It’s that time again… time to answer a handful of the many short-answer questions that come to my inbox. Enjoy!

I took your advice and I am keeping track of what films are currently in the works according to the trades. Should I target specifically the ones that are “in pre-production?” Is “in development” too early to send a submission? When typically is the casting director filling most of the roles? Should I even attempt to send postcards to films in the “in production” stage?

Definitely target the films listed as “in preparation,” “in development,” and “in pre-production.” As soon as you see a casting director associated with a project in any of those categories, use your resources to find a current mailing address and get a submission over there! Once a film is listed in the trades as “in production,” you are much less likely to get seen. In fact, the only real shot you’d have in that case is if there is some recasting or rewriting going on.

Do you prefer to receive clear headshot envelopes?

No. But I don’t dislike them either. When I am casting a specific role and receiving submissions by the crate, I tend to open everything. Of course, if a headshot arrives in a clear envelope and the actor is not the right type for that particular role, I won’t even open the envelope, as I can simply put it aside until I am finished casting and then, eventually, I will open the envelope and decide whether I’m keeping that actor’s headshot in my files for future use. If a headshot in a clear envelope is of the right type for that particular breakdown, I will open the envelope right then. But I’m opening all of the other envelopes that arrive while I’m casting that project anyway, so the extra expense for a clear envelope isn’t necessary for my tastes.

I am a nonunion actor starting to get work in Philadelphia and New York. How can I protect myself if my agent doesn’t give me a copy of contracts for bookings (with the name of the project and production company with the agreed-upon amount to be paid)? Is it proper to ask for one?

You absolutely should feel comfortable having any frank conversation with your agent, including asking for a copy of the contracts he is negotiating on your behalf. Remember, an agent is acting as exactly that: your agent. And that means you are the employer in that relationship. You have retained an agent’s services and have every right to ask to see your contracts, if they exist. The thing is, with non-union gigs, often there are no contracts, so you do have to have a great deal of faith overall. As for the production company name, if you don’t know what it is before you get on the set, ask the AD while you’re there! Better yet, get the business card of someone involved with the production and stay in touch to find out “what ever happened” to that spec spot in the future.

About keeping myself on casting directors’ radar, do I do postcards every few months, every few weeks, or does something that often bother you? If I haven’t booked anything in the last few months and haven’t gotten a new agent, what in the world goes on my postcard?

A postcard is great when you have news to share. It’s also simply a way to keep yourself on a casting director’s map. Certainly, you can’t know whether your postcard may cross a CD’s desk at that “perfect moment” when she has an immediate need for your type. So, much of “postcarding” is about that intersection of timing and type. Since I keep a postcard file, I see no reason to send non-news oriented postcards beyond that first, “Hi! Here’s me. Here’s where to find me,” postcard. But every CD is different, so do your research and postcard accordingly.

What’s your stance on Performance Videos and Actor Slates? Do you have time to view them? Are they more apt to influence your decision to see an actor for an audition?

I’ve received progressively more Actor Slates with submissions for each film I’ve cast, it seems. At first, there were only a handful of actors who included video submissions with their electronic headshot and resumé submissions. Last week, about a third of all submissions I received for the film I’m currently casting included Actor Slates or Performance Videos. I do watch them. I enjoy “getting to know” the actor a little bit prior to bringing him or her in for an audition. If an actor is “new” to me, any interaction I get (even if it’s in the form of a demo reel) is a glimpse into what the actor may bring into the room. That reduces the gamble on “new” talent for me. So, whether I’m “prescreening” an actor at a play, a showcase, or my computer screen, it’s all part of my homework as a casting director.

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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