I know that a performance video is essential for the working actor, but when decent footage is scarce, are Actor Slates the next best thing? As a casting director, do you find you pay more attention to actors that include performance videos and Actor Slates in their electronic submissions? Does this hold any weight in your decision-making process?

If I’m not familiar with an actor’s work, a performance video or Actor Slate or any raw footage of the actor acting can indeed make a difference, when I’m deciding who will get an audition appointment. When I first started casting, I was building my files with actors of various types, ages, and levels of experience (whether I’d seen their work or not). Now I can keep files of just those actors whose work I know and have pretty much every type, age, and level of experience covered.

That means, when I’m receiving an electronic submission from an actor on a specific breakdown, I immediately develop two lists: submitted actors whose work I know and submitted actors whose work I do not know. If you include a performance video, demo reel, Actor Slate, or link to any footage of you doing your thing, I can include you in the, “I know that actor’s work,” list, whether we’ve met or not.

Of course, an Actor Slate is much more like a general (get to know you, meet and greet) than a performance of scripted material, but I like getting to know actors as people (not just as performers), so I’ve found I’m able to get a pretty good “feel” for someone’s style and abilities through that improvised interview. Obviously, the best work to put out there is a fully-produced, edited demo reel of the best (and highest-profile) work you’ve done, but until you have more than a scene or two in better-than-average student films, the Actor Slate is a pretty good deal. We have tools on the casting end of the Breakdown Services interface that allow us to look at actors within the system who have video in their profiles. So, even without knowing your work is “out there,” we can scout from our desks. Very efficient, when I need to quickly get to know someone’s vibe and can’t arrange to meet in person, see a show, or even do prereads. For example, this film I’m finishing up this week had 38 speaking roles. I was able to cast 15 of those roles (the dayplayers) without auditions. I just went to my files and selected people whose work I know. For one of the roles, I didn’t have an actor in my files of the right “type.” So, I used the Actor Search function at Breakdown Services, watched some demos and slates, and made contact either through reps or Actors Access.

So, do I pay more attention to actors with video in their submissions? Only if I need to know their work (or if they’ve done a lot of work since I last saw their work) before taking the next step in my casting process. Sometimes actors will get in on a look, on a pitch, or on particular credits. Video is just another tool among many, to help people know how to cast 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 http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000243.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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