I have been reading your column for some time now and I also am also a MySpace friend, however I never took the time to write to you and let you know how much I enjoy your work and I frequently pass on your message to others.
Since you are a casting director I thought I might ask you this question… here goes. The only reason I am asking is because every time I think about this I ask myself… “What happened?”
I do not have representation and the work that I have gotten is either through self-submission or an “upgrade” on set. A couple of weeks ago, to my surprise, I received a call from the Executive Director of Casting at ABC NY to come and read for two roles in an upcoming pilot. Wow! Yippee! Hurray! I had the sides emailed to me and went in the next afternoon to read. I showed up nice and early got myself relaxed then signed in ten minutes before my call time. I was the third person to go in and read.
I went into the room ready to go. Scene one goes very well. The casting director’s feedback: “Loved it, loved it, loved it. Very authentic. Great job. Nothing more I can say!” WOW! YIPPEE! HURRAY!
Scene two goes the same. The CD gives me some direction and I do it again. The casting director’s feedback: “Great job. Excellent. Just what I wanted.”
I then thank the CD and the reader and walk out of the room feeling pretty good about what just happened.
Well, you know what comes next (or I wouldn’t be writing to you): NOTHING! I don’t hear a thing. No call back. NOTHING!
I know the standard answer: “They went another way.” But I haven’t had that many auditions to be fluent in “CD speak” so I thought by the casting director’s reaction to my audition, a callback was the least I could get, then have them “go another way.”
So, from a casting director’s perspective: What happened?
Thank you for your time and all you do for me and my fellow actors.
First, big thanks for the feedback. I’m glad the columns have been useful to you as you pursue your career in acting. Next, congrats on getting so much cool stuff just from self-submissions and being a pro on set in every circumstance. That’s awesome! And people will remember you and reward your good work whenever they can. Believe that! (Heck, you’ve already experienced that!)
Now, as for the question: What happened? Well, what can I say that hasn’t already been said in many previous columns (and that’s already in your question itself)? They did, in fact, go another way. That’s all it is, for sure. Let me rephrase that. The only thing we know, absolutely, 100% for certain is that they did indeed go another way.
As for the why? Well, you can drive yourself NUTS as an actor if you try and get inside the minds and hearts of the many, many people involved in every casting decision on every project for which you audition.
Absolutely, if the casting director you read for were the one and only decision-maker in the casting process, you could expect at least a callback based on the verbal feedback you got in the room during your preread (heck, or NOT. Have you ever been on a date that wasn’t going all that well and said, “This was fun. We should do it again sometime,” when you know full well you’ll never call again? Same thing. Sometimes we say nice things when we don’t mean ’em. That’s life).
The point is, any number of things could’ve happened — most of which have absolutely nothing to do with you or your work — that cost you that booking. To spend ANY of your energy trying to figure it all out is a crazymaking, inefficient use of your time and creativity. Cultivate a way to do your best and then move on. Instantly. It’s the only way your sanity can endure this crazy business.
Want to waste your time and energy anyway? Okay. Let’s make a list of the potential reasons they didn’t cast you.
- ten other, more talented, more amazing actors came in after you read, leaving you lower on the list than you were at the time of your audition, thereby bumping you from the shortlist
- the producers didn’t like your accent
- the director didn’t like your nose
- the casting director’s taste is so completely out of line for this project that she was fired the next day
- they decided to go ethnic with this role
- they decided to go female with this role
- they decided to go octogenarian with this role
- they decided to go teen with this role
- they decided to cast the producer’s boyfriend in this role and now all extra money in the budget is going to his acting classes to get him ready for his moment in the spotlight
- you look too much like another actor they’ve already cast and they don’t want the audience to be confused
- the name actor at the top of their wish list for this role has decided to do it and there will now be no callbacks for this role
- the star of the project will only do it if this minor role goes to his best buddy
- the project has been cancelled due to budget issues
- production has been pushed six months due to the loss of a key location
- one of the producers is suing his former partner and this project is the roadkill of that separation
- you look like the director’s ex and the director hates that person
- while you were auditioning, the writers turned in a new draft of the script and this role no longer even exists
- you were so great that they don’t want to waste you on this small role and are saving you to come in for a larger one
- you actually sucked and when you left they made fun of you for believing all of the praise they lavished upon you in the room… they’re still talking about you (and laughing) today
This is not a complete list. You could work on a list like this for days and keep coming up with (ever more humiliating) possibilities. Ask your friends for ideas! It’s seriously an endless (and useless) hobby, making a list like this. Can you control any of the things that end up on that list of potential reasons you didn’t get a callback? Nope. If you sucked, sure, you can “fix” that by being better next time, by working in class, by building your craft and all that jazz. But you should be doing that anyway — improving daily as an artist — so this ridiculous list-making process shouldn’t feed that need.
Point is, you can’t possibly know why you didn’t get a callback. Sometimes WE don’t even know why you didn’t get a callback. Every office is different. Every project is different. Some filmmakers want to be in on prereads with me. Others don’t even want to hear from me until we’re down to final callbacks. So, on some projects, I decide who makes it to the top five. On others, I may get a vote on one of those slots. Does that change the amount of fawning over an actor whose work I like I will do during a session? Heck no! If I like your work, I’m going to say so! If I think you’re awesome, I’ll tell you! And the way you know for certain that I’m a fan of your work — regardless of what I say in the room — is that I’ll sure enough call you in again and again, project to project, year after year.
But here’s a caveat on that point as well: I’m only going to call you in when I know you’re right for it. I’m not going to waste your time and mine calling you in on projects I know you’re not well-matched for just because I dig you and love your work and think it’s fun to see you. Now, I have called in actors who I know the director would LOVE to meet, even when the director has told me it’s not a right fit for the role, because we’re seeing actors and here’s a chance for me to make my point about the actor being awesome for future projects — but when I do that, I’m usually very up front about that being what’s happening, so no one gets too keyed up over any particular role.
But if you see every single audition as a chance to perform for people who love watching people perform AND as a preread for your NEXT audition, then you don’t ever see that sort of thing as a waste of time. Nor do you try and micromanage what goes on behind closed doors after the session day is over. Instead, you just relish the opportunity to come in and show us what you’ve got, thank us, and move on.
Obviously, you can choose to wonder “what happened” every time you don’t hear back, but since you’re going to not hear back a heck of a lot more often than you ever DO hear back, in this line of work, I highly recommend that you find a way to chalk it up to one of the great mysteries of life. Just like that lovely person who swears up and down that was “the best date ever” and can’t understand why there wasn’t a second date. Leave it alone. Let it go. Move on. And keep dating. 😉 There’s plenty of fish in the sea!
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Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000880.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.