Getting to Yes

Nov 15, 2009 by     No Comments    Posted under: Acting Tips, Attitude, Thousands of Stories


Actors > Jobs = those with power to give jobs need to narrow down supply

It’s pretty obvious that there are far more actors than there are jobs for them. What this means is that Casting Directors (or anyone with power to give actors a job) must find a way to narrow down their options…by a lot (a recent commercial casting director said she gets 1,000 – 2,500 submissions…per role). The easiest way to do this, is to find reasons to say no. Here is a list of reasons a CD might say no. Remember, they could say no because even one of the things on the list.

  • You’re too tall
  • You’re too short
  • Your hair is curly
  • Your hair is straight
  • You don’t have enough stuff on your resume
  • Your headshot isn’t good
  • You look like their ex
  • You don’t have any theatre experience
  • Your voicemail message is too long
  • Your phone number was hard to find
  • Your email address was weird so they typed it in wrong/gave up
  • You smell weird
  • You showed up late
  • You seemed over-eager
  • They just didn’t like you
  • You show your gums when you smile (heard a CD talk about a client who refused to see anyone who did this)
  • You’re in SAG
  • You’re not currently taking classes
  • You’re not in SAG
  • Your hair is purple
  • You don’t have enough acne
  • You’re too pretty

You get my point. Many of these things are totally random that you have no control over. However, many of the things on that list are easily remedied, which is why I started my Sweat the Small Stuff Series (first post in series was on headshots and can be found here). Taking away as many reasons as possible for why someone might say no is crucial. So take control of the things you do have control over, and take away people’s ability to say no.

Getting to Yes

Now, instead of driving yourself crazy over why someone might say no, give them a reason to say yes. Oftentimes this is having just the right look that an agent/CD/whomever is looking for at that exact moment. But again, you don’t have a lot of control over this (besides having a great headshot).

So what’s a girl to do? Have a brilliant demo reel. All you need are 90 seconds – 2 minutes and 15 seconds of great foootage. Kevin E. West of The Actor’s Network says that if he could do it over again, rather than spend the first 18 months in L.A. putting together showcases, doing 20 student films, etc. he would get the right people together to make 2 minutes or less of truly exceptional footage. You can’t walk through a Ralph’s without tripping over a phenomenal DP who would shoot it for you. There are people like that all over the city. Find them. Be in control of your own destiny.

If an agent/manager/casting director sees a couple minutes of brilliant acting, professionally shot, lit, and edited together, then all those other minute reasons to say no won’t matter. They won’t have a choice but to say yes.

Ben Whitehair is the Los Angeles contingent of this blog. Find out more information and view his materials on his website, or read the rest of his blog posts.