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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gifts for Casting Directors- Yay or Nay?

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From time to time I received emails from actors who follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or through the various websites where I am a guest blogger. This week I received a message from Justin, who had a specific question about the protocol for thanking casting directors after an audition. In an age where it is becoming increasingly difficult to make yourself stand ou from the pack, what is appropriate?

Here’s what he wrote:
Hi Erin!

I follow you on twitter and I wanted to ask you a quick question. I love all your tweets and advice and totally plan on setting up a meeting with you once I get in a better place financially. I recently crashed an audition for the 1st national tour of a well known musical, for a role I’m totally right for. The casting director had no problem seeing me for it but I didn't end up booking it. I wanted to send him a thank you card and I have heard of people putting gift cards (usually Starbucks) in them. Do you think that’s a good idea or does it seem creepy/desperate actor type? Hope to hear from you soon.

Thanks!
Justin

Hi, Justin! Thank you so much for your email- you posed a really good question, one that I think a lot of actors would like the answer to.

There are only one occasion where I would suggest sending a gift, and that would be AFTER you booked a role. Actually being cast is a good reason to send a little token of appreciation, because their faith in you has resulted in a good credit (along with a pay check!) But I would avoid sending gifts to casting directors for any other reason. Some will interpret that as a bribe, and it won't always work out in your favor.

The same goes for agents - you may consider sending a gift to them AFTER they have negotiated a deal for you, or at the end of the year as a holiday gift -- but only if you are signed/freelancing with them. Try to avoid giving gifts if you do not already have a strong working relationship.

That all being said, thank-you cards are always appreciated, so I highly encourage you do send one. Be sure to include your photo somehow - I usually insert my photo business card into the thank-you card, that way they can connect a face with a name.

I hope this helps- I would love to work with you, so let me know if you need any other support!

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:

Anonymous said...

I would go with no gifts. Even after booking. You are both professionals and compensated by your employer. Thank you cards are fine, but optional. I give my agents gifts at holidays, because they work for me. Casting directors do not. Casting directors work for the producer. Just show up on time and do good work and your relationship with the casting director will succeed.

Erin Cronican said...

Thanks for your perspective- I really appreciate that you stopped by and let us know what works for you. :)

A few times I have had a casting director really go to bat for me, which resulted in me booking a part I may not have been seen for. In cases like that, I feel like the casting director is working for me in spirit, though their loyalty certainly is to the production.

When I booked my first role on a TV show (after casting brought me in for 4-5 different roles over the 1st season), I still felt odd with the idea of sending a gift, though I wanted to. So I waited until the end of the year and sent a holiday gift with a special thank you for the booking.

Ultimately, we are business owners and we have to decide how we want to run our business. Part of this is to determine how we build our relationships, and I appreciate the vast experiences and preferences of the actors I come across.

So... keep your comments coming!

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