by Casting Director, Laurie Records
…pooh-pooh (yes, I said it) the importance of logging/tracking audition details.
I, by nature, am a relatively random thinker/organizer and creative type. Not a type A gal. I definitely spend a considerable amount of time in the right side of my brain… and yes; I had to look that up because I always forget which is which. Does this sound like I’m describing you? My hunch is I share this description with many actors. This is likely what makes you a good actor. Being a creative thinker is also a potential challenge when it comes to addressing the business aspect of your acting career. Last month, I casually suggested that actors should keep a log of auditions they attend. I also claimed that an audition log has far more value that one might think. For the skeptics out there… or for the ones who’ve never thought of such a thing, this is important enough to make my case.
Commercial actors should never underestimate the value of logging audition details.
I’m not going to tell you what program you should use to document this information, the method to keep it organized, nor give you an exhaustive list of what you should be keeping track of… I’m just going to get you thinking and let you run with it.
Why, oh why would you want to keep track of this information?
Date. This profession is a marathon, not a sprint. You will find this information remarkably valuable when feeling like you are in a slump. Is it usually slower for you in May? If you’ve kept track of your auditions for several to many years, you can look to see what’s happened in past years. It can calm your fears when you are feeling anxious, or give you reason to have a chat with your (new or longtime) agent. What would an agent meeting look like when you are armed with facts about your career vs. your feelings/fears?
Product. This may help you to define your overall type. Are you a fast food type of actor? Is P & G your brand? Or are you more General Mills? Once you are seeing trends (or not seeing trends) it can inform your next headshot session or where your audition wardrobe may be lacking. It may, on a bigger level, cause you to rethink your haircut or how you style it for certain auditions. Once you start to see a trend (or not! That speaks volumes as well) in the way you are being called in, you can research effectively and have a Casting Networks account that best highlights your type(s), as well as take some of the guess work out of how to look when you show up to an audition.
Casting Director. I went over this last month… I believe this information is beneficial in creating/maintaining relationships, for prospective agent meetings, and for thank you’s.
Role/Description/Main Photo submitted:
Role. Not the role name… but the type of role is an important detail to track. Are you called in for Mom/Dad, Office Worker, Outdoors guy/gal, Employee, Spokesperson, and Hipster…. Are these roles in agreement with the type(s) you believe you are? Do your headshots reflect this? If you are being called in every now and then for Mom roles, but don’t feel like you have a “Mom headshot” you are probably missing out on opportunities. If a couple of Casting Directors are calling you in for a certain type, especially if you are having success (callbacks, avails, bookings) all Casting Directors should be. If you feel strongly that you are a certain type that you are rarely called in for, you may want to take a look at the potential causes.
Description. I cringe as I say it, but this includes age range… are you consistently being called in for an older/younger age range than you really are? Do you show up and see no other actor that looks like you? Why might this be? (Ahem, headshots!) Or is the reality that one Casting Director seems to have the range wrong, but others are spot on. What can be done about this? Are you called in for quirky, gorgeous, or real looking? Where do you succeed and when do you consistently fail to move on in the process? All of these are brilliant things to analyze… so that appropriate action can be taken. This logging stuff is a powerful tool in truthfully tracking exactly what is happening in your career.
Main Photo submitted. You know that Casting Directors see 100 thumbnail photos per page of submissions, don’t you? From the one “Main Photo” we decide to look at your other photos, resume, personal stats or even to immediately select you. When you track your auditions and the photo you were selected from, you are getting feedback on what photo(s) consistently work best for you. And which ones aren’t serving you so well. Good to know, don’t you think? You can remove the losers after given a sufficient amount of time and repeat the look-and-feel of the winners after a few years, as long as it’s still an appropriate category.
Type of audition… Dialogue/Non Dialogue/Personality Slate/Group:
This is good to simply track what you are good at, and where you could use some help. Whenever you have a callback, is it for a non-dialogue spot? Well then, all signs point to you being comfortable and excelling in that arena. When you go out on spots with dialogue and rarely to never receive callbacks, that may be an area of opportunity for you. You can then seek out a class/private coaching to work out the kinks. Are you skilled at giving a personality slate or do you bomb them? Unfortunately you can’t go on your feelings about them post audition, as we know the feelings aren’t necessarily telling of whether you will get a callback or not… but statistics don’t lie. That’s why you keep track. You may feel terrible after personality auditions but get a callback half the time. This is not so bad. Get more coaching addressing that particular issue if you want, but if your stats say that you have moderate success, you may want to address a bigger area of opportunity.
Have I made you a believer in the art and importance of logging your audition details? If so… stay tuned, I’ll continue with more things to consider next month. No? It’s ok… this column is full of suggestions, from the world according to Laurie. Nothing else. I happen to be partial to that point of view. I hope you are, too.