I’m casting a film right now for which I need someone 18 to play younger. Much younger. I need actors who look about 15 (and that’s an innocent, small-town 15 — not “Hollywood 15” by any stretch of the imagination).

I have no problem seeing actors who I know for a fact are quite a bit older than that, if they can pull off the look and emotional maturity level of a 15-year-old. Here’s where I do have a problem.

Agents, managers, actors themselves are sending me submissions for this role that only serve to talk me out of bringing the actors in to meet the director. How do they do that? By sending too much.

For example, one actor submitted electronically for the role looks perfect for it. That’s an innocent 15-year-old for sure! I click on the actor’s profile to check height and weight, make sure the actor is 18 to play younger rather than actually still a minor, and then I click on the additional photos contained in the actor’s profile. Uh-oh. In an attempt to look as versatile as possible, this actor has included five different headshots. And in each one other than the primary one chosen for the submission, this actor is clearly well over 23. Oh, that won’t do.

See, while you think you’re proving range by having lots of different looks, what you may be doing is talking me out of believing that any of those looks is truly representative of you today. I begin to wonder if perhaps the one look I’m crazy about for this project is one from a years-ago photo shoot. If I have a very tight schedule for audition appointments (and these are straight-to-director-meeting appointments rather than prescreens or prereads), how can I take a risk on setting an appointment with someone I’ve never met who has one perfect look for this project and another four looks that talk me out of how I felt about that first one? I’m staking my reputation with the director who has hired me for this film every time someone walks into the room for a meeting with him. Known commodities are always going to win out, when it comes to scheduling appointments, mainly because I need to be sure I know what I’ve signed the director up for. Since there is so little room for error here, I have to be a little cautious about scheduling my “unknown commodity” slots.

So, what do you do? You are that versatile. You do look both 15 and 23. You have that great a range and your photos are all from the same shoot. Do you only market yourself one way?

Sometimes, yes.

If you’re constantly going out for 23 even though you can play 15, perhaps you’re better off marketing yourself as 23 and letting go of the “but I also look 15” headshot in the bunch. Sure, have that headshot in case you ever need it, but don’t include it when you are submitting to casting directors. Agents and managers love to see your range (how many different ways they can pitch you). Casting directors, on the other hand, only want to see you as perfect for that one role at that particular moment. Too much information can cloud a CD’s view of you and get you put in the “no” stack, in favor of an actor who has provided exactly ONE headshot: the one that sells that actor in this role.

Sure, you can send your full range of looks to a casting director when doing a general submission. But when you are submitting on one particular role, think of your submission as an ad for ONE item, rather than a whole line of products. Yes, I know… you are more than a product. You are an artist. But even art ends up being marketed at some level and you have to know your target audience, if you’re going to influence the market.


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/000130.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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