In a recent article, you mentioned this:
“We sit together and flip through headshots, discussing the notes we’ve made on the resumés, and decide which actors’ work on tape will even get a second look, after we’ve left the session.”

I’m guessing you then sit down (by yourself) and make the tape for producers. Do you always include all the takes (good and bad)?

Not by a longshot. I’d say, after six hours of prereads, about 60 minutes of footage ends up being uploaded for the producers, director, writer, investors, clients, etc., to see. I take out all of the false starts, any chitchat that may have made its way to the take, slate (if we’ve done slates), and — if we’ve done two takes on the same actor — I use the best one (and not always the whole take). And, of course, I don’t bother to edit or upload any footage of actors who don’t make it to my Long Shortlist, unless there are actors whose work I don’t respond to but who happen to be “director requested.” Those folks will always get seen on the final session uploads, even if they tank in the room. I do keep the session tapes in my home office until principal photography has wrapped on the project, in case there is need for any recasting, revisiting the footage, or desire to use casting excerpts in the finished DVD “extras.”

One of the things I’m going to try next month, when I’m holding auditions for the amazing How I Lost My Mind and Killed Someone, is asking certain actors whether their audition footage can be made public. Here’s what I’m thinking: On the last feature film I cast, when a certain manager called asking for feedback on her client, I couldn’t seem to articulate exactly what I wanted to get across about what kept the actor from leaving the Long Shortlist and making it to callbacks. So, I sent the manager a link to the actor’s audition footage, along with a link to the footage of an actor who would probably end up getting the role. I figured the manager — upon seeing the difference in type, style, level of commitment to the material, and choices in the room — would better understand why her client didn’t make it to the next level in the casting process. And she did!

So, I’m thinking that I’d like to select a few outstanding auditions from each of my 2006 sessions and, with the permission of the actors themselves, showcase the best of the best here, in my column. This way, actors who’ve not had the opportunity to intern in casting offices or work as camera operators or readers during sessions could begin to see what I’m talking about, when I say that we sometimes know “it” when we see it.

You’d dig that, right? I mean, both as a reader here and — if you were one of those “best actors” from my sessions — as a big help to me in sharing inside-the-room information. Let me hear from you! This could turn out to be a fun little “award ceremony” type event, by year’s end. Cool!

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. K. Harrison Sweeney May 7, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Hey Bon– been a while since we talked: basically not since you were kickass enough to send SMFA4 to my alma mater. In that time, I’ve streamlined my resume and online presence, increased quality of bookings instead of quantity, have several more commercials and pilots, a new film with Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, Karen Gillan, and Taissa Fargmiga, and now tomorrie morn’s “pre-read” for the younger Hobbit’s next film.

    Question– so a “pre-read” is just a callback? Am I wrong to consider it a “screen test?” My manager, who generally does pretty kickass for me, was telling me I can’t call any auditions “screen tests,” but I’m on Book/Avail 90% of the time so in my mind it’s always going to come down to me and one or two other guys. She said people will either assume I’m delusional or dim-witted.

    I told her she can tell anybody who questions my Ninjahood that I’m a time-traveling, high-powered mutant Gonzo sent from the future to save the human race using any methods I desire. Your thoughts?

    Kisses and spankins,
    KhS, PhDemon
    Fearless Fool. Salacious Sidekick. Veritable Villain.

  2. Bonnie Gillespie May 8, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    Hello sir and congrats on all the hustling! I think it’s all a matter of language and if it makes you feel good to label things a certain way, you certainly have the right to do so, but others (like your manager) may disagree on the accuracy of the language you’re choosing.

    Whatever wording, your results are unquestionable. The ratio doesn’t lie. When you and your team disagree with words, use numbers. 😉 Y’all probably agree about those!


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