The Secret Language of Casting Directors

Today I’m gonna do a little demystifying of “the secret language of casting directors.” (If you missed where this convo started with talent manager Anna Lewkowska last year, catch up with a click here.)

One of the more crazymaking things I see actors do is obsess over how casting directors manage their inboxes (whether at social media sites or in “real” email places). I’ve had clients talk about how they put trackers on their emails and notice how many times casting directors open the messages (if ever) and of course, they’ve got the WHY all figured out so it leads to this really un-sexy spiral of self-doubt.

Here’s where it all starts: You meet the casting director and she says, “Sure! Email me. Keep me posted on what’s going on with your career!” and you’ve decided you now have been granted pen pal status or you’ve received a ring and some commitment ceremony (in the form of being cast soon) is on its way.

Nope.

Here’s what it almost always ACTUALLY means: “Sure! Email me. Email is easily ignorable and filterable and I can get out of this encounter we’re having right now with you feeling really spectacular that I’ve given you access that I can later reroute to my whim. Should I be truly interested in what’s going on with your career, I can fish out an email and fire back a quick bit of encouragement and I can easily search my inbox for your info should a casting need come up, but we’re not BFFs and I’m probably not going to see most of what you send me.”

It’s why I’ve always said you should treat what you send out electronically exactly the way you treat what you send out in the form of a postcard: Send it. Dismount. ZERO tracking or wondering if the piece of cardstock with your face on it made it to their desk or had an impact. You handed it over to the postal service. You’re done. Live your life.

But because of these little “conveniences” that allow you to track emails (and due to some ridiculously misguided advice by someone out there who actually thinks actors need MORE shit to obsess about when it comes to how they’re perceived by their buyers), you invest energy into whether something has been opened, how many times it’s been opened, and what it all means.

Nothing. It means nothing. Send. Dismount. Live your life.

When actors have asked whether they can stay in touch with me, I’m most likely to say, “Shoot me a tweet!” Because I see those. I reply to a lot of them. They’re low-impact in terms of the load they have on my online life and they get the job done (the job, by the way, is you reminding me you exist, that this is your brand should I ever need it in my casting, this is how to reach you, and this is what you’ve been up to that helps inform my overall understanding of your tier and your trajectory). Ooh, that’s a lot of good stuff from 140 characters (I refuse to acknowledge Twitter has invited us to long-tweet).

Please know — especially if you’re hoping buyers are going to show up to your every screening or play opening — that there’s simply no way to hit all the things that all the actors have going on in the world. If we’ve been at this for a minute, we already have many thousands of actors in our world and we will certainly get out there and hit stuff now and then (which is why targeting is so important — if your number-one target buyer loves to see shows at a particular venue, your getting into one of those shows manages to do you a big favor in that department), but you need to decide your invitation to things is more of a bit of “Hey! I’m still here; I’m still working!” than anything else.

You want to send a copy of your latest project’s DVD to a casting office. Nope. We don’t want it. Look, we’re excited for you! We love that you are working. But save those DVD copies you bought for people who still own DVD players (your parents) and just promote that you’ve booked and you’re excited about it. We’ll be happy for you. We probably won’t *reply* to your email asking for an address to send the DVD because there are approximately 4032 fires to put out when we’re actively casting and another 1172 to put out when we’re experiencing downtime between projects and your email ranks somewhere incredibly low on the “fires to put out” list.

Not because we don’t adore you. Not because we lied to you when we said, “Sure! Email me.” But because we’re building our businesses just like you are and we could seriously have a full-time job answering actor email if we were to try and turn that into a job (and OMG what a mind-numbing, thankless, do-not-put-this-in-the-family-holiday-newsletter-as-what-I’m-up-to kind of job that would be).

So, add to your casting director vocab — right there between the fact that “Do you have any questions?” is code for “We’re done with the pre-audition chitchat; now you act,” and that “That was great! Thanks,” is code for “Get out!” that “Sure! Email me,” means you’re given the greenlight for sharing what’s going on in your career and you should treat any electronic communication of this nature just like you would a promotional postcard.

Send. Dismount. Live your life.

That’s what I’m gonna do after hitting SEND on this little puppy. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But first I’m gonna tell you that we’ve opened registration for next week’s FIRST EVER interactive intensive, SMFA Online! This one-day deep-dive of the Self-Management for Actors principles takes place on February 1st (and everything is recorded so you have access to the replays if you have to miss even a second of the live badassery), and you also retain access to our private workout space for continued support through the four pillars of SMFA for a full week after our live jam sesh!

If you’ll be joining us on this new venture (which you can do right here — and I’ll get you into our private Facebook group right away for some pre-class homework if you’re game), you’ll leave the experience with a better sense of your type and brand, a strategy for marketing to your target buyers, a plan for creating content that showcases who you are as a storyteller, and of course you’ll have refined your pitch so you never dread hearing, “So, tell me about yourself…” ever again! Not bad for under a hundy, huh? Spaces are limited, so jump on in.

And of course, if you have any questions, comments are open right below! Or, y’know… sure! Email me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

All my ninja love,


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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6 Comments

  1. Jaye January 26, 2018 at 1:46 am

    Wish I could do the deep dive with ya! Still in process on “unfixing” my income!โค
    And I’m doing the Abraham-Hicks Prosperity Gsme! Woot!

    Reply
  2. Joe J Thomas January 26, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Spot on, Bonnie!

    You could drive yourself crazy focusing on every audition, every contact, every bulk-mail program and marketing scheme that promises “Superior ROI!” (without really understanding ROI or marketing, that is)

    It’s why I don’t want metrics on how many times my demo has been played, or how many hits on my blog or videos. I’ve seen many people spin their wheels measuring every aspect of their career, when they could much better spend their time focusing on the career itself. Hone your skills, make some real connections with real people… in person! Then when you’re done with the audition, thank them, and… exit, stage left ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Hope you have a great weekend ahead,
    Joe

    Reply
  3. Erin Zapcic January 26, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    Hope you’re loving the Prosperity Game, Jaye! My GIGFTNT mentor Laura Daniel and I had a blast with that one. (As an added bonus, it resulted in some actual dollars coming my way — not just vibrational ones!)

    Rock ON, Joe!

    Reply
  4. Rey Borge February 13, 2018 at 9:48 am

    Thx always on spot. What about when the CD says โ€œperfectโ€ or โ€œthatโ€™s how itโ€™s done, you canโ€™t do any better than thatโ€ and you donโ€™t get booked?

    Reply
    1. Bonnie Gillespie Bonnie Gillespie February 13, 2018 at 9:54 am

      Exactly! It means they have no changes, need to see nothing more from you, and then it wasn’t your role. Because it’s not like a TEST, where everyone who scores 100% gets the job! ๐Ÿ™‚ You may have very well been THE ONE at that moment and then someone else came in and changed their minds. Could’ve been that when they showed your audition footage to someone else on the team, you looked like their ex. Could’ve been that in another casting room they were busy casting another role and cast someone who looks just like you in THAT role and it would be confusing to have you in place now. Who knows!

      What it means is they got everything they needed from you at that moment, had no changes for you, good job. ๐Ÿ™‚ So, yay! This is why we focus on booking the ROOM rather than booking the JOB. That’s what’s important!

      Reply

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