Hi Bonnie,

As always, I look forward every week to eagerly read your column. I agree — casting is like shopping.

Right now, I am doing extras casting for a small small indie film and I cannot say enough how eye-opening being on the other side of acting is. I have over 60 “clothes” to choose from and it’s a tough decision when I know that all 60 actors are great and hard workers and creative and awesome.

Trying out both sides — acting and casting — has really helped me to be a better “non-actor mind taffy” actor and also a better person. Nowadays I don’t take things personally as much nor do I bring any “baggage” home.

As always your column rocks. Thanks for demystifying the casting process. 🙂

All my best,
Sandy’Ci Moua

Absolutely my pleasure, Sandy’Ci. I’m so glad to know that casting has been an eye-opener for you. Every actor I’ve met who has done any time on “the other side” has felt similarly: less stressed about the process, more clear on why we do or say certain things in the room, and absolutely more confident in their own future auditions. Awesome! Glad the shopping story worked for you. 🙂 Me too!

Hi Bonnie,

I read your column religiously and I just have to say the shopping analogy is your best one yet! It makes sooo much sense! It’s like when a great actor who makes a really bold, interesting choice comes in the room and the CD loves them but they don’t get the part. It’s equivalent to trying on something out of your comfort zone, maybe a little more risqué than your always-reliable jeans and a tee, and you think to yourself, “I wish I were punk rock enough to wear this, because I love it.” But you’re just not ready yet or it’s not the right occasion to be so bold. Just thought I’d add my two cents on your analogy since I think it was so brilliant.

Now to my actual question. You’re always telling us to make things happen for ourselves, submit, do workshops, and self-produce. I — as many actors have — have found a way to receive the breakdowns. I also have email links to a lot of CDs. Would it be inappropriate if I see something like a good episodic guest star to send them an email with my headshot and resumé and a very brief note? Would it even get looked at? I just know with episodics, it moves so fast it can be almost impossible to self-submit through snail mail or even a drop-off since often it’s really hard to get on the lots. Anyway I would love your thoughts on if that would be no-no actor behavior.

Thanks for always demystifying the mysterifications of being an actor.

LOL I love “mysterifications.” That’s my new favorite word. Thank you for that.

I actually mentioned in this week’s column that I think the “agent and manager only breakdowns” are a great source of research material for an actor. The problem is, when actors get the breakdowns to which they were never intended access, their behavior almost always crosses a line. Let me be more specific: some actors’ behavior almost always crosses a line. It’s why I use a PO Box for my casting business. Sure, agents and managers have my home address for messengering materials over before I’m put up (very short-term) in a production office on an indie film or pilot, but once that gets out to actors, I’m guaranteed drop-offs, drop-bys, pop-ins, full-on “park outside my house and wait to grab me on the way in”s. And I’m not kidding.

So the buffer of the studio lot is actually a very welcome thing, for many casting directors. And those who do work out of a fixed office from project to project, rather than moving every few months end up posting signs that read, “NO DROP-OFFS,” or, “JUST DROP IT AND LEAVE,” or, “TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT.” And I’m not kidding about any of that either. 😉

Sure, some offices are drop-off friendly. And some casting directors are email friendly. Others have posted headlines on their social networking pages that if you contact them via the email address they’ve shared with their “friends” at that site about a submission or a role on a project they’re casting, they’ll ban you from their office. And I have to believe they mean that. Just like I mean that I won’t look at emailed submissions when I’m doing electronic submissions only (yes, I know, technically emailed submissions are electronic submissions, but I mean that I accept submissions only through the breakdown, electronically), these other CDs may mean that you won’t get a shot in their office after you cross that line.

So, I say do research! When you do CD workshops with a particular CD, make your question, “If I see a role I’m right for, may I email you a reminder that I exist? A link to my demo reel?” And if the CD says, “No. Don’t ever do that,” then you’d best believe that’s policy in that office. And if a CD says, “Sure. Why not?” then cool. That CD goes on your email list.

Basically, tread lightly. Do your research on the individuals you’re targeting and also let your agent and/or manager do the heavy lifting on getting you in on those breakdowns to which they have access. And absolutely, if it’s a film or a pilot or something else where you have more than a few minutes of time to get something over to the office, send that headshot, send a postcard, heck — tape yourself doing a scene from the script and get that DVD over to the office so you’re in the mix, ASAP.

Good luck to you and thanks for writing!


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/000997.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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