Before I get going on this topic (yes, this will be rant-filled), let me just state for the record that I know there are casting directors out there who release breakdowns with important details missing. I don’t judge actors for submitting inappropriately (or even agents and managers for submitting their clients inappropriately) when information isn’t disclosed up front. That said, there are many, many, many actors out there submitting (or being submitted) on projects they have no intention of being a part of. This rant is for you: if you want to be asked in on future projects, stop submitting on the ones you don’t want to do. “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” comes to mind here.

Don’t submit when…

You will be unavailable during the project’s shoot dates. Okay, sure. Schedules change. Production gets pushed back. But if you see in the breakdown that the project shoots while you’re going to be on vacation, don’t submit. Oh, and if you do submit, please, please, please disclose BEFORE we fall in love with you and invite you to callbacks that you will be out of town during the shoot dates. Grr. If you’re going out of town and you have an agent or manager, by all means, book out. Let people know that you’re unavailable before it becomes an issue. Communicate. It’s that simple.

You object to the material. Casting directors are required to flag projects containing nudity. I’ve never cast a film with nudity, but I have cast films with rather adult language. Because I know that actors have various levels of comfort with such material, especially for the younger ones, I always disclose the nature of the material up front. I also always provide the entire script when the breakdown goes out. Actors can read every page of the material before submitting, yet I sometimes get audition cancellations with, “Sorry. Passing due to content,” messages. Dangit! Pass BEFORE submitting! Not after I’ve whittled down thousands of submissions to the dozen or so who will audition for the role. Your last-minute back-out based on info you could’ve seen prior to submitting does not make me your fan.

You’re taking a break from acting. Now, to be fair, this one is usually an agent or manager submission. I’ll schedule an actor for an audition based on a pitch and submission, then get an electronic notification that the actor is, “Unavailable due to taking time off from acting.” Of course, agents and managers rep lots of actors and can’t possibly know when any of them are going to take time off, but just the same, it’s extra (and unnecessary) work for me and that gets me grumpy. (Can you tell?)

You won’t accept the role, if offered. This one is truly baffling! I have seen actors submit on roles, audition for roles, get callbacks for roles, and THEN, when offered the roles, they tell me, “Oh, I’m going to pass. It’s not a large enough role,” or, “I’ve decided to only do gigs that pay a minimum of SAG Low Budget Scale, not Limited Exhibition Scale,” or, “I don’t need tape of myself in another role of this type. I need to show more comedic range.” Are you kidding me? This gets me angry on behalf of all of the other actors who could’ve had your audition appointment. This one isn’t about the extra work it causes me (which, of course, is a pain) as much as it is about the people we could’ve seen who would’ve loved to be a part of the project. Only, we couldn’t see them because we were busy falling in love with you for the role. A role you wouldn’t take based on info you had BEFORE YOU SUBMITTED. Ugh. Crazy!

You don’t meet the basic criteria. I’ve put out breakdowns that require certain union affiliation, age, height, etc., but always receive submissions from folks who don’t meet them. I understand the enthusiasm with which actors submit (especially when the same actor submits on every role), but you have to believe that, if casting has listed a very specific requirement, there is a reason for it.

Okay, now that I’ve listed my guidelines for when not to submit, let me say that (as with all things in this business) there are really no rules. You can do everything wrong and still book the gig. There are producers who will negotiate around things like script content, shoot dates, specific requirements for the role, rates of pay, and just about anything else for the right actor. And y’know, maybe that’s why actors submit even when there are reasons they shouldn’t. Maybe that’s why agents and managers pitch actors they know aren’t right for projects for any number of reasons.

We sometimes DO go another way. Production dates do get pushed. Funding comes in from new sources when a name is signed on for another role in the project. Rewrites do occur. So, I guess this week’s column is mostly a rant, a reminder of good submission etiquette, and also a lesson for me. Just as I advise actors to let go of the roles they don’t get, I need to let go of the actors I can’t cast. Fair enough. We’ll all work on it from here.

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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