HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
I went to an audition one day, and this particular casting office is always very organized, very professional.
Something happened that day that put them behind schedule. I'm not sure what.
I knew that was abnormal for them.
My audition time was at 12:00PM or 12:30PM, and I didn't leave until 6:00PM that night.
Luckily my schedule was clear so I could just relax, talk to some other actor friends that came by, and get some brownie points with that casting office.
I thought, "They're already stressed out about something. I don't want to add to that stress. I can chill out today, so I'm gonna do that."
However, there was a teenage girl there that was not happy about the situation.
There was another (established) actor volunteering as a casting assistant that day. I know for a fact they have worked with at least one A-list celebrity on a movie.
This teenage girl was waiting to audition, and she went off the deep end on the casting assistant. Literally snapped them over.
She didn't get up and go speak to them quietly or privately.
She started loudly saying in front of everyone in the casting office things like, "This is totally unprofessional," which is not true about that casting office.
"I feel so disrespected."
She was like 15 by the way.
"Who do I need to talk to about this? You need to get me into that next audition."
This girl had a commute. She was coming from a different city and needed to get back, which she made very clear to everyone in the lobby.
Well, they handled it very well. The casting assistant/actor went into the audition room privately.
I don't know what was said, but they came out and just really nicely replied, "You're gonna be in the next one. Sorry about that."
So she went in, did her audition, came out, and I went in next.
Well my group ended up being the last group.
She literally could have just waited one more slot without showing her butt, and it wouldn't have been a big deal issue.
She wouldn't have shot herself in the foot.
In this post we're gonna talk about casting office do's and don'ts, including how to properly handle this same situation, so you know what to expect at an audition.
WHAT TO DO IF THEY'RE BEHIND SCHEDULE
First, I wanna tell you how another actor friend of mine handled this situation because he did it correctly.
This is the primary casting office etiquette that I want you to learn, but we have a few more after this.
When my actor friend arrived I said, "FYI I've been here for like an hour. I think something's happening. I'm not really sure what, but they're running behind just so you know."
He had to be at work, and had a little bit of a commute.
This actor did the appropriate thing--which is what I want you to do in the future if this ever happens--and called his agent.
You can simply say, "They're running a little behind today. I really need to get to work. Can you get me into my original time slot?"
His agent called and got him into the next audition slot.
That was the appropriate way to handle that situation.
So please, especially if you're a new actor and you haven't been in a casting office that much, just know that is what you need to do.
The other thing I want to point out is that I did not recognize this girl that showed out in the casting office.
She's not somebody that's really been in anything from what I could tell.
Even if she was a known actor, I mean...I'm doubting that would even be...it's not good etiquette!
That's all I'm gonna say about that.
Alright, so let's dig into some other tips.
I've gotten good feedback from casting, so I want you guys to hear these.
If you've ever caught yourself thinking, "What should I expect when I go to the casting office?" then this post is for you.
Nobody really told me when I first started.
Actually, I did an audition boot camp that let me know what to do in the audition,
but there's etiquette for the actual casting office so let's look at these tips.
WHAT TIME TO ARRIVE
This one's pretty obvious, especially if you're a theater kid, but just in case.
On time is late. Ten minutes early is on time.
Anything earlier than 10 minutes is a little bit of a nuisance, especially if they have large groups of people coming in for a casting call that day.
So try to be 10 minutes early.
If you know you're gonna go to the bathroom, maybe go in just a little bit before the ten-minute mark to use the bathroom first.
Do whatever primping and potty time you need to do before you sign in on the sheet.
Let the casting assistant know at the front, "Hey I need to run in the bathroom before I sign in. I'll be right back."
You don't want someone to call for you only to find out you're in the bathroom and not actually ready. But you should have a little time if you get there early.
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HOW TO INTERACT WITH THE FRONT DESK
I want you to start thinking of yourself as a business.
Don't you feel special when your favorite business knows you? Recognizes you? Learns your name?
Next, I want you to learn the casting assistant's name.
They already know your name so it feels kind of weird, but you guys haven't officially been introduced yet.
So I just want you to say--it's gonna feel awkward, it's okay--while you're signing in, "Hey we haven't met yet. I'm Spurgeon," and they'll say, "I'm Stacy."
You can also just straight up say, "Hey I'm Spurgeon. We haven't met yet. What's your name?"
They'll tell you. It's human nature.
(If for some reason they don't tell you and give you the cold shoulder, don't take it personally. Just go with the flow. Smile and walk away.)
