Advice and How-To's Especially for ACTORS!

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Where can you be "found"?

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I was listening to a monthly podcast by the American Theater Wing, which featured an interview with casting director Bernard (“Bernie”) Telsey, a casting director for many of the top shows on Broadway. He was asked to name one of his toughest casting projects- he answered by talking about how hard it was finding legitimate rock singers for “Rent.” At the time, very few musicals required that style of vocals, and he was having trouble finding exactly what he needed. He looked everywhere he could think to look - he even went as far as to call rock and roll music teachers to see if their students would be a good match. They put out ads in local papers, went to see performances... basically scoured the country to find the right fit. And this started me thinking... if you were perfect for a brand new style of show, how would the casting director find YOU? Bernie Telsey was somewhat new on the casting scene when he took on “Rent” for the New York Theater Workshop (though he had been in NY theater for many years prior.) He didn’t have the luxury of a long list of relationships with actors, so he really had to hunt to find the right cast. So... what are you doing to be on the radar of TODAY’s up and coming casting director?

Start by thinking long and hard about what parts of the industry you are most interested in being a part of (see my article with hints about how to figure this out.) Then, grab a Ross Reports and take note of the casting directors listed. Do a little research online and see what you can find about them - do they hold general auditions or EPAs? Do they teach classes? Do they do lectures or sit on panels for SAG or AEA? Do everything you can to build and maintain relationships with the key casting directors in your chosen medium. Hint: Up and coming casting directors do a lot more public events than the busiest casting offices, because they have to. And they are hungry for fresh, new talent.

There are other ways to get yourself out there. Watch plays and see local films - you’ll often find casting folks in the audience and you can take the time to introduce yourself and acknowledge them and their work (if you already have an established relationship, you can also acknowledge them with a card by mail.) Intern at a casting office or volunteer to be a reader. Volunteer at arts related events (film festival season is upon us...) If you are the competitive sort, do a talent competition (there’s often prize money and industry judges, as well as positive press!) Create demos and short projects and self publish on the internet, making sure that these clips appear in searches when your name is entered. Etc etc etc.

And for goodness sake, make sure your headshot has crossed the desk of every casting director on your list. There’s no excuse- do it!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out http://www.theactorsenterprise.org.

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