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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Following up after Industry Seminars

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I saw this question posted on a popular forum for actors, and I responded. Here is what transpired:

Hi! I recently went to one of The Network's (New York) casting director seminars. This one was with a casting director for a soap opera who says they're constantly casting for things- Under 5's, recurrings, etc. I read her sides and we chatted one on one, and afterward she said some very positive things about my 'audition' and said I should ‘definitely follow up with her’ and that she hoped to hear from me.

I've heard before with these "pay to play" situations, that following up can be a waste of time, or worse- a faux pas. But in this situation, it seems different, since she asked me to. If I do follow up (and I'd like to), what's the appropriate way to do so in this circumstance? I have a couple of jobs on the horizon I thought I'd write to her mentioning.. Or I've heard treats of some sort can be a good idea?

(I don't know if this makes any difference, but this one-on-one was cheap-- only $25. I guess I got the impression she genuinely looks for people through these things since they're casting happens so frequently.)

Thanks for any advice you can give!

Hi, there. This is a very good question- I strongly believe that you should embrace following up! It is NOT a waste of time, as you feared. I think the most valuable thing about doing seminars of this kind are the new relationships that are created- in fact, I personally think that is one of only two benefits of doing these kinds of events (the other is getting to hone your audition skills with a variety of industry folks.)

If you feel that the casting director, a) is someone you want to work with, and b) consistently has roles that are right for you - it is imperative that you have a system of ongoing follow-up. You need to build & maintain the relationship you've started, and the only way to do this is to keep in communication.

As far as what to do as a follow up- no treats are necessary, just send a photo postcard with a very nice thank you, and let her know that you will be keeping her updated periodically by postcard. And then you should keep in touch every 1-3 months with updates on your career. This is the part most actors forget to do, or start and then abandon, but it is vital in keeping your name/face in the minds of the people you are meeting. (Note: some industry folks actually prefer keeping in touch by email, so be sure to find out their preference before adding them to your updates list.)

Pay-to-play seminars are not casting opportunities, no matter how much we as actors want them to be. But they are relationship building opportunities, and casting directors are more apt to invite actors to audition if they have a relationship with them. It's a fine line, for sure, but I feel strongly that if you choose to pay for these seminars, you will get more value out of them if you have a strong plan for follow-up.

I have done tons of seminars and have actually had quite a bit of success with being called in (and cast/signed!) But almost without exception, I was called in after building my relationships via postcards for 3-6 months (or more). The best news? Several casting directors have seen me casually around town (at coffeeshops, outside audition studios, etc.) and have stopped me to say thank you for my engaging and informative updates. So, I am proof positive that it is noticed and appreciated!

I hope this helps- please do let me know if anything I said was unclear or if you need anything else.

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.

2 COMMENTS - Click to READ:

Yolanda Allen said...

This is great to know...since I happen to be one of those actors that have failed to do the "follow up" but I plan to make that a priority!

Erin C. said...

That is so great! I really think you'll notice a difference the next time you meet those folks, because they will have had updates in between meetings.

Best of luck to you!

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