What are the best things you can do to get noticed?
There are countless writings on the subject of promoting yourself in the performance industry and there are many ways of doing so, each of them serving a slightly different purpose.
A great deal of Actors will tell you that the reason for that ‘perfect job opportunity’ is because they just got lucky, or that they were in the right place at the right time, although we would suspect that this is rarely the case. Of course, the truth is that we believe you create your own luck and opportunity and this is usually because you have strategically planned carefully who to write to, or your agent has submitted you for a casting and regardless of your experience, you have exactly the look that the casting directors are looking for.
So how do you improve your chances on that happening to you?
It surprises us that many actors don’t know exactly who is casting what in current television and stage opportunities. First and foremost, if you don’t already, you must make it your business to know. On our Casting Director label list, we believe we have the majority of UK Casting Directors provided on labels but the truth is, not all of these people are currently casting major television series’ or West End Theatre. The PCR service can also be useful for this too.
When you study the credits of British Film, Prime time television and study the programmes of West End productions, many names will crop up time and time again, some who are relatively new to the Casting world and some who have been around for years. These are the people who are actively searching for talent all the time and fundamentally, who you need to be writing to and networking with.
Do most Casting Directors go to agents directly for their castings?
It is true that many Casting Directors approach agents directly for their castings and although this can seem frustrating, if you put yourselves in their shoes for a moment, you will probably ascertain that you would be making the same decision in their position. It is predominantly to save them time and also because they have a trustworthy relationship with a select number of agents, they can be assured that ‘real quality’ will walk through the door during castings and nobody will be ‘wasting their time.’
It can also feel like a real catch 22 situation, in that Casting Directors want to employ people with television experience… yet to get that experience, you do of course have to be given the opportunity to do so.
There are still things you can do though:
- Find ways of producing a really good quality showreel and upload it onto your website, your spotlight profile and send a hard copy to casting directors. This can seem incredibly expensive but there are always student film opportunities and with graduates making 3rd year films, most will be adequately professional. You could also consider getting a group of people together and hiring some basic equipment. A good HD camera and sound equipment is less expensive to hire per day than you probably think and split between five or six of your contemporaries can be very cost effective indeed. Many people have basic editing packages on their computer and with no special effects required, you can make an incredibly professional looking scene with a good HD camera and a basic edit suite. Unless you have the money, there is absolutely no need to spend hundreds hiring a studio. Find a really decent location and pick a great scene and make sure that the character you’re playing is a suitable casting for your age.
- Look out for Casting Director workshops. These happen relatively frequently. There is of course a price for this but in our experience, this is usually modest (worth doing a few hours overtime for one week, if this is possible.) You can expect to pay between £30-£100. Really do your research before attending these, find out what the casting director is currently working on and whether or not they are a member of the Casting Directors’ Guild. There is no better way to get in front of a Casting Director, you get to work with them and they will offer advice and in some instances, direct your scene. Conduct yourself professionally and always make a point of thanking them personally. A word of caution though, although it’s brilliant that you’ve done all of that research on their career – be careful not to be a walking encyclopedia of their CV, it can come across a little weird. If there is a Q+A session afterwards a better approach might be to ask a question about one project that they have cast in the last twelve months.
- Send the Casting Directors a personal letter, keep it concise and near the beginning of it, invite the casting director to view your showreel on your website. Incidentally, make sure the permalink (the address that you give to direct the Casting Director to your site) is incredibly simple, short and memorable. It is almost worth purchasing an entirely new domain for this purpose alone (from about £2.99 a year)…
For example, if your name is Jane Smith, perhaps your website is www dot Jane Smith dot com, make sure the link you write is either www . janesmith . com / showreel or even janesmithshowreel . info would be worth purchasing here? Because they are so busy, if you offer something memorable and easy to type it may well stay within the radar for slightly longer.
This might sound obvious but one particular performers showreel that we came across was
www . theactorsname . co . uk /1445/videos/showreel.html – this is far too long and complicated and should certainly be shortened. If we were casting a project, we wouldn’t bother to type that address in the browser when we could just watch other videos straight from Spotlight.
For more advice and up-to-date information, keep an eye on our blog.
Keep us posted about how you get on and feel free to leave your comments or ask questions to firstname.lastname@example.org