…neglect new ways of staying in touch with industry professionals.
Staying in touch with industry professionals is important. I have been in and around commercial casting for 5+ years now, and in general, I see actors do the same ineffective things in hopes of staying at the forefront of a Casting Director’s mind, as they did years ago. The most common: sending headshot/resume or postcard via mail to a Casting Director’s office. Actors also drop off the same items. It has been my experience that most of the time in commercial casting offices, these items go straight into the garbage. Commercial Casting Directors do not have hard copy files! Our files are on LA Casting! Fortunately, for you ambitious actors, there are some new (and sometimes fun) ways to stay in touch with your favorite Casting Director. I am surprised how few take advantage of some simple and effective things you can do…and how many miss crucial details, and therefore, have missed opportunities.
Commercial actors should never neglect new ways of staying in touch with industry professionals…all while being careful to not cross the line.
I am not a social networking expert by any means. One thing I do, is Twitter a couple times a day… usually I “tweet” a bit to actors about something that has just happened in my commercial casting world that I think you would benefit from knowing… Pointers/suggestions/common mistakes and such. And, I also tweet about stupid stuff like my obsessions with Showtime’s Dexter, pumpkin pancakes from Trader Joe’s, and cocktails… lots of cocktails. I give you this background to show good, innovative ways actors interact with Casting Directors…in this case, me.
Example #1: This young woman actually inspired this article. One Saturday, I posted a tweet expressing my love and devotion to pumpkin pancakes and the mix from Trader Joe’s. (My “stupid” tweets are most often after business hours or on weekends) This provoked a bit of a response… mostly from friends and colleagues… and from 1 actor. She tweeted the suggestion of adding chocolate chips. For whatever reason, I responded. Sometimes I do or don’t…but a mental note is taken either way. One week later, she tweeted me an industry question in response to something I had written. A week after that, I received an email (which is where her genius comes into play). The subject line said, “Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Other Business”. I knew immediately who it was from… it was the choc-chip-pumpkin-pancake Twitter girl, @stephanieyadon. It was the simplest email in the world:
Just wanted to introduce myself! Really enjoying your twitter posts and, as always, your articles on LA Casting. Did you ever make the Pumpkin pancakes from Trader Joe’s with chocolate chips? You won’t be sorry.
She signed her full name…*and included the link to her LA Casting account*. Of course I wanted to see her photos, her resume and Agent info, so I clicked. When it’s that easy, it’s hard to resist. I didn’t think about deleting the unopened email because I immediately knew who it was. A brilliant introduction…no line crossed and I didn’t feel stalked.
Example #2: Also a young woman staying in touch (outside the normal hardcopy mailings to an office) is an actor who was a reader (found by production, not myself) for a web series I was casting. We met for the first time at the auditions. I thought she had a great look and read well, but if I had never heard from her again, she would likely be far from my immediate thoughts by now. Within a few days of the audition, she (@Vianessa) followed me on Twitter. Amongst other things, she would post a weekly tweet about the theatre show she was performing in. I am sure she took notice of me tweeting about some theatre I was seeing (I love theatre and see a fair amount of it in Los Angeles) and invited me over Twitter to see the show. She included a YouTube promo link (great idea!) with the invite. I had every intention of seeing the show, but unfortunately, never got there. NOT a major loss for her. The truth is: I heard her read, watched the promo for her show and she touched base with me several times (in a diligent way, without being pushy). She is on my radar…and if the right thing comes around, I will call her in. Plain and simple. AND…I didn’t even get to her show! There is also a small guilt factor in that, so you can bet I will try to make it next time, if asked… and I bet she will. If she had mailed a post card inviting me to the show, I would have thrown it away, guaranteed…and I love theatre!!
Two actors took 2 pieces of relatively frivolous information (my love for Trader Joe’s pumpkin pancakes and theatre) they gathered about me over Twitter and used it to get their name and face in front of me. Successfully. There are a lot of relatively new tools (besides Twitter) available to keep you in touch with industry pros. Take advantage of it!
A quick bit on missed opportunities and no-no’s… this is “Commercial Actors Should Never…” after all!
Missed opportunity #1: When following up with an industry contact that has been arranged through someone else (a Producer friend of yours, etc.), always play it safe and remind them of your full name and the mutual acquaintance. “I am so-and-so and I am a friend of Mr. Producer.” Industry professionals try to stay on top of information like this, but why not ensure they are. The contact does you NO GOOD if the industry pro can’t remember your full name, or why they should be giving the extra effort to help you.
Missed opportunity #2: When emailing a Casting Director (for whatever reason!), always include a link with your online information…whether it’s a link to your Casting Networks account or your own website. Chances are much greater that they will click on a link than look you up. You want them to see your photos and resume! Make it easy! I can’t tell you how many emails from actors I receive with no link…or last name.
Just don’t do it: You have heard me say a million times never to call a casting office. More importantly is to never call a Casting Director/Associate on their cell/home phone! As casting hours are increasingly changing to include what were traditionally “after hours”, you will likely get a call from casting after hours on their personal phone at some point. After you have promptly returned the call at their request, burn the number. Don’t call 2 months later to check in or to say Hello. It’s creepy. Period.
So many options are available to actors to stay on the radar of their favorite Casting Director/industry professional. You are missing opportunities if you aren’t at least exploring some of these options. Don’t cross the line, error on the side of caution, and use that imagination that you all are so fortunate to have!