Before I started working in the casting business, I had already spent a number of years in New York-first as a student at acting school, and then as a working (and often not working) actor. I was surprised by the mistakes some actors make when submitting to the various casting companies I work with- so here are some very basic rules to follow so that you come across as a professional actor, even if you are new to the business.
1) Don't cold call and NEVER cold visit a casting office.
Think of it this way- do you enjoy strangers turning up at your door and trying to sell you something, or those customer survey phone calls?
Casting offices are always very busy, and don't have time to talk to people we aren't expecting! By turning up uninvited you will not make a connection with the office, but probably damage any possible future relationship with the people that work there. If you are calling the office to make general inquiries or make a submission- look on the website of the company you are targeting, could your questions be answered there? Is there an email/address so that you can submit your material via mail or email?
2) Headshots should be as professional as possible.
Ladies- I will not take you seriously if you send me a picture of you in a bikini: unless I am looking for an actor for a hooters commercial. Men- Never send a picture of you, in a bar, with a drink in hand- even if you look attractive.
Headshots should be taken PROFESSIONALLY- and photographers prices vary greatly for that. (I will follow up with an advise article about how to pick the right photographer for you)
Exception to getting professional shots done- Children. Young actors grow and change so much that a simple, digital picture with your child looking at their best (but not overdone- no pageant shots) will be just as good, especially if you aren't sure your child wants to really pursue acting professionally.
3) Have material prepared- the more the better
Preparation is key.
If you aren't a good cold-reader, practice. You should be comfortable with any material that you were meant to prepare for the audition, but here's a friendly warning- often you will arrive at an audition and the script you have learned has changed, or we will give you extra copy to read.
For theatrical auditions you will need to have a number of monologues that are age/gender/type appropriate. Have different styles in your repertoire- comedic, dramatic, classic, contemporary.
Even if you don't audition for musical theater, I advise you have a song, that reflects your personality and skill level, ready to go.
Know your personal measurements- you often need them at the audition.
4) SUBMIT, submit, submit.
If you aren't actively submitting for acting jobs you will not work! Simple as that!!
There are a number of online sources, here are some websites to start you.
5) You get the audition- what you should know before you go
If you have submitted yourself or if your agent has submitted you on a project and you get a phone call or email- some of these details will be in the breakdown, and some will be new information give to you when you get the audition. Either way this is what you should know before you go.
-Your audition time
-The name of the casting company and project title
-What type of project it is, and whether it is union/non-union.
-The project shoot dates/Run (don't take the audition if you aren't available!)
-Whether there are sides, or if you have to prepare something
The above seem basic, but often actors turn up to the wrong place, don't know the project title, don't know what the project is exactly, and are late!
6) A Casting director wants you to succeed- No, really, we do!!!
I am often surprised by the amount of people that feel negatively about the audition process. Nerves are understandable, but the more you audition the more comfortable you will become. We have called you in because we see something in you that's right for the role.
A casting director wants to you to do your best and wants you to be the person who is right for the role. We want as many great options to present to the client as possible!
I often place casting notices on my facebook-