact Information
Most unrepresented actors will tell you that they are eager to sign with an agent or manager. Most represented actors will tell you that they know how fortunate they are — especially at the beginning of their careers — to be in a good agent’s talent roster. All true.
And no matter how fantastic your relationship is with your representation, there is no way for you to know — every single moment — what is happening on your behalf. We’ve all heard that, since you — the actor — receive the larger percentage of the paychecks, you are in fact responsible for that same large percentage of your job-getting routine. What happens when someone in casting contacts your agent to schedule an audition and — perhaps due to the low budget on the project — your agent passes on your behalf? You never knew about the audition. And what if it was for a role you’d have loved to read for, loved to play? You’ll never know.
Here’s a specific example that really breaks my heart.
I put out a breakdown for a feature film and one of the roles was that of a child. I received many submissions from agents, managers, and directly from actors (or their parents, in this case). I contacted one agency and scheduled five children for audition sessions and was told I’d receive a call back if any of the actors could not make the scheduled appointment times. I received no calls and assumed all actors were confirmed, as was indicated by the agent when I first made the appointments.
Two of the five actors from this agency no-showed. No phone calls. No follow-up to say why the actors weren’t there. Nothing.
First of all, I can tell you that this absolutely changes my feelings about this particular agency, when it comes to scheduling. Will I still go to them? Sure. Will I overbook in order to make up for the inevitable no-shows? Probably. Will I be sure to ask for confirmation calls on each of the actors I schedule? Yep. You betcha.
But here’s what upsets me about this particular issue: the day after the prereads for this role, I received a mailed submission from the parent of one of the actors who no-showed. Now, does that mean that the agent never told the child about the audition? Does it mean that the parent submitted the child not knowing the agent already had done so? Is it possible that the agent simply couldn’t reach the family to schedule the audition appointment? Where did the communication break down here?
Somewhere. Wherever it broke down, it certainly broke down. And I thought, “Oh, good! I can call the mother of this child and tell her that I’d love to see the actor on our callback day, since clearly some mix-up caused the child to never show up at the audition I’d scheduled for prereads.” Nope. There was no personal contact information on this submission. Cover letter and resumé both included the agency contact information ONLY. Hm. Now I’m thinking, “Well, the agency route already failed me once on this particular actor. Do I go through them again or do I give that next session appointment to one of the many other actors who would cringe to know someone had no-showed a preread?”
What I would’ve liked to do — ideally — is contact the parents directly and schedule the actor for an appointment during callbacks. But due to the fact that the actor’s contact information was nowhere to be found, that wasn’t an option.
My point is this: please have your personal contact information on your resumé. Please include a personal contact number — one that doesn’t change every time you move or lose your cell phone or wish you hadn’t given your number to a creep — or even a website address. I can follow that URL to your webpage and there, certainly, you’ve created a CONTACT page that includes your representatives’ information as well as your own email address and personal contact number.
Does this mean I’m going to cut out the agent and manager altogether? No way! I’ve been working hard to develop my relationship with agents and managers and have no interest in being “that casting director who hates agents.” No way! What it means is, when that road fails for whatever reason, I have a backup method of reaching you. If you’re worried that you will offend your agent or manager by putting your personal contact information on your resumé — or if there is a strict policy against it altogether in your contract — you should still be sure that you are “findable” online.
How far will I go to find an actor? Hell, if it’s someone a director or producer has specifically requested, you’d better believe I will turn the Internet upside-down looking for that person. I’ll check for contact information through IMDb.com, WhoRepresents.com, CastSAG.com, ATA’s Actor Agent Search, through Breakdown Services, LA Casting, Academy Players Directory, and a good ol’ Google search, just for starters. I’ll call SAG’s Actors To Locate phone line and even check Information to track down an actor’s number.
Try to find yourself. If you can’t do it, neither can a casting director. Enough said.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000030.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.