by Casting Director, Laurie Records
… shoot themselves in the foot.
I was holding a casting session recently where I had called in a good friend of one of my trusty camera operator/session directors. I wasn’t doing anyone any favors; she fit the role to a ‘T.’ It was perfect for her… it was one of those “we don’t need to see anyone else for this role, because you’re it” situations. She was that perfect. Her agent had asked if she could come in much earlier than her given appointment time, and I responded with the earliest time possible that would keep her in her category. It was earlier… but not the time she was hoping for. Actress X arrived the day of the session at the time she had requested, vs. the compromise time she was actually given. My assistant came into the room and asked what should be done with her. There were no scene partners for her in sight and she neededa scene partner. My camera operator gave a sigh, explaining that this is an all too common scenario with her and went out to have a heart to heart. He came back in saying that she “shoots herself in the foot,” by coming in at a time that is convenient for her schedule instead of the given appointment time. He talked her into waiting for her category to begin and an available scene partner to arrive. She did.
Commercial actors should never compromise their audition appointment.
Surely you have heard the insane commercial statistics of the thousands of submissions received by casting directors on every single role they put out. Hopefully you believe and understand that when you receive an audition appointment time, it’s a victory in and of itself. The goal is to give an outstanding (at the very least, solid) performance with the short amount of time you are given in front of the camera and that it will be worthy of a callback. This likelihood shrinks dramatically when you are supposed to have a scene partner, and due to the fact you have come in before or after your category, there is none available to you. This puts you at a major disadvantage. And just because you weren’t told to go home (which you legitimately could be) without being seen, doesn’t mean all is right with the world. It’s not. You have more than likely “shot yourself in the foot” as my incredibly wise camera op would say. Don’t sabotage your precious audition opportunity.
Unfortunately the reason for your needing a different appointment time has no bearing on the harm it can cause, no matter how noble, truthful and legitimate it is. When your day job (and I know most of you need to have them) causes you to shuffle your audition appointments on a regular business, you may need to consider a different one. I’d like to point out that going to work at the local coffee shop at 4:30AM wouldn’t bring about many audition appointment conflicts. You may have multiple appointments on opposite ends of town at practically the same time. This happens all the time. Most of the time your agent (or you, when self-submitting) is able to work something out for both sessions, not compromising either one. Occasionally you can’t be seen at both auditions and still be within your category. In this case I question whether being seen out of category at both is the best solution. Perhaps go to one on-time (the most potentially lucrative or likely to require scene partners) and the other out of category… or I dare say you may need to cancel one. The truth is, when you are supposed to be put on tape with a group, and there is no group available, you are often times wasting your own time as well as the Casting Director’s. Cancel, save your sanity and let the Casting Director replace you with someone who can make the appointment time. Precious time and gas saved and no one gets huffy.
You know that a callback session is 100 times more important than the initial session. So the “shooting yourself in the foot” factor increases 1000 times in a callback session when you are being seen without your necessary scene partner(s). This very same Actress X received a callback, but again, couldn’t make her given appointment time. I’m sensing a theme, are you? Callbacks rarely have flexibility and often times you are specifically and intentionally paired. Again, when the Casting Director sighs and grants a different time outside the category, it is not a victory. It’s a “better than nothing” situation… that still qualifies as “shooting yourself in the foot.” I’ve watched actors grow impatient while waiting for a full group to be comprised and report to the lobby assistant that they have to leave (after 10 minutes in the lobby, no kidding). Impatience is a terrible reason not to be seen with a full group, certainly (!) at the callback. Major actor self-sabotage. Actress X was seen without a scene partner and did not book the job, by the way.
Sometimes appointment times simply can’t be kept. We all know that we can’t be two places at the same time. All you can do is the very best you can do to give yourself every opportunity to book the job. Tough decisions will need to be made. Logically think through the information you have been given, make the appropriate phone calls and come to your best decision. On the (rare, hopefully) occasion you have to cancel an appointment time, as long as it is done in a timely fashion, the repercussions are minimal to none and you can rest in the fact that you are giving 100% to booking the other job.