Welcome to the POET Theatricals “Tips for Professional Performers” series. In this series we give tips to professional performers from a producer’s point of view. In the first installment of the series, we focus on the entertainment casting and booking process.
With so many talented performers out there it can be frustrating for artists to find a job. “How can I get hired? Where do I even start?” are common questions. We understand this frustration and want to provide you with a few helpful hints to point you in the correct direction. There are three primary ways for talent to get hired: live auditions, submitting auditions remotely and word of mouth or repeat contracts.
There are many ways for one to find live auditions. Some of the most common ways are through word of mouth, trade papers, specific companies’ websites and online casting sites. Some auditions can only be obtained through an agent. If you find yourself continually locked out of auditions for jobs that you feel may be perfect for you, you may want to explore finding an agent who can help you gain access to these auditions. Be sure to take note of whether the audition will be following equity rules or not, as this will affect the time you show up, whether you will be seen or not, etc. It is very important to note in each audition notice what the casting directors are looking for. Be sure that you are the correct age, type, vocal range, etc. so you do not waste your time with auditions at which you have no chance of landing the job.
Once you’ve found the live audition you wish to attend, prepare yourself with whatever materials the audition notice announces, i.e. song preparation, monologues, proper attire and any other pertinent details. Arrive at the audition with plenty of extra time, and bring snacks to keep your energy up as this can often be an all day process. Be polite to all within the building, including the monitors in the holding rooms. Once you get inside the actual audition room, try to relax and put your best foot forward. Remember that the Casting Directors want you to do well! Auditions may have several rounds, with cuts being made throughout the day, so prepare yourself for a lot of waiting around. Try to find ways to keep your body, voice and mind warm, without tiring yourself out.
After your initial audition you may be asked to either stay for a callback or to come back another day. Oftentimes specific materials may be given to you to study for the callback. Be sure to put as much energy and preparation into your callback materials as you did your initial audition, as you can easily ruin an initial good impression with shoddy callback preparation. For continuity, it is suggested that you wear the same thing, or something extremely similar to what you wore in your initial audition so the Casting Directors recognize and remember you. They obviously liked the way you looked initially, or you may have been “typed-in”, so stick with your initial look. Remember that some casting decisions are made on the spot while others take time. If you hear nothing initially, don’t give up. The Casting Directors may not have a suitable position for you at the moment, but may keep you on file to contact you in the future. Many Producers suggest a pleasant and SHORT email/postcard follow-up after a successful audition. DO NOT send several follow-ups and updates.
While submitting auditions remotely has many similarities to a live audition, there really is a whole different set of things of which to be conscious. Some companies send out calls for online submissions, and in these cases they are most often hiring for immediate placement. They may accept your personal demo reel, but they may also ask for specific audition material such as something from the show being cast. It is imperative that you present your absolute best work when submitting remotely. Casting Directors are often more critical of online submissions because they assume you had several “takes” to make the submission, so they’re less likely to be forgiving of mistakes. Be aware of your surroundings when filming your audition. Try to make your video submissions as professional as possible, perhaps by renting a studio in which to film the material, or by putting up a curtain backdrop. At the very least, do not have clothes or other clutter in the background. Avoid background noise that can be distracting for the Casting Directors, and check to make sure the sound quality is good if you’re submitting a vocal audition.
It is acceptable to send your promotional materials to companies even if they haven’t sent out a specific call for submissions. These submissions are sometimes used to keep talent on file to be called at a later date. Be sure to include your resume, headshot, demo reel and body shot. Be conscious of your cover letter/introduction email, as this is your first impression and can set you up to be perceived as a professional or a rookie. Many Casting Directors may receive your personal audition materials and then request further information or specific online audition material. This is a good sign, as it means they have seen something about you that intrigues them. As with a live callback, any materials given should be thoroughly prepared and rehearsed, while at the same time being returned in a timely fashion. You don’t want to miss out on a job for which you are specifically being considered, especially when you have been invited to submit additional material. Remember, casting moves quickly.
One of the newer ways to audition remotely that has really taken off recently is casting portals such as www.calltime.com. These can be great places to be discovered remotely, and also to send specific auditions without ever having to put out the time or expense of live auditions. Create profiles on such sites showcasing your talent to its best, and be sure to respond to any inquires through your profile in a timely and professional manner. As is the case with POET Theatricals and POET Theatricals Marine, many companies have relationships with these sites and use them regularly to find talent. By using these casting portals you are also letting the website do some of the advertising/promotional work for you, as many websites routinely send email alerts to Casting Directors to encourage them to view the newly-submitted or updated talent portfolios on their site. Some sites may spotlight certain talent each month to Casting Directors, and others offer networking solutions for talent. Some sites have paid membership, some are free, and some are free but offer the opportunity to upgrade your portfolio or to access additional services a la carte.
The oldest and most reliable way to book a job is through word of mouth or repeat contracts. Performers who are continually working often do so because they are so easy to work with. Within every performance opportunity be sure to arrive to performances/rehearsals on time and prepared, take notes well, be open and receptive to change, be helpful to others in your cast, avoid being perceived as a diva, never be seen causing or perpetuating drama, take care of your bodies/voices so you are not continually calling out of shows and always give 100% in every performance even when you have a long contract. Performers who follow these simple rules often get repeat casting from Directors who enjoyed working with them precisely because they have proven themselves reliable and easy to work with.
Hopefully, armed with these tips you are ready to go out and successfully book work. You’ve already done the hard work honing your skills as an artist, now its time to take the next step in the process.
Check back soon for installment two in this series, focusing on entertainment contracts and paperwork.