** This post was originally published in December 2019 but has been completely updated for January 2021
Audition: as actors we often wait, hope and pray for them. Auditions are our lifeblood. They mean getting in front of a casting director, which means getting a shot at a job, which means a little more cash in the bank account and sometimes a badly needed pat on the back and confirmation that we are on the right track and this isn’t all a pipe dream.
But acting is a business, and waiting and hoping seldom produce results in any business. McDonald’s has been around for half a century and is arguably one of the most successful companies in the world, but we’re all hoping to book one of their commercials. Yes, they still advertise. And as far as praying goes? My word of advice, is to pray with your feet! Ask God / The Universe / The Divine for a blessing but don’t ask for your work to be done for you.
So what does that leave? You guessed it, good old fashioned direct pitching, connecting, relationships and marketing.
2021 UPDATE: Getting in front of casting directors changed a lot in 2020; any audition that were happening became 99% virtual. Casting directors are no longer in the office to receive snail mail or drop-offs and many have gotten rid of office space all together. I’m including some of the “older methods” of connecting below, but have made revision to reflect a more current climate.
1. Get Social
Please don’t groan, I know you that probably hate it, but it works! And social media is here to stay. 2020 saw casting directors take to social media in record numbers. The are all human being, have spent their lives working in the arts and surrounded by people. They have had entire careers running between crazy deadlines and working with actors on an almost daily basis…. and that suddenly ground to a halt. Like the rest of us, they needed an outlet and still crave the human connection.
Instagram seems to be the fav platform, with many casting directors doing lives, running contests, posting videos and directly viewing actors works and being in contact with them. If you’re not on Instagram and actively following and connecting with casting directors, you are missing out.
Twitter is the close second, although I find it often has a political slant. Still, casting directors love to share updates when something they cast hits the screen, wins an award or another big milestone. I find that many also post casting notices when they have a very specific or hard to cast role. Following casting directors is a great way to keep on top if their career and even find out about workshops and classes.
Facebook is in the last place, but still very useful. Many casting directors keep their Facebook profiles for friends and family only, but there are still a number who are open to connecting this way. On Facebook, jump into groups – there are a ton of agents, managers and casting directors on there. Read this article for 16 Best Facebook Groups for Actors to Connect, Meet Reps and Find Work .
Yes, I have personally booked meetings, auditions and work from my social media connections. DO: follow, engage and be a genuinely interested and interesting person. DON’T: be a creepy stalker begging for work or asking for a free career consult or someone to review your materials….. unless it’s specifically offered.
2. Self Submit
Gone are the days when you can sit around waiting for your agents or manager to do everything for you…. if you are repped. In LA, we as actors are constantly reminded that “we get 90% of the money so we should be doing 90% of the work.” Ultimately, this is still your business, your career and your life. Jump on some of the online casting sites and submit on whatever you feel you are truly right for and is either going to pay you well, give you great exposure or decent footage. The three biggest online casting networks for the U.S. and Australia are Actor’s Access, Casting Networks / LA Casting and Casting Frontier. The big sites in other locations are as follows: Canada – Casting Workbook, U.K. – Spotlight, Europe – e-Talenta.
If you’re just starting out and your career isn’t at the place to have an account on a major casting site just yet, consider checking out some of the free casting sites that are geared towards specialty and non-union work. You can find a list of those here: 11 FREE Audition Sites Every Actor Should Know About.
3. Attend Workshops
There has been a lot of controversy over casting director workshops in the last few years, but the bottom line is that they still work! This gives you some face to face time with casting directors that can be hard to get any other way. And hey, these people know a thing or two about what it takes for actors to book work; trust what they have to say. While casting director workshops were traditionally offered in-person, like everything else they went virtual in 2020. While this does mean you could take a workshop with a casting director anywhere in the world, you still want to be mindful of where you are most likely to be cast and on what type of show.
4. Pitch / Connect Every Week
Another thing you probably hate hearing people say, but it’s true, this is a business and ya gotta do the sales part. Take some ideas from the list above and pitch or at least connect with a few casting directors a couple of times per week. Do this every week, week in and week out, and like anything else you are consistent in, you will eventually build momentum and your efforts will pay off.
5. Send Postcards
Although this largely went out the window in 2020, I’m still including it because postcards can be virtual, sent via email or even posted on social media. Printed postcards have been around since the dawn of acting time, and yes have traditionally been very effective, so maybe consider an electronic option.
Postcards can take many different forms, from purely factual, to funny and attention getting. If you think they are outdated or don’t work, look at the flyers you still get in your physical mailbox and inbox. Big companies wouldn’t keep doing this if they didn’t feel there was a return on investment. And consider this, if you are not sending out some kind of postcards, I can guarantee you your competition is.
6. Do Drop-Offs
NOTE: I’m only including this now because it’s a great story and may become effective if casting directors ever go back to their offices, but at the time of this writing it is not effective.
Joy Nash booked a series lead in Dietland from doing a drop-off at a casting office. If you know there’s a part that you’re right for, personally drop off your headshots and resume at the casting office and put a Post-It on it with the name of the role and part you want. Introduce yourself when you drop your packet off. Alternately, haven’t seen a CD in a while, or maybe ever, do a quick drop off at the office and help them put a real person to the submission they receive from your agent.
7. Stay Positive and Stay Consistent
Yes, at times this can wear you down. But if you keep “sending out ships” so to speak, eventually one or two of them is going to come rolling back in. Consistently get in front of your “buyers” – casting directors, producers, directors and writers. Careers are long and the industry is smaller than you think! This is a marathon, not a sprint.
However you decide to reach out, keep in mind, we’re all people and nothing can replace genuine connection. Approach these relationships like you would any other.
Do have any suggestions? Something that has worked well for you or an actor friend? I’d love to hear from you! Head to the comments section below and leave me a note. I promise to respond to every one.
Like this article or love it? Share it. Tweet it. Pin it. Post it! The industry is tough and we could all use a little help! Remember, I’m always on your side. 🙂 Hunter