Laurieby Casting Director, Laurie Records

…make basic mistakes when it comes to a callback.

Last month, I addressed what I deemed the “less than obvious mistakes” that actors have been known to make in callbacks. After receiving emails and having various conversations with industry pros and actors alike, I am compelled to cover callback basics. Although you may be tempted to skip reading for the month due to your confidence in having the basics totally under control, I encourage you to spend the few moments to read on. I’ve witnessed even the total commercial veteran make these very mistakes from time to time. You can learn ‘em the hard way, but why?

Commercial actors should never neglect the basics in preparing for a callback, lessening the possibility of booking the job.

*Double-check the callback location. Most Casting Directors have a facility they regularly work out of. On rare occasions, Casting Directors may have to take their casting to a different studio due to lack of availability (ahhh… those were the days) in their own “home” studio. It is FAR MORE COMMON that callbacks are held in a different location, for several reasons. There are times when all clients cannot be physically present at the callback, and choose to conduct callbacks via video conferencing. Not all facilities have this capability, causing the casting team to take the callback on the road, to a facility that does. Sometimes, the callback is at the production company to save on production costs. This is only becoming more and more common. What does this mean to you? It’s easy to assume that the callback is at the same location as the first call. If you are wrong and show at the wrong location, you may have just missed your opportunity to book the job. I’ve seen many actors not able to make the second “real” callback location before the session closed. Always make sure you know where you are going.

*Check for updated copy. Ideally, casting would alert you to prepare updated copy when you receive your callback appointment time. I wouldn’t rely on it. There are a million (I only slightly exaggerate) casting details to deal with. A heads up can be, and certainly is, overlooked from time to time. It takes 5 minutes to check and see if anything new is posted… why wouldn’t you do it, to give yourself every possible advantage? Or at the very least to not be at a disadvantage! If there isn’t new copy, review the copy from the first call. Not all actors do this. Again, I ask, why not refresh your memory? Then, ask AGAIN (or better yet, read the posted signage) when you arrive. Commercial copy changes all the time.

*Check for changes in wardrobe request. Often times, it will be the same… but when there is a change, it’s usually very important and at the client or director’s request. Check it. Super easy. Wear the same thing you wore to the first call if there is no change. While you are at it, make sure it’s clean. Who wants a stinky actor on set?

*Get a good night’s sleep, do yoga, drink coffee, eat a banana, recite your mantra, play your iPod… do whatever you do to focus yourself in order to be great in the room. Do you have an audition ritual? Maybe you should. The stakes increase when it comes to a callback. Do everything within your power to get a decent night’s sleep, as bags under the eyes have yet to catch on, commercially. How do you handle crazy, debilitating nerves? Be disciplined enough to do all those things before your callback. Don’t forget you are on a short list of people that are liked! A callback is the worst time for a blow off. The worst time for ridiculous nerves. The worst time for under-energized work. You’re A-game is needed each and every time.

*Arrive on time… even though callbacks are notorious for running behind. I was fortunate enough to receive feedback on last month’s column from a 1st AD friend of mine. After reading, he reminded me that I forgot to mention the most basic of all things: Arrive on time to the callback. I risk beating a dead horse with my faithful monthly readers by repeating and repeating, but in this case, I’ll do it anyway: It’s essential for actors to be on time to everything industry-related, always. Yes, I advocate perfection on this one. It’s that important. Be on time. Why bring up the 1st AD detail? To emphasize that just about everyone involved in production [from important director to measly (not really) makeup and hair person] has invested interest in an actor being able to arrive on time. Everyone cares. If you can’t make a callback on time, it’s easy to deduce that you won’t arrive to set on time. Yes, commercial callbacks can run behind schedule. Never mind. It doesn’t matter. Arrive on time and chill.

Perhaps this month, you learned something new, perhaps it was just a good refresher in the ‘ole basic callback arena. Never be afraid to take a stroll down memory/”basics” lane. It may save you, it may give you an advantage… at the very least, it can inspire a renewed commitment to stay on top of the all-important details of this crazy business.

Laurie Records, Casting Director