Monday, May 20, 2013

What kind of picture or headshot is a casting director looking when submitting for background work?

The most important fact a background actor needs to know is they are NOT looking for a headshot. A big no no in our industry. Listen, we know that you spend money and time to look your best; angles are spot on, poses are perfect, hair & make up are better than ever, but unfortunately that’s not honestly what you look like every day. And in order to be submitted and chosen to be on a TV or movie set they want to know what you actually look like. You would be amazed what shows up on set…sometimes, nothing like what the submitted photo reflects. That is not the way to give yourself a good reputation. Be sure to read our previous post on becoming a background actor!

At Cut Above Casting we know you want to look your best and we work hard to photograph the best shots of you. As an actor, we know you probably are going to think your eye looks to small, or your smile is crooked, but trust me, I spent a lot of time when I first opened this business researching what casting directors wanted. They all said the same thing; real shots, not headshots. Please keep in mind I am solely talking about when submissions are for TV, film, commercials & music videos for background actors, the game totally changes when you have a manager, agent or are going out on auditions. Then, you will need your ever-so beautiful headshot!

If you are with an extras booking service, like Cut Above Casting you will probably take a range of two or three photos. Some of the basic looks they are looking for are, based on your age range are: 18 to play younger, hip & trendy, business types, upscale party goers, soccer moms & hipster, to name a few. Bring plenty of wardrobe options so the photographer can style you in different looks. Casting directors in Los Angeles don’t need too many pictures of you, they have been doing this a long time and know what they are looking for. Rest assured, if they want to see you as a look that they don’t see they will ask you, or us, to send them a picture. We have done it hundreds of times!

Well, I hope that has helped background actors to understand that a really honest shot of you is going to get you booked much quicker than a Photoshop headshot!

Side note: When you do get headshots taken be sure to look as much like you headshot as you do in real life. There are a lot of really affordable headshot photographers out there. Here are three of my favorites:

ClickWest Photo: Click West Photo
Chris Sista Photography: Chris Sista Photography
Amber Caul Photography: Amber Caul Photography

Monday, May 6, 2013

OMG, it’s hiatus in Hollywood…how long will it last and what should I know?

 Well first off, I would say there is no way around it, so relax and do your best to ride it out. Remember, hiatus does not just affect the background actor it trickles into all aspects of Hollywood: casting directors, all the TV production union workers, booking services, caterers, dry cleaners, heck everything that makes up a TV show. We ALL have to grin and bear it.

Now looking at the brighter side, it only effects television. Yep, just TV!  Just this month we have still seen film, commercials, audience jobs and even a little TV. Realistically Hollywood never really shuts down, there is always something working.

Enter a booking service, especially a tenacious one like Cut Above Casting! This is exactly where one might think it's a good idea to invest in a small monthly fee. Some may disagree, but the goal of a booking service is to be the eyes and ears of what the background actor may not know, but because we directly communicate with the casting directors we may be privy to information you would of never known. Think of it like a temp agency for background actors. The temp agency (Cut Above) has a roster of people (BG actors) that can do the jobs, in this case the job is a movie extra. The outside companies (the casting directors) call the booking service for options to review, select & employ for the day. We are one of the avenues you should have to help find you work. A good booking service coupled with what ever your strategy is to hustle, rather it me submitting on LA Casting, Actors Access, weeding out a couple legit project off Craig’s List or involving yourself in student films, will all help to keep the momentum going until the beginning of July when our TV shows should begin to trickle back in.

When it slows down like this companies like Cut Above Casting start to search for what is filming. We are always available for the casting directors to call and may do a picture book campaign just to keep the CD’s aware that we are still out there. Most importantly, we don’t let them forget about, so as shows start to come back they naturally think to call on us. Our thoughts are never break stride!

Times have changed in the industry. I have done this work for over seven years and every hiatus has been different depending on what circumstances have happened that year in the industry. For example, in 2007-08 the writer’s strike made for a horrible hiatus for television, but luckily we still had quite a bit of film out here so it didn’t make the hit feel quite as bad. With feature films leaving California in search of greater tax credits and breaks, it feels slower this year, quicker. But like I said, there’s not much you can do about it, certainly complaining doesn’t help, it just blocks what is really needed; a positive energy and focus to keep your passion alive! 

Always the goal: understand the industry in which you chose, get on sets, get hands on experience, get connected, be professional, rinse & repeat!

Positive intentions everyone and we'll get through this together! I hope this has helped you to understand what to do during hiatus.

Continued success to all!