Okay, so I’m gearing up for casting three feature films within the next couple of months and that means it’s time to knock the dust off the old headshot files! Usually, after each project I cast, I do some headshot sorting and tossing. But this past year, I’ve been so busy that I’ve been (*gasp*) tucking the headshots from sessions on each project away into a box, awaiting my intern’s next visit. Eep! My rockstar intern is no longer my rockstar intern. She’s now a rockstar working actor with no time for my files. Enter: awesome intern. (Didn’t feel right to call anyone but Julie my rockstar intern, since she really did earn that title during the creation of the system I detailed in “Headshots I Keep (Revisited)” a couple of years ago.)

So, awesome intern started coming in this past week and we began The Great Headshot Purge of 2008. The real heavy lifting will come in the next few weeks, as things quiet down in town and we deal with the existing files (not just the “new this year” stuff). A couple of weeks ago, I attempted to hand a business card to a colleague and was told, “No thanks. I’m off paper.” I loved that! He pulled out his cell phone, added my contact info there, and then shot me an email with his info for my files. Brilliant. No paper. No clutter.

I’d really like to have a paperless casting office, but I just don’t see that happening. The hard copy headshots of the actors I have cast will be forever in The Permanent Collection of Headshots. Producers often want to flip through these, so they’re here to stay. But I’m starting to wonder if it’s time to pull back even farther than I described doing in Headshots I Keep (Revisited). Obviously, I’ve cut down on a lot of my files since the original Headshots I Keep piece, but it’s time to do it all again: reboot my organizational system.

So, the files currently include Actors I’ve Cast, Actors I Hope To Cast Someday, and Actors Whose Work I Know. In the next few weeks, the categories will be Actors I’ve Cast and Actors I Hope To Cast Someday. Yup, the “Actors Whose Work I Know” category is going away. Believe me, this is harder for me to do than it is for you to hear! But it must be done. So The Great Headshot Purge involves looking at every single headshot in the Actors Whose Work I Know category, considering whether that particular actor is someone I want to cast someday, and if that actor isn’t someone I absolutely believe will be awesome in some future project I cast (even though I currently have no idea what future projects may exist for me years from now), the headshot is out.

Ack! Why am I doing this? Well, space remains at a premium, for one. And, two, as I approach having been in casting for six years, I really have just too dang many headshots. More actors in my file than I will ever be able to cast in a lifetime of casting! Now, I’ve already stopped (a couple of years ago) keeping the headshots of actors whose work I do not know. But ’til now, I was keeping the headshots of every actor who auditioned for me, performed a cold read at a workshop in front of me, or did a showcase performance I attended. Good or bad. Talented or not. Pro-level or super-new.

I used to say it was important to hang onto the headshots of actors whose work I knew because I wanted to be sure I could consult my notes the next time the actor got in front of me. But if I auditioned you for the first feature film I cast (in 2003) and wrote, “Needs training,” on your resumé, and you submit on one of the films I’ll be casting in 2009, shouldn’t I assume you’ve been training in those six years since I’ve seen you? And if you don’t submit, maybe I could assume you’ve left the business. Or moved into another profession within the industry. Or went to the other coast to do Broadway. Or moved past the low-budget indie film level. Or any other number of reasons that I won’t be seeing you any time soon.

My point is, assuming you are still in this thing and absolutely do submit on something I’m casting in 2009, I have to consider your submission NOW, not the you I met six years earlier. Or at least I should consider you as you now are. Evaluate you now, not solely decide you get an audition slot today based on my notes about you from years ago. And if you don’t submit NOW, I have to assume you’re no longer someone to whom I’d have access even if I wanted to (and, based on my years-ago notes, we’re talking about actors I’m not super excited about, here).

So, the purge! Awesome intern was commenting on how many black-and-white headshots we’ll be getting rid of, as we do this. And I noticed how many more of the Actors I’ve Cast are printouts of photos from electronic submissions, rather than submitted hard copy headshots! Because, as the budgets get bigger, the offers get made to more “namey” actors than before, and since submissions and pitches are electronic or via phone rather than via couriered hard copy headshot packages, the composition of the more current files is changing.

Not sure how interesting any of this is to actors hoping to get into any casting director’s headshot files, but my point in sharing it — as always — is to hopefully demystify a bit about how casting offices store headshots and the likelihood that any general submission (mailed headshot, not for a specific role in a specific project) will make it into any long-term file, if the CD is not familiar with the actor’s work already. Am I discouraging submissions? Heck no! But I am suggesting that they are less about creating any action on the part of the recipient and far more of a way to just keep reminding your audience (casting directors) that you’re still here, working, hustling, building your resumé, having fun! And honestly, postcards accomplish that goal just as well. Hey, so do Facebook status updates! I’ve been really enjoying seeing actors post “I booked a co-star on Cold Case” in the three months since I finally broke down and joined Facebook. I’m reminded that the actor exists, that she’s out there working, and that she’s good about promoting her business to her potential buyers!

Hey, maybe we’re on our way to a paperless office here after all. Well… no. That’s never gonna happen 100% here. But I like the fact that every couple of years, I’m keeping less and less of it. How about you? Are you enjoying going through fewer physical headshots per year than you used to? Are you using technology to help you promote your acting gigs differently? More on that in an upcoming piece. As always, I look forward to hearing what’s happening from your POV.


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/000962.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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