Then I want you to repeat their name. "Hey Stacy. Nice to meet you."
That's gonna help you get it locked into your brain.
I want you to say it again when you leave. "Bye Stacy. Have a good day."
Now the next time you see them at an audition, say hello to them by name. Don't wait until the third time you see them to ask about their name again.
So at your very next audition with them say, "Hey, it's Stacy right?"
They know that you guys only met once. You can remind them of your name, too.
They probably know who you are coming in based on the roster, but you can always say, "Hey it's Stacy, right? We met last time. I'm Spurgeon."
As you start to know them better, ask questions.
Make simple small talk. (Whisper in the lobby. That's another big thing.)
Maybe there's construction going nearby, so you could ask, "Hey do you know what's up with this construction over here?"
Just some simple chitchat.
You may start learning things about them that you can follow up on when you go into the office in the future.
Basically, be nice to your casting assistants. Learn their names. Learn things about them.
You don't have to ask 20 questions. Just chitchat a little bit if the lobby isn't slammed that day.
USE CONFIDENT LANGUAGE
This one's really good, but I can't remember the first person that gave me this idea.
I read in an article somewhere I think. If you're that person, please let me know so I can credit you.
Say "thank you" instead of "sorry."
Let me explain.
I always leave really early and just float around the area for my auditions so that I'm not late because I have a commute.
I'm not in the habit of being late, but one day I got caught by a train.
Actually, I got caught in traffic behind a wreck that had me running behind even though I left an hour early, then I got caught by a train.
So I let my agent know, "Hey I'm coming in hot to my three o'clock at this casting office."
(Be sure to contact your agent and let them know specifics if you're running late btw.)
Let them know the time that you're supposed to audition and where that is so they can contact casting because otherwise if you're like, "I'm running late," they're gonna be like, "To what?"
They've got other stuff happening, so give them the specifics they need so they can let casting know.
When I got to the casting office I wasn't like, "So sorry I'm late yada yada! Excuses excuses!" I just walked in and said, "I got caught by a train. Thanks for waiting on me."
Apology verses saying thank you.
This type of language really puts you in a stronger position.
Let's look at an example during an audition.
Maybe you drop a line. Instead of saying, "Sorry," I want you to say, "I'm dropping the lines. I would like to start over. Thanks for being patient."
You are gonna look like a pro and really confident and like you have control of the room which they want you to have.
Nobody wants to babysit you, so take control of the room. If you do it by saying thank you, that's gonna make everyone feel more at ease.
You knew when you decided to be an actor that meant learning lines, right?
It's like a thing we do.
This seems obvious, but for the love of God know your lines.
Sometimes you can hear other auditions happening, and people don't know their lines...
We need to know lines, and be comfortable learning them on the fly!
Let me tell you about my first professional job.
My first gig was an industrial for a friend who really needed a favor because she cast another friend that did not show.
They needed somebody else to come in last minute. She knew I had a theatre degree so she said, "Hey I know she can learn lines. Let's just throw her on camera."
I showed up nervous because I needed to make her look good, and I had never done an industrial before this.
You know those industrials have really crazy words that you don't say in normal life, and you need to say them word-for-word because of legal issues!
The guy that owned the production company was supervising.
Sometimes we would get the note, "Hey you two just totally swap those two parts," and they were like full paragraphs.
Sometimes they were two or three paragraphs full of lines--for an industrial! No teleprompter!
I know you feel my pain if you've done one.
I was so nervous because this was my first professional booking, I didn't want to embarrass myself, I wanted to get booked again, and I really didn't want to embarrass my friend.
I just thought, "Oh God help me."
I went over to the side, ignored everyone, and I just started saying the lines out loud over-and-over again until they called me to set.
I thought, "Alright let's find out. We'll see what happens," and then I'd say all the lines and smile.
Then I would ask, "What'd I just say?" And they replied, "Word-for-word. Sweet. Let's move on to the next one."
Let me tell you something.
I have way more confidence that I can handle it if I get lines last minute or if a script gets changed on me, which is probably going to happen to you at some point, so I want you to feel that confidence.
I feel really confident if that's a dialogue where I can work off of somebody else because I've now had to do it straight to camera with a bunch of abnormal lines without chit-chatting with anyone.
Please, please get into the habit of memorizing lines. Please, please don't make excuses when you need to learn lines in the casting office.
