Dealing with Potential Conflicts in an Actor’s Schedule

Hi Bonnie,

I’ve been a long-time reader, finally moved to LA nine days ago, and have registered for Central Casting and on Showfax. I’ve got an audition for a student film, and I’m seeing lots of other stuff that I would like to submit for but several of the projects shoot at the same time. So IF I book the gig I have an audition for and IF I get called in for the second job and IF they want to book me, that would be a conflict.

I’m not sure what the protocol is for that. There’s a lot of ifs in there, but I wouldn’t want to get called for something that, by the time they get back to me, I might have to say, “Sorry, I suddenly can’t make it.”

What’s the protocol here?

Eric Eberle

Hello Eric, and welcome to LA! It sounds like you are OFF to the races, as they say, and have had no trouble diving in and getting out there for your first auditions in town. Awesome!

Okay, so the whole “what if” thing is a biggie for actors (and creative freelancers of all kind, really) because there’s not much “for sure” action in our lives, right? So we say yes to one thing, knowing we’ve been working toward getting involved with another thing, and when we see that those dates collide, we begin to stress out about the “what ifs” of it all.

Lemme give you a great line from my beloved husband: “Anxiety is the opposite of being present.”

So, the first tip is to just do everything you can to try and feel present. Right NOW you have auditions. That’s it. You have no offers. You have no conflicts. You have auditions. Awesome. Relax about everything else.

Yes, of course, it’s the responsible, professional thing to PLAN for those what ifs, but I’m going to encourage you to come up with a general policy, and then forget about the day-to-day stress until there’s actually an issue you need to address.

What’s a good general policy? Some actors will not submit on anything with dates that conflict with anything on which they’ve already auditioned. Of course, dates can change (on either project), so the downside of this policy is that you’ve held yourself OUT of the running on the second project and the first one (which you haven’t even booked yet) could shifts dates, meaning you could’ve actually done both… but you never even went out for the second one.

Some actors will not only submit on projects with conflicting dates, but they’ll go out on auditions for both projects, go to callbacks for both projects, and not stress about scheduling until they BOOK both projects, causing a headache for production (and potentially pissing off casting directors and talent agents, both of whom would’ve loved a heads up about the potential conflict, sooner).

I think the best choice is somewhere in between.

Once you’re going out a LOT — especially in a market as active as LA — it’s going to start to click for you that you can’t possibly keep up with all the dates, and you’ll also start to see that MANY times, projects’ dates change. So, to try and keep it all straight and to try and avoid any potential conflicts even before you agree to audition is eventually going to become crazymaking.

I’ve found the best practice to be COMMUNICATION about potential conflicts. Right now, you have none. You are simply auditioning for a bunch of things that ALL could turn into bookings and that ALL could have date changes, even after shooting has begun. In my book, communication about potential conflicts absolutely should happen when a callback is granted, if not before.

So, say you book the first job but you had already auditioned for the second job (before you booked the first one). You get word that you’ve got a callback for the second job. At that moment, you disclose that SINCE your preread you have booked a job that shoots on dates that conflict with this one. That way, the casting director can tell you (or your agent, if the communication is going on between them) whether the dates are even still the same (because they may have changed) and can elect to NOT have you come to callbacks, since they now know you won’t be available, if the dates are firm.

Sure, even after all that, the dates on the first project could shift and you’ll kick yourself for having taken yourself out of the running on the second one, but it’s just gonna happen sometimes! And by disclosing your status when there’s still time for the buyers to bring in other choices, you at least retain your relationship with them, so they can remember your talent AND your professionalism, and bring you in again in the future.

I know this seems like a really long answer for a very simple question, but that’s with good reason. There are a lot of variables you’re dealing with, always, as an actor, and the best bet is to start coming up with some personal policies on things like this BEFORE there’s the stress of being in the moment, faced with a crisis of ethics and professionalism. That way, you can always have a plan… and then stave off anxiety by remaining present and by staying focused on what exists in the here and now. πŸ™‚

Keep rockin’ those auditions! Glad LA is treating you well.

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 Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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  1. Emily February 9, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Hi Bonnie! I know this is a super old post, but it’s almost exactly what I was going to ask you – though my conflicts, right now, tend to be day-job related. I live in a fairly major theatre market, not New York, but many decent-sized equity house, etc. I also do films and industrials. My new day job has an everybody-must-work-all-day-sat-and-sun policy that I wasn’t told about until after all my paperwork was signed, so while I look for something more conducive to theatre right now, I am continuing to audition (and i audition A LOT!) I’ve had a few callbacks but no bookings yet, but I’m concerned about what happens when I finally do book something. I have been listing the conflicts with the caveat that there is potential for them to not actually be conflicts….but is there a better way to handle this? I was told by several colleagues in the biz not to say “no conflicts” if my work schedule is an issue, only to have to turn around after being cast and tell them “by the way, I have this work issue.” But I also sense that it would potentially prevent me from consideration of any kind if I DO list them. So I don’t want to lie, but I don’t want to be so transparent that nobody ever wants to book me for anything, and I’m not sure how many jobs I might have gotten were this policy not an issue for me right now, if it has in fact impacted my latest callbacks.

    Any advice on how to handle this?

    Thanks – love the book πŸ™‚

  2. Bonnie Gillespie Bonnie Gillespie March 11, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    Hiya Emily and thanks for the book love! πŸ˜€ Glad you found your way here.

    So, we recently went through the casting process for our Cricket Feet Showcase. BEFORE the auditions, we had this extensive submission process and it included acknowledgement that everyone had seen our schedule with all our mandatory dates.

    At auditions, we posted those same mandatory dates and had the session runner ask every auditioning actor to write on their resumΓ©s “no conflicts” *or* any conflicts they did have with those dates.

    We were in the room with people who knew about the dates before they submitted and then at this time they were sharing with us that they wouldn’t be able to join us for X or Y date in our mandatory schedule.

    Here’s where this gets relevant for you: If we were crazy about someone, we would ask, “So, how real is this conflict?” and we would have a convo about it. Sometimes, the conflict would be a deal-breaker. Other times, it wouldn’t. We were so excited about a couple o’ people that we worked around it.

    I think being totally honest is best… ONCE you’re at the point at which it’s getting real. Meaning, if some of these folks had disclosed a conflict UPON SUBMISSION, we may not have scheduled them for auditions at all. But get the audition. Disclose it THEN. Don’t wait ’til callbacks or (worse) the booking moment. THAT could have negative consequences, long-haul. But disclosing it once things get going — especially since for the RIGHT gig you might actually tell your job-job to stuff it, right? — is smart business.

    Trust your gut! πŸ™‚


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