Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What casting directors are looking for in a good, or better, GREAT background actor...

After being in this industry for over seven years, and as a business owner always being conscious of how to better what is out there, I have decided to blog about what a casting director is looking for in a background actor.

You will be amazed how simple it is. But first you must come from the mind of a CD and not an actor.

A casting director’s work is non-stop. Productions, 1st & 2nd AD’s wardrobe people etc. all have their demands. When the casting director gets an extras breakdown, like an audition, they start to look to many resources to see their options. Once they have plenty of potential actors to review, they start to book their spots. Even in the background industry, they cast ‘the look’ of what the production has asked for. There are different criteria: gender, ethnicity, look, age range, special skills, necessary props…and again, the list can go on. Most actors think it is just what they look like and yet that may only be one of the many factors.

The equation I tend to use goes like this:
Casting call is for Caucasian guys, ages 25-35 with business suit.
Casting director receives let’s say, 40 different submissions for guys that fit the category. They only need three to fill the booking. So they review all the pictures and cast the three that they like. Thirty-seven guys are not chosen. Nothing personal, nothing they did wrong. Simply put there were 40 submissions and the CD only needed 3 guys. It’s that simple.

So in closing I would say, and in speaking and having relationships with MANY casting directors over the years, keep it simple and not personal. Here is a basic checklist for all background actors:

  • Submit for as many roles that you look the part and never submit for a role that you don’t.
  • Look like your photos, they booked you based on that look.
  • Always be on time to set; camera, hair & make up ready.
  •  Have many avenues to search for work. Having a calling service is one, in addition to, on line submissions and joining all casting directors here in LA with client rosters.
  •  Be organized. Being an actor is like running your own business; many jobs, auditions, acting classes etc. can overlap. Make sure there are never any conflicts.
  • If you are not booked DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Because it is not personal. You just weren’t chosen.
  • Don’t bug the casting director- they know what they are looking for. Trust them. They too are doing their best to keep good relations with their productions. The industry is tough right now and everyone wants to keep his or her job.
  • Hustle. A positive word in Hollywood!
I hope this helps the many actors that don’t always understand why they weren’t booked. Research the industry; it is ever changing. Be aggressive, but don’t overstep your boundaries. Be grateful for every booking that you receive and be happy for others. 

I have seen many big breaks come out of being an extra; the next may very well just be yours!

No comments:

Post a Comment