A multi part series for the not-so-established actor, hoping to improve their career.
Even in the age of online casting, commercial casting offices still spend a substantial amount of time on the phone. Nothing beats human to human interaction between agents and casting. Some of these relationships have been fostered for years. Sometimes a phone call is quicker, or the chance of getting a favorable response is better over the phone. Bottom line: the phone rings a lot in a commercial casting office.
With this in mind, a disturbing trend has been in the making over the past several months. Actors have increasingly been calling casting offices direct, instead of going through their agents. So let me be clear…
COMMERCIAL ACTORS SHOULD NEVER CALL A CASTING OFFICE.
Ok, never say never, so let's get the exceptions out of the way now. When someone from a casting office has asked you, the actor, for a call or a call back, do it! If you have submitted yourself on a job and you are asked to confirm, go ahead! Call if you are asked to. Don't if you aren't.
Here are some examples of when NOT to call a casting office:
*To get directions
*Asking for a time change, time frame
*Canceling your audition
*To get the address (physical or email) of where to send a photo/resume
These are real examples of the phone calls that are currently coming into commercial casting offices, directly from actors. For those of you who know it is taboo to call yourself, let me assure you, nothing has changed. For those of you who might have made one of these phone calls recently, don't panic. Just don't do it again.
What should you do? Call your agent. They will call the casting office on your behalf and let them know you are running late, ask for a time change or cancel your audition. Your agent will give you directions to the office, or tell you to MapQuest it on your own. There is no need to be sending hard copies of your headshot and resume to a commercial casting office. You should know by now, it gets thrown into the garbage. Don't have an agent, and have been given an appointment by a casting director from a self-submission? Read/listen carefully to their instructions. They will let you know if it is ok to call the office, or if not, what the preferred method of communication is.
My hunch is, there are several reasons actors are calling casting offices themselves:
*Actors don't want to bother their agents with a stupid question (i.e., how to get to the casting facility). If you feel like you shouldn't be asking your agent, you certainly shouldn't be asking the casting office. Look it up on the internet, ask your friends, problem-solve on your own.
*Actors don't want their agents to find out that they can't make their audition, or would prefer a different time. If you don't want to annoy your agent with these things, it's just as big of a bummer for casting…and only more so if you call yourself.
We all live in LA. Traffic is tough. Sometimes you will run late. Call your agent, they will understand.
You have a life. Sometimes you will have a need to request a different time. Call your agent, they will ask on your behalf. These situations should come up relatively rarely. If so, your agent will completely understand. If it happens too often, you may want to reevaluate your priorities. Don't call casting directly to preserve your reputation with your agent. You may end up ruining it with casting, instead.
*Actors want to develop a relationship with casting. That will happen…usually over a period of time being called in by a casting director. Calling the office isn't the way to do it. Being a lovely, prepared actor, is.
Remember, just because the phone number of a casting director can be easily found on the internet or through 411, doesn't mean it is an open invitation to call the office. Nothing has changed on the etiquette front…you know, or you do now. Let your agent put in the phone calls to the commercial casting office.