What are some things you wish more casting directors would do for actors?
Most experienced casting directors know and do all of these things already and it’s a big, big red flag that a production isn’t going to be super professional if I get a breakdown or sides that have the following issues. But I’ll share them because …it’s happened!
Please, please, PLEASE do not give us scenes that are impossible to do in an audition setting. I’ve had scenes with complicated blocking, sexy-times, MONOLOGUES for the other character, and other weird roadblocks that are just a huge pain in the ass to try to figure out how to act around. It’s more than obnoxious, it hinders my performance.
Mark up the scripts if you want us to start or stop somewhere. It should say START, END, and you should cross out anything that you don’t want us to do in the audition. The scene should NOT skip like three pages; at that point, you’d be better off getting a different scene for us. Think about all the page turning we’ll have to do on camera and how distracting that is for everyone!
NEVER, EVER give actors a choice. Just tell us what scenes you want to do. I hate it when casting gives us four scenes and says “pick two!” No. Just tell me what work you want to see.
Likewise, figure out what you want us to work on BEFORE YOU SEND THE SCRIPTS & SIDES. Don’t tell me to prepare three scenes “but we’ll probably only do one! 😀 :D” It takes HOURS to work on a scene and fill up a character and her world; if you want me to learn nine pages, great! That’s fine. I’ll do it. But don’t ask me to do all this work and then dismiss it on the day. Can you imagine putting in days of preparation and having your boss just shrug it off and not use it? Not even look at it? That sucks.
I know that for The Long Dig, Tom & I felt that we didn’t have a scene for any of our auditioning actors that was full and gave them depth, range, and adequate time; the actual movie is pretty sparse. So instead of slicing & dicing in a weird way to compose audition sides, we actually took the time to write full scenes for Laren, Ioseph, and Seamus. It gave the actors something more to chew on and gave us a way to watch for performance. If your sides don’t give the actors that benefit, consider asking the writer for a better audition scene… especially if you’re trying to cast a lead.
Casting directors generally do know this but every once in a while … we’re not robots. We aren’t mind readers. We’re also not idiots. We audition for hundreds of offices; if you like something done a certain way, just tell us. We don’t need to be scolded about anything.
Like I said though: most casting is great! Everyone I’ve met who is working at the indie/TV/film level knows ALL of this and is rooting so hard for me (and all actors!) that they stack the deck for us to win. That’s all we need — you in our corner.
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How do you meet people with money or influence or power in the industry ? Everyone I know is broke and everyone I meet at networking events and parties is at my same level. I feel like I can’t move past the stair level I’m on right now no matter how many events I attend or how many classes I try to take. – Rayne
I think this is a really good question that we don’t ask enough because it feels a little skeezy to ask. All the more reason to get some straight talk! And the answer here is:
You (probably) don’t meet people with more influence. You meet people where you are and you work with them. You offer your collaboration and expertise and do the work. Someone in that group will get staffed on a show. Someone will win an indie film fest award. Someone will book a huge editing job and need an assistant. Someone…
You get the idea. Build your tribe. Work hard, work smart, and be kind; those people will remember you and will reach out to you as they (and you) move up these stair levels.
Don’t worry about meeting the “right” people because that’s an absolutely impossible battle. You will never position yourself correctly to meet everyone you think is “right”. Also… you never know who is right. You never know who will blow up. So I think it’s a much better return on your time to simply find who you like, cultivate those relationships, and continue to do good work.
I personally find no value in “networking events”. There are way too many people all trying to make better contacts and that’s not the kind of relationship I find sustainable in this industry; I want to meet people I love working with. Think about it: you’re on set for 16, 18 hours a day. Who do you want with you in those trenches? Someone you enjoy or someone you think can propel your career? For me, 100%, it’s the former; if nothing else, because people are way more interested in THEIR careers than yours.
So to sum up: don’t worry about your stair level. Keep doing good work, keep asking questions, and you will move forward.
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I have a MASSIVE series regular audition to prep over the next two weeks. It’s sixteen pages long and I’ll probably be recording it sometime before Friday the 29th, so I have a bit of time. Anyone jonesing for a run of lines? Sunday is Patron day, so I’ll definitely have time then! Just ping me on Sunday and let me know if you’d like to!
I barely know what to even title this one. But I wanted to share with you guys an actual example of the way I, personally, have been spoken to in pursuit of this industry and this job and touch on a few reasons why I think it happens this way.
First, though, I want you to just CONSIDER: would I have been spoken to this way if I were a man? Just think about it. There’s no real answer. But any time you see an example of this kind of behavior, it’s a good question to consider. And then hold the knowledge that even if the answer is, yeah, probably, the REACTION from a man to that kind of letter is going to be wholly different; he doesn’t usually have to think, oh shit, will this guy hunt me down? will this guy doxx me? will this guy harm me in some way? And let that inform any and all interactions and responses from there.
I think this boils down to one concept. Entitlement. Men are entitled to a woman’s time, men are entitled to an “acceptable” response from a woman, and people are entitled to an artist’s time.
I would wager filmmaking isn’t the only time the first two come up. Every time a woman is asked to do a little extra work or any time a woman doesn’t respond with a sufficient number of exclamation points, she’s facing a really sexist roadblock. If you’re a woman, I challenge you to make a tiny tweak this upcoming week: don’t add qualifiers to any emails. No exclamation points, no smilies, no “Sorry to bother”s, no dumbing yourself down. I’m guilty of this kind of behavior too, so I’m going to give it a try this week as well & report back on Twitter. Let me know how yours goes!
Let’s talk about the third: the belief that “you” are entitled to an artist’s time and attention. I’m using you very broadly, to mean simply: a fan (or a patron or whatever). Very shortly, you aren’t. No one is. No one is entitled to anyone else’s time or attention, regardless of money spent. I think generally speaking we WANT to give fans our time and attention because we know that someone bought that ticket and they believe in us and it’s important to say thanks, but on no planet does that mean we HAVE to take time out of our lives and our work to make you feel special. As access to your favorite artists gets easier and easier, it’s really important to give them the respect you would hope they’d give you.
And if you’re an artist? Draw your line. Build a wall and protect your little artist self from demands on your time, your energy, your THOUGHTS, and your livelihood. Our job is hard enough and it’s already nigh impossible to keep the real world from intruding on our little corner of creativity so figure out where you need to press pause and make that very, very clear.
What about you? Have you ever dealt with this level of rudeness from people in your workplace? How did you handle it?
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