Okay, Bonnie, I love your columns, but I think you may have missed the point of one of the gripes you featured in last week’s edition. A parent had expressed frustration at CDs who don’t seem to “get” what the average height of a kid of a certain age is, and your response was in the direction of how casting doesn’t always represent reality. I think that the parent quoted may have been more frustrated at being called in for parts that were really to play younger, when that isn’t mentioned in the breakdown.

If the CD is picturing a seven year old a certain way (maybe because so many acting kids are small for their age) they are frequently surprised when a NORMAL sized seven year old comes in. If the CD knew that a typical seven year old is say 48″, and they really need a kid six inches shorter than that, they could post a breakdown noting a maximum height, or saying “to play age five.” Submissions would then be more on target and less time would be wasted all the way around.

My wish is that the breakdown would say “to play age eight” instead of “eight to twelve” because my experience is that, though my girls are about twelve and in that range, they will NEVER pass for eight year olds! That would increase the appropriateness of submissions, and help the kids who are called in to be better prepared for the read. (I do think most good agents are in tune with what ages their clients can play, and try to submit accordingly.)

That’s where an average height chart would help: to enable casting to better define what they’re looking for in submissions, and save us all some time.

I hear you! I absolutely did get the point that a big part of the frustration was coming from the inaccurate depiction of needs in the breakdown. I also know that it’s going to be about impossible to work through all of the many, many places where the information could break down. Look at the chain of communication.

Look at commercial casting. Start with the client (product). A client tells the ad agency what age they want the young actor to be. The ad agency rep who hires the CD may not be the same person to whom the client specified the age of the actor. So, by the time the CD puts out the breakdown, she could be going on information passed through the “telephone game” so many times that even if someone on the decision-making end of things had said, “No taller than 42 inches” at one point, that information may never have reached the CD. So, the breakdown goes out with an age range rather than a maximum height, and actors who will have no shot whatsoever at getting cast will, unfortunately, spend time and energy preparing for and auditioning for a role.

So, yes, even if the CD had an average height chart in her office, if what has been communicated to her by the guy who hired her is off from what the decision-makers have envisioned, there’s not much that a height chart could’ve fixed.

Obviously, you’re going to adore those CDs who go out of their way to include as much information as possible about the project (including age range needed, physical build, etc.), but quite simply, not all CDs have all of the information, at the time they put out the breakdown. Many times, it’s not until the decision-makers are together in a room after the auditions that certain criteria is set. (And it can depend on who is cast in other roles, matching looks, any number of things!)

Again, I will recommend that you keep a log of every CD for whom you (or your children) have auditioned. Notes such as, “Consistently calls us in for roles we’re not right for (for whatever reason),” will be very helpful, as you decide whether to invest your time and energy in getting ready for and/or even going to the next audition at her office.


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/000348.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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