Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Actors/Actresses: Tips For Submitting For Roles, Casting Calls, & Auditions

This Time has received over 800 submissions from actors and actresses throughout the country wanting to audition for the project. Me and my casting director Binti Lee have gone through several hundred headshots already and I must say I have seen it all from the good to the bad.  A lot of times people just don't know so after reading this post it is my hope that you will be better suited to submit yourself for projects with confidence. Even if we don't cast you in our projects I assume you are going to go on with your career and when you do I hope that we have provided some assistance to help you better submit in the future. 
Today I was going through several hundred actor submissions and I found it necessary to write a detailed blog about that process. I have tweeted my ass off about it before but I thought that it maybe more helpful to include all of that information in one place.  Like I have said many times before I am still very much up and coming in this industry and I do not claim to have all the answers or know all of the trade secrets but I will do my best to keep you informed from the things that I have personally learned in my couple of years in the industry. Also, throughout this post you will find examples of  headshots that industry professionals use to get work.

First and foremost if you want to be an actor/actress there are two things that I highly suggest you do.  The first is to take professional acting classes and hone your craft.  The second and most important thing is to take professional pictures.  Your headshot is your business card and it represents you out in the field.  If you fail to invest in yourself then why should a production company take a chance on you?

In regards to acting classes, that will be another post, but here I wanted to focus on your submissions.  There are different levels of actors, and with that said, there will be different levels of submissions.  Big name actors have agents and managers who do most of the grunt work for them and inform their clients for roles and projects that they think they would be a good fit for. Up and coming actors have to be more proactive in their process and usually have to seek out casting calls themselves.  For purposes of this blog I am going to assume that you all are up and coming actors and do not have representation.

There are several websites that you could visit to stay in loop for casting calls in your area. There is, LA, Actors Access, Central Casting, Craigslist, etc. Most don't charge a fee but I think a few of them do.  It's up to you to figure out if it is worth it or not as I don't endorse any of them one way or another. A lot of these casting sites allow you to check out local castings in your respective areas and allow you to submit online. Normally you have to submit a headshot and a resume and then they contact you if they are interested.

Like I always say, if you are serious about being an actor then you need to go where the projects are and that is normally NYC, LA, ATL and Toronto. Yes they film projects almost everywhere but most productions that film in cities other than the ones I have mentioned often times cast in one of these major areas and then move to those locations for filming.

Your headshot is your most valuable tool to get you work.  Professionalism is key.  Casting directors and producers want to know what you actually look like and if you have on heavy makeup and your picture is photoshopped to death then trust me you are setting yourself up for failure.  You should not be self conscious at all about how you look.  Productions like casting normal everyday looking people just as much as they like to casting drop dead gorgeous bombshells.  Use what works for you and never take it personal if they don't cast you.  A lot of times we have already in our minds what look we are going for and if you don't fit that look than why would we use you? 

You should set up a photo shoot with a professional photographer. Normally pictures range from $100 to thousands of dollars depending on the skill set of the photographer you choose to work with. Word of mouth is a great thing. Ask around and see who other actors who work a lot use for pictures and use them too.  You should get at least 3 looks done.  Normally it takes three different pictures to get an idea of what a person really looks like.  Everybody has that one angle where they look amazing, but again we're not looking for just amazing. We're looking to get an idea of who you really are and what you really look like.

Your hair and makeup should be minimal.  Natural is the key.  Producers and directors like to feel like they are working with a blank canvas and that they can upgrade you by changing your hairstyle or by adding makeup. It's easier to work forward than it is to work backwards so remember NATURAL! 

In your headshot you should always be facing the camera. ALWAYS. No side angles and definitely never have your back turned and face towards camera.  Most television shows, movies and commercials are filmed in medium and close up shots.  Your headshot should do the same. Some people look great smiling, some people look great not smiling.  You know your strengths. Use them.

Use basic colors in your pictures and nothing too over the top. Earth tones are best. You can choose to use a black and white headshot or a colored one.  I've seen both used and one doesn't have an advantage of the other unless they specify.  Keep two versions of each picture just to be on the safe side. Ladies, DO NOT submit bikini or lingerie shots unless they ask you to.  We know you worked hard for that body but leave something to the imagination, unless you want to be casted as pretty girl #1 at for the rest of your career.  You are the only person who is in total control of your image. The way you start will be the way you end. Be professional.

Never submit personal pictures. Use professional pictures only. This is the quickest way to not to be taken serious as an actor. And when you do submit for projects include at least three professional pictures. Sending one picture in doesn't give us a good idea of what you look like in real life. And please include your resume. We know you are up and coming so there may not be a lot to put down.  Be honest and do not make up anything. Hollywood is small and word gets around quick. Be honest with yourself and us and know that everyone had to start somewhere.

When going to castings in person, BE ON TIME. In this game on time is 15 minutes early and late is being on time.  You're going to be stressed enough, don't add to it. Wear comfortable clothes, but depending on the audition you may want to dress the part. I can't make this decision for you but I will say more often than not actors who take it to the next level stand out, in a good way. You have to realize than millions of people want this too, what are you going to do to make yourself unique?

Bring your headshot and resume with you to the casting. If you don't do this and I guarantee you will not get hired. It's about being a professional. Be nice to everyone. Nobody owes you anything and a lot of times the assistants opinions matter just as much as the casting directors. Be confident. Everyone is nervous in auditions. It how you deal with that nervousness that will separate you from other actors. Film and TV crews have hundreds of people on set at any given time all watching your performance. If you can't perform in front of a couple people then maybe you should look into another field because trust me it is only going to get worse.

Listen. Once you audition you may get notes and get asked to play the role a different way. This is to see how well you take direction. Make the most of it. Thank everyone for the opportunity to audition. It goes a long way. Then take a deep breath and move on to the next one.  You did all that you could do, no sense on worrying about it. If they want to hire you then they will be in touch. If they don't hire you then probably won't ever hear from them again.  Take nothing personal, it's just business

These are some tips I have for you guys when you submit for projects and you audition for projects. It is in no way meant to be a bible as to how to do it but it has been my experience with working with different casting directors on Girlfriends, The Game and Heroes that these things matter and do help.  Good luck with all of your future submissions and hopefully I'll see you on set.

Director: Cherry
"This Time I Want It All"


  1. Definitely definitely great tips. And I believe the tips you have provided are all around tips for ANY field. You HAVE to have your headshots if you want to be a CEO of a company or even if your company have a website and they need a picture placement of you.

    Being on time goes for everything to showcase professionalism.

    Thanks for the info and the pointers. You made a LOT of sense

  2. Very detailed and informative. It shows that you actually care at least. I have family members who aspire to be actors/actresses and this is great information to pass along.

  3. Thank you for sharing. Very good info. Eager to read your blog about acting classes. Happy Holidays!

  4. Great information for us. Have a safe and happy holiday season!!!

  5. Great information for us. When respond casting calls, take your time and make each email seem that it took time and effort before you press send on your computer screen. Avoid sending obvious generic emails. Casting directors must filter through thousands of head-shots and resumes everyday, and by submitting your information to something that does not apply to you just makes their job more difficult. Thus, probably less likely to hire you in the future.