I keep hearing a lot about submission services (those groups that submit you on projects in the breakdowns that you’re right for) and I want to know if I should do it. I don’t have an agent and I left my manager last month. I have a day job, so I don’t have a lot of time to scour the trades looking for acting jobs. The fee seems reasonable. Do casting people look at packages from these services?

Honestly, it’s hard to tell the difference between submissions from “marketing services,” “submission services,” and groups of actors banding together and self-submitting en masse lately. When I was an actor, a group of us got together each week and did submissions using Back Stage West. We made an event out of it: one would bring stamps, one would bring envelopes, one would bring Post-It Notes, one would bring the copy of Back Stage West and the wine. We’d each bring our headshots and resumés and would then assembly-line the process, making a party out of it. This was a fun, weekly event to get our headshots “out there” and, at the level of the breakdowns listed in Back Stage West, it worked just fine.

I’m assuming, however, that you’re talking about services that submit actors to television series, feature films, commercials, and other paying gigs in the big leagues of casting. Since becoming a casting director, I’ve seen quite a few packages arrive from these “submission services” for which I know actors pay membership fees. No cover letter (or a very generic: “To whom it may concern,” letter with character names written in); dozens of headshots and resumés of actors ranging from those with NO credits to those with decent credits who, like you, may have had representation but want to do a little something extra; and no hand-delivery (usually, these packages arrive in the snail mail along with everyone else’s vs. messenger delivery like the hard copies that arrive within hours of the breakdown from agents and managers).

There’s very little that sets these packages apart from actor-self-submissions other than the fact that they come in large bundles. The range of skill level, experience level, and accuracy in submission (meeting the terms of the breakdown) is so very wide that it makes it hard for me to recommend such a service. While you may be getting your headshot inside an office that it otherwise wouldn’t reach, by using these services, you may be doing so from within a package that has a generally-newbie feel to it. Wouldn’t you rather get in looking ready to play at the level you’re submitting as opposed to being seen among people you’d never meet at an audition?

Before shelling out bucks to have your headshot be a part of such a bundle, ask to see a package before it goes out. Is it professional? Does it look really great? Is there attention to detail in presentation and in accuracy of submissions? If all of those answers come back YES, then membership in a “submission service” company roster may be a good investment for someone with a schedule too busy to self-submit. But if you’re signing up to PAY to have your headshot be one of DOZENS submitted simply because the role in question matches your GENDER and there is no more thought put into the process than that, maybe you’d prefer to be seen in a more professional light. Remember that this package will be competing with those coming from agencies with a staff of employees who ensure the submissions are accurate, well-presented, and delivered quickly. Make sure what you’re looking to spend money on measures up. If it doesn’t, invest elsewhere.

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/000255.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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