More Feedback on Matter

Hi Bonnie,

Just read your “Matter” article on The Actors Voice. Great perspective. Actually, I very happily just discovered you! =)

I have a question as a Canadian actor: Is there any way that I can get self-tapes in front of LA casting directors without going through a Canadian agent? I’m represented but my agent only wants to submit me for local productions so I’m blocked from being considered by American casting directors. And I know that California has 10x the opportunity of my city!

Also wondered: Do casting directors have time to look at headshots and resumés that actors mail in? Do they keep them on file? Or is that more wasted “busy work”?

Thanks for your time!

All the best,
“North of the Border”

Hello “North” and welcome to the badassery that is this weekly column! Thank you so much for writing in. Here’s the low-down.

Certainly, you can, on your own, submit your self-taped footage to US-based casting directors. Will it make its way to us? Will it be viewed? Will it help you reach your goals for being cast? Not likely.

Think like a buyer. A buyer in Los Angeles has seemingly infinite options for actors — locally — who can fill every role. While LA-based actors can sometimes get their self-taped audition footage seen by buyers in minor markets (especially if they’re willing to work as a local hire on the project) because there’s this perception of the “LA actor” and the value that adds to the project, it’s far more difficult for actors in minor markets (US-based or internationally) to be seen — especially via self-tape — by buyers in Los Angeles. Quite simply, it’s because we can have a hundred actors of a particular type, experience level, age, look, and vibe in a casting session within an hour.

Supply and demand. For you to attempt to get seen by LA buyers *and* to be taken seriously — especially if your agent is not on board for doing some pitching and hustling to help you make it happen — you’d need to have papers that allow you to work here, you’d probably need to be able to work as a local hire, you’d need to be a member of our performers’ unions, and you’d need to edge out all the actors we can see in person, right here.

Now, if the project in which you’re hoping to be cast shoots in Canada but is casting out of Los Angeles, that could be a different story. Many of the day players will be hired out of Canada, even if the stars are attached here. But that would mean that your agent should have a relationship with the local casting office and be able to get you in the room, there. Look toward those types of opportunities! They’re definitely out there!

As for the headshot and resumé submissions that you may mail off to casting directors — whether here or in Canada or anywhere else — fewer and fewer casting directors are keeping hard copy files these days. Sure, we may hang onto the hard copy headshots and resumés of actors we’ve cast or, while we’re in the midst of a specific casting, we will keep an active stack with our notes from auditions and callbacks written on the resumés. But especially when it comes to actors we’ve never met, hanging onto hard copy headshots and resumés mailed over to us is just not efficient use of space.

Again, think like a buyer. You eat food, but do you keep EVERY menu that’s stuck on your doorknob or mailed to you, every week? No. You toss most of them. When a brand new restaurant opens up in your area and if their menu looks really fantastic, you may put the menu up on your fridge under a magnet for a week or so, to keep it in mind as a place to check out, but that’s the best-case scenario for those menus. Most go straight to the recycling bin, week after week after week.

Far better use of your energy to really get specific in targeting buyers you’re certain will need to know you exist, whether it’s for an immediate casting need or for something down the line. Since you’re new to The Actors Voice, I’d recommend you take a look at every article in this category in my personal archive: TARGETING. It’ll rock your world. And it’ll help you get really specific about how you use your energy, in building relationships with casting directors *anywhere* in the world.

Good luck, “North!” Keep me posted on how it goes for you!

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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