by Casting Director, Laurie Records
A multi-part series for the not-so-established actor hoping to improve their career.
I have long said that crashing an audition is an absolute no-no. Don’t do it. It’s unprofessional, trouble, and just simply don’t! But it is clear to me that crashing is a part of casting (that I maintain, I hate) and I am taking a new approach: a bit of a “if you can’t beat ‘em, educate ‘em” attitude…
Commercial actors should never crash an audition, but if you do, you should be responsible and smart about it. And I am going to tell you how…
Ask instead of sneak. If you stumble upon a casting in which you are sure you are perfect for a role (actors waiting that are exactly your type, that you often see at other auditions in which you DO have an appointment, etc.), ASK if you can be seen. I am not going to lie, more often than not, the answer will be no. But occasionally, the casting team will say yes! Victory! But that isn’t the only step to responsible crashing. There is a LOT more. If the answer is no…. the key is to thank them and walk away. Do not get snarky or give any attitude. You have to remember, the staff has a high stress job with a lot to do in a short period of time. Being nice to crashing actors isn’t on the top of the list of priorities. Smile, be gracious and walk away.
If you have the yes, there is a lot of info you must gather before walking into the room.
Union status of the job. Union actors cannot audition for non-union jobs, unless they are financial core. I am now going to say that non-union actors should not crash union jobs, due to the potential fine production could be given for the Taft Hartley.
Shoot dates. Are you actually available for the shoot? If you aren’t, you can’t crash. What you are doing (crashing) is controversial enough… if in the end, you are fortunate enough to book the job, heads will roll if you aren’t available for the shoot dates.
The rate. SAG scale is completely different for a national network job, than it is for an Internet only, or promo job. Don’t assume that just because a job is union (AFTRA, too) that the rate is “good”. Non-union jobs can pay anything from peanuts to a lot of money. Again, if you are so fortunate to book the job (and yes, I have booked crashers), there can be no hesitation of your acceptance PERIOD, and that includes the rate.
Dialogue. If you go in…you better be good. If you know that you aren’t a quick study and there is dialogue, don’t go in and deliver a poor audition. If you have any doubt, don’t do it. Nothing is more irritating to casting than saying yes to an actor wanting to crash, and them not being able to deliver.
NEVER crash a callback, or an audition being held at production. You risk making the Casting Director look bad. They will find out about it. And they possibly won’t forget it.
Never crash an audition where clients are present.
NEVER crash an audition if your Agent has forbidden it. When you are without representation, these decisions are yours and yours alone. When you have an Agent, these decisions become theirs. You are expected to follow their system of confirming, booking out, etc…and you also must respect their crashing policy. Many will be absolutely against crashing. Some (oddly) totally encourage it. And I am sure there are many that fall somewhere in between.
Most importantly, when considering crashing an audition, follow your Agent’s policy on the subject and be respectful to the casting staff… And make sure you are good on every last detail of the job!