Hello Bonnie!

Congrats on your recent and upcoming Self-Management for Actors Seminar tours; you must be beyond excited!

I had a question for you and hope you can help. In asking, or offering rather, to be an intern for a casting director, what is it that you should or should not say? Most importantly, what do you NOT want to hear from a hopeful intern?

Thank you and all the best!
Brittney Bruno

Great questions, Brittney! So many casting offices use the help of interns — and often those folks are actors — that it’s a great idea to get clear on what we’re looking for, if interning is something you’d like to do. Now, some casting offices will not use actors, and that’s something you can figure out pretty easily, just by doing a little Googling and reading everything you can in various interviews with the casting directors you’re targeting. If you’re targeting an office for interning but can’t find any good info about what they look for in an intern, make use of your social networks and ask others who may have some inside scoop to share.

Now, I’d like to recommend that you NOT make your first-choice casting office for an internship one that you’re targeting, highest-priority, for your acting career. That’s a recipe for disaster and you need to learn the ins and outs of interning in an office you’re not as eager to penetrate. For example, when I started interning in casting offices (in 1999), it was for commercial casting directors. Because I had prime targets in the theatrical realm of casting, I avoided their offices altogether for interning, until I had more experience. I was able to learn the basics that exist in all casting offices without the pressure of feeling like I needed to prove I was someone that office should consider as an actor.

And it’s exactly that sort of anxiety that causes some casting offices to lay out policy against working with actors in an internship capacity, frankly. Does that mean you should lie about your life as an actor? No. I find that actors who are up-front about their lives as actors are on solid footing from the beginning, in the casting offices where they intern. And eventually, they may get a great opportunity on-camera! But that can’t be the agenda, going in. So, as for what NOT to say? That’d be something along the lines of, “I’m a huge fan of the show you cast and know I’d be a perfect fit for waitress #2 in an upcoming episode. To show you how eager and professional I am, I’d love the chance to come intern for you one afternoon.” No. That’s filled with red flags.

There are too many wonderful things to learn, in working in casting office, for the primary goal to be “to get cast.” Just seeing the number of submissions, the process of filtering, and the massive undertaking that is scheduling basic prereads can be very eye-opening (not to mention if you’re invited to experience any of the sessions themselves, witness deliberations, offers, and contract negotiations). You’ll learn it’s never personal when a talented actor isn’t cast. You’ll learn how clear it is which agencies are respected and which ones are not. You’ll learn what a great headshot looks like and how infrequently most of the marketing materials actors spend thousands of dollars on are ever even looked at. You’ll learn a LOT, all while building a relationship with some really talented people who may or may not think about you for a job down the line.

So, as with most issues in this business of ours, I’d say start by researching your targets. Call the offices and ask whether they’re accepting interns and what the criteria might be. I’d imagine most folks are going to require referral, as there’s going to be a trust factor, there. So, keeping track of your friends who have worked in casting offices and asking them whether there might be an “in” through them is worth doing too. As always, take the long-haul approach. Plan to commit for more than just a few months, and soak up everything you can, while invited in for some “other side of the desk” work.

Any tips to share for fellow actors on the hunt for internships? Pop ’em in the comments section, below. Thanks for jamming with us!

Wanna be sure your tools *and* your mindset are in peak form? Let us get you in gear with some FREE training right now!

Woo HOO!

Bonnie Gillespie autographed the internet


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/001424.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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5 Comments

  1. Pingback: InterFACE Talent Agency Tip: Casting Assistant Internship For Success

  2. Avatar Rick October 10, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Thanks for the question Brittney and for the advice and info, Bonnie… So, basically there is no chance getting an internship unless you have a referral? And also most agencies require you to be attending college or have a bachelors degree, in order to be considered for an internship, right? I heard of a casting apprenticeship program through Tepper Semester, but its def expensive. I want to try and avoid that if possible. For someone who doesn’t have a referral, a bachelor’e degree or attending college what do you recommend? Just, keep contacting offices until I find one that says “yes”?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Bonnie Gillespie Bonnie Gillespie October 27, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      Oh, Rick, you can definitely get an internship without a referral. Happens all the time! The web of trust works in lots of ways and relationships are built from all sorts of beginnings. And that means you work just like you would to build relationships with folks who cast projects you want to be a part of. You study them, learn how they operate, connect with them organically in the ways you’ve studied that they tend to connect with strangers who someday become colleagues or co-workers. 🙂 Think of the long game.

      And no, you do not have to have any sort of degree to be an intern, in general. Certainly some folks will state that they have a preference for a type of degree in a job posting and you should check those guidelines before submitting, but it’s not at all an absolute! While some companies will only work with people who are actively engaged in the pursuit of a degree, that’s the big corporations, not the little indie companies.

      So, it’s all about doing your research. Learn what companies have what sort of policies and just build up your show bible just like actors do for shows they’re targeting. It’s the same business practice, just for a different type of job. Hooray! The SMFA principles work everywhere, really!

      Reply
      1. Avatar Rick March 9, 2016 at 8:34 pm

        I just saw this… Thank you so much for the reply! I appreciate it!

        Rick

        Reply

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