Complained About Your Agent Lately? Okay, if you haven't actually said it out loud, is there a little voice inside you blaming your agent for your lack of career? Do you even have an agent?
Let's be honest, with movie stars taking over series regular roles in television, you have to be pretty grateful if you can be a working actor these days. Good News: your career is in YOUR hands. Not your agent’s! You just have to be proactive. No two ways around it. You must do your part to get in front of casting directors. "How do I do that if my agent's not getting me any auditions?" you ask. Workshops! Yes, Casting Director Workshops.
Casting Director Workshops are beneficial for many reasons.
1. You get to hear first hand...
• what they are working on
• what they do and don't like actors to do in auditions
• how their office works
• how they like to be kept in touch with
• if they bring in unrepresented actors
• if they bring in non-union talent
• if they take self-taped auditions
2. You get the ongoing practice of getting sides and performing semi-cold reads, which hones your craft even more because you...
• Make character choices
• Absorb dialogue as quickly as possible
• Work off other actors
• Get feedback and sometimes re-direct and then even more feedback
• Get to see the choices that other actors make
And, most importantly:
3. You get to MEET, READ FOR, AND BE SEEN BY CD’s! I suppose I should clarify, when I say, "CD's" I mean, Casting Directors, Casting Associates and Casting Assistants. If that little voice is screeching, "Why would I want to read for an Associate or Assistant?" There are a few reasons why:
• Today's Assistant is tomorrow's Associate.
• Today's Associate is tomorrow's CD.
• Many Associates and Assistants are responsible for making suggestions, taking pitches and/or scheduling the co-stars and guest-stars.
In addition to Workshops, some facilities also provide One-On-One's and Showcases. In One-On-One's you get to prepare a two minute scene of your choice, perform it for the Casting Director and have a few minutes to chat and ask questions after. Showcases provide you the opportunity to read for 3-6 CD’s or 3-6 Agents at one time generally followed by a Q&A with the guests.
If you don’t have an agent or aren’t union yet, should you still attend Workshops/One-On-One’s/Showcases? YES! Many CD's say that they keep files of nothing but Workshop actors and don’t care if an actor is unrepresented or non-union. I've heard one CD say their office tries to hire one Workshop actor every episode. Others say they bring in Workshop actors for all their co-stars. And yet, others say they've brought in workshop actors for smaller roles and they frequently end up with larger roles because they are so good.
A few helpful pointers when attending Workshops/One-On-One's/Showcases:
1. Be on time.
2. If you have a prepared scene - be prepared! Treat it like an audition.
3. If the guest casts dramas, it's okay to do a comedy scene (in fact it's often welcomed!)
4. During the Q&A, don't ask questions just to engage in conversation with them. I promise, if you are good, they will remember you. If you ask how they got into casting or ask where they're from, it's not going to give you any edge over someone didn't ask those (or any) questions.
5. When/if given re-direct, DON'T explain why you made the choice you did. Take the direction and apply it!
6. Make choices!!!
You should know that NOT ALL CASTING DIRECTOR WORKSHOPS ARE THE SAME. Many don’t require you to audition before you sign up. If I was going to pay my hard-earned money for a workshop and I got stuck with a not-so-great partner, I’d be…well, pissed!
The place I attend, The Casting Network, has always had an audition/screening process since it opened its doors in 1989. (Never a membership fee or monthly fee.) With overwhelming consistency, CD’s praise The Casting Network for the quality and caliber of the actors they meet at TCN.
Let me be very clear, CD Workshops are NOT an audition nor do they represent any guarantee of employment. As advertised, they are educational experiences. Can they lead to work? Absolutely.
Why should you listen to what I have to say?
I'm an actor who has gotten over three dozen roles (mostly network TV shows) from attending Casting Director Workshops at The Casting Network. Yes, I've almost always had an agent and/or manager, but I still choose to pursue acting work on my own because I know I'm responsible for my own career.
In fact, The Casting Network has been so great for me, I decided to purchase the business this last November. Since then, I’ve lowered the prices, added the One-On-One’s, special guest Directors, One Day Intensives with amazing acting coaches, and Free Industry Insider Sessions with various successful Actors/Directors/Writers/Producers/Show Runners.
I empower myself and I want you to empower yourself.
So fellow actors, be like Nike, "Just Do It!" Take workshops, be proactive and stop making excuses. As I've heard so many Casting Directors, Agents and Managers say, "You are the CEO of your own company. Don't neglect the "business" part of show business. It is a business.
By René Ashton