You’ve probably had some experience in sales, in one form or another. In fact, arguably, we all spend more time than we think being a salesman.
The good news is, we buy something either because:
1. We want it (iPods, DVDs, Smoothie maker)
2. We need it (Mobile phone, broadband, food)
Although in the first instance, no money is exchanged, we are selling ourselves to Casting Directors when we write to them because ultimately we want them to employ us.
So with the above principal:
1. What do they want?
They want a performer who is reliable, talented, will show they’ve done a good job in their casting endavours.
2. What do they need?
A performer who fits the physical appearance of whatever they’re currently casting.
So many people get stuck at the first point and ask the appropriate question: How do I show reliability, talent and make them think I’m a good choice having not met them?
Forgive the crass analogy for one moment, but imagine that you’re buying a car. You very rarely see cars in showrooms that are badly presented, rusty, chipped and engine-less. Even if you only have £500 to spend, the investment is important to you, you want to get the most out of your cash and would want the salesperson to care what they’re selling you.
First impressions when writing to Casting Directors really do count, as they would if you were buying that car. The brilliant news is – you don’t have to spend the same sort of money!
Think of it as you’re solving the casting directors problem by writing to them as you’re offering them a solution to their casting problems. They do have problems to face everyday, like all of us. If they don’t find the right person who has the perfect look and will do a good job, they’ll run the risk of looking bad in front of the creative team they’re working for. This very rarely happens because most are brilliant at what they do but they still need to find the right people.
If you write a letter to them that is generic, with poor grammar, bad spelling, poorly formatted and looks like no thought has gone in to it – you’re not creating a good impression.
Here’s our ten point check list to help you get a better response:
1. Personalise your letter
That means – really personalise. Don’t just think that writing their name after ‘Dear’ and then following that with the same generic letter that you’re sending to everybody else is enough. You have to write to them and speak to them personally, as if you’re actually having a conversation.
2. Imagine you’re talking to somebody you know
This doesn’t mean be over friendly, we would never advise this, it just means…remember you’re speaking to a human being. Don’t be blatantly salesly about yourself or bombard them with facts about your life that are unnecessary. Be friendly, succinct and clever in the way you word your letter or email so that it’s presented in a way that indicates that you’re a likeable and reliable person.
3. Make yourself easily accessible
This is really important. Make sure your phone number, email address and spotlight pin is clearly visible on your letter, headshot and whatever else you’re including.
4. Watch your links
Nobody wants to type in a lot into their browser on the computer. Nobody will bother to type in www.yourname.com/myshowreel/part_1/view_it
This is ridiculous and nobody is going to type it in. If you have a personal website, make sure your showreel appears on the homepage so that Casting Directors can access it quickly by typing in www.yourname.com
5. Keep your Spotlight up-to-date
The chances are, if you’re going to be employed by a casting director then they will create their shortlist and invites within the Spotlight portal. Make sure your most recent credits are on there and that the headshot that they’ve received matches your main photo. Don’t be remembered as the person who sends four different photos, none of which match the spotlight profile picture.
6. Good headshots are essential
This is the most important one and requires some financial investment. You must have headshots that look the same way you do in real life. It’s embarrassing to turn up to a casting and you’re 3stone heavier in your headshot than you are in person because you’ve lost all of that weight since last October. The majority of castings happen based on look in the first instance and it’s not taken kindly if you’ve completely wasted their time.
7. Consider a different approach
Everybody sends the same old 10×8 and cover letter and in this world that is so based on image, to be honest this is getting a little old. It’s not difficult to create a slick and professional marketing campaign by using postcards and business cards to enhance your personal brand and stand out from everybody else.
8. Record a personal voicemail message
This may sound ridiculous but it’s actually really worth noting. It’s so frustrating when you phone somebody and then you hear the standard ladies voice saying ‘welcome to Orange answerphone’. Make sure yours lasts no longer than 10seconds, is polite, friendly and professional but so they know it’s definitely you.
9. Don’t be overbearing.
It’s pointless sending a letter/email and then calling the office to check if they’ve received it. Casting Directors don’t have time to call you until they NEED you and will not take this kindly. Partly because it’s embarrassing for everyone involved. The point is, if you sent it first class and there was no postal strike or snow storm, they WILL have received it but they almost certainly haven’t looked at it yet. The last thing you want to be remembered as is ‘the annoying one who followed up on the phone.’
10. Little and often.
Don’t write anything anywhere that is more than 200 words. You should set this as an absolute maximum so that your letter can be skim read in just a few seconds (30seconds max). If you insist on following up to the Casting Director (we don’t advise it at this stage though) do so in email form rather than a phone call.
None of the above guarantees that you will be seen in the first instance but it will greatly improve your chances. If you do want to save time when writing to them, remember we’ve got 189 of the top UK casting directors on labels, ready to send to you now.
Thanks for reading – Adam (& the Already Labelled Team)