If you need to do this as a daily habit, which is something I suggest as a daily habit for actors, then just start learning random lines or paragraphs from books or non-fiction publications.
Then test yourself by delivering those lines to the camera. Just use your phone. No one will see it.
Make sure you know your lines, and do whatever you need to make that process easier on yourself.
Get confident at doing that because let me tell you something if you show up and you're like, "Oh I just got this last minute. I don't my lines," and some other actor busts up in there like, "Give me those lines!" they will get all of the good attention.
I want you to be the actor that gets good attention.
I'm telling you some other actor's gonna come in behind you, not make any excuses, and just be on it!
So decide today that you'll be that actor.
HOW TO EXIT THE ROOM
There's always this little bit of weird silence when you leave a casting that's in-between them saying thank you and you leaving.
Don't be weird when you exit.
Sometimes the silence is gonna be there. That's okay.
Be prepared to say, "Okay thanks guys. I appreciate it. Have a good day."
I seriously want you to practice this.
Open the door. Leave. Just don't look back. Don't linger.
Say something normal like, "Ok bye thanks have a good day." Great. Done.
WHAT TO SAY ABOUT YOURSELF
Lastly, if you're asked about yourself, you want to have something solid to say.
If you are part of an MLM, don't say anything about that. You're not a such-and-such representative, okay?
We're not getting into that.
I want you to answer in a way that is going to move the conversation forward and make you look cool to the director.
If you look cool to the director, you will look cool to the casting director, and it makes casting look good as if they have cool actors that will be cool on set.
Talk about something you like to do or a place you like to go.
I'll share an example that I still need to use.
My husband and I did an escape room as a date night recently, and it was freaking awesome.
We loved it. I loved it. I mean he liked it, too, but I really loved it. So now I'm a little obsessed.
Director: "What's something you like to do for fun?"
Me: Escape rooms.
Director: What do you like about them?
Me: "I was involved with this competition in high school called Future Problem Solving. Escape rooms are kind of like a live-action version of Future Problem Solving."
Director: "What is Future Problem Solving?"
Me: "It's a booklet competition where a team gets presented with futuristic problems that could potentially happen in the world, so we had to brainstorm the toughest challenge and then come up with the best solution."
That's a pretty cool thing. Like the more I think about it, I wish we had grown-up Future Problem Solving teams.
But it's not something most people know about me, and it's something very different that I'm doubting they've heard every other actor say that day.
When they ask you questions that aren't acting related, they want to know things about you that aren't acting related.
So what is that for you?
I'm telling you, I know that I got put on the right of first refusal just from talking to a director about the fact that my husband and I flipped a house on a farm.
He was very intrigued, and it somewhat related to the audition because it was for an outdoorsy tourist commercial, and we had to do work outdoors because we had acreage.
Try to relate your answers to whatever the audition is about if you can.
Seriously, sit down and brainstorm a list of hobbies and favorite places in your phone so you can scan that list before you go into an audition in case you get asked about yourself.
HOW TO MAKE CASTING LOOK GOOD
I wanted to share these with you because I've gotten good feedback from casting, and I want you to get good feedback.
We need to remember that the casting director works for the client--the company or the studio that hired them to find actors--meaning they need to look professional to that client.
I left an audition one day, and the casting director stopped me and said, "Spurgeon I just want you to know we are very thankful for you because we know you're gonna show up, you're gonna be prepared, and you make us look good."
That means if you're an actor that shows up as a professional, then casting will be more likely to call you in for auditions because they know they're gonna have an actor that has their crap together, and I want that actor to be you.
Just do these very simple things that actually have nothing to do with how talented you are so you can build a good reputation for yourself.
This is a business. If you run yourself as a business, production companies will be more inclined to do business with you.
Did one of these tips catch your attention more than the others? Please comment to let me know if you learned something. I love the feedback!
Listen, it's easy to know this info, it's another to actually do it. It just takes time. I still leave auditions realizing I haven't applied one of these tips, so give yourself some grace.
Next time we're gonna talk about how you can be an actor that your talent agent freaking loves and how to interact with your agency.
I hear a lot of actors get upset about a lack of communication from their agent, so let's make sure you're communicating at your best.
If you know any other actors that need this information please feel free to share this post on social.
I'd also love to hear your suggestions for blog topics. Let me know!
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If you continue to ignore the business and marketing side of acting, it won't just go away. Your personal brand is the foundation of your acting business. Start building your personal brand package today. Read my post Personal Branding Brainstorm for Actors to learn more.