That line, in bold and all-caps, was prominently featured in the breakdown I put out on and to agents and managers through a few weeks ago. There was a reason for that: I had less than one week to cast this film.

Sure, it’s possible to get a submission to me in the mail in time to get called in to prereads — if you manage to see the breakdown the day it comes out and all of the postal gods are working for you. But why chance that any snag will catch your submission, causing me to receive it — as was the case for 500 or so mailed headshots and resum├ęs–the day after the film was cast?

Let me give you a glimpse of how I was doing business, around wee-o’clock in the morning, after the breakdown went out.

I sorted the electronic submissions by “appropriate for the role,” “right type but no credits,” “submitted on the wrong role but still good,” and “not getting a call to audition for this project.” Then, I used a function that allows me to share my lists (and sorting criteria) with the producer and director of the film I’ve been hired to cast. After that, I began creating audition sessions for a few days away — grouped by role — and I pre-selected actors whose work I knew well enough to go ahead and schedule without waiting for feedback from the producer and director on the emailed lists I’d sent earlier.

By around sunrise, I’d received an email from the director with her thoughts on the actors whose submissions I’d sent over electronically a few hours before and went back to the Breakdown Services’ website to create appointments for the actors I’d been on the fence about but for whom the director had cast a deciding vote.

Within moments, I began noticing confirmation of audition appointments from managers, agents, and actors themselves through the online notification process at the website. One or two folks asked for rescheduled appointments, but here it was, not even 24 hours after posting my breakdown online, and most of my prereads were scheduled.

Sure, I got a few pitch calls from agents and worked a few actors in who were never submitted electronically, but by the time mailed submissions arrived the following day, I had already scheduled so many actors that there were very few slots left for prereads, and those mailed submissions had to be mighty impressive in order to get me on the phone just two days before the preread to schedule the appointment.

Two days of prereads were followed by a day of callbacks and only after the final casting meetings with the producer, director, and a couple of consultants on this film did I head back to the mailbox to gather the hundreds of submissions that arrived while we were in sessions. Obviously, I was not going to be opening submissions and scheduling actors while in sessions for those three days. But that is when most of the mailed submissions arrived for this project.

Of course, I had to open every single one. This project is quite high-profile and has a pedigree that will ensure its presence in many award-nominee lists. I really wanted to see the actors who were hungry to be a part of it — many of them far more well-known than actors I’d ever auditioned for any project. Yeah, I got submissions — in the mail and a day too late — from “offer-only” name actors for this one. Damn shame.

Does that mean we have a less-than-perfect cast and we could’ve had a better project if these folks in my mail bin had been brought in for reads? Quite frankly, that’s an irrelevant question. The answer just doesn’t matter either way. We have the cast that we have and I am grateful that I was able to pull together casting for a film in just eight days, start to finish. I’ll hang onto some of the headshots that came in by mail and attempt to see these actors on future projects. And I’ll post this article about the value of electronic submissions — especially when it is announced initially that the prereads and callbacks will all take place within a few days of that breakdown’s release — and hope that more folks will join in the fun of near-instant actor filtering and audition scheduling.

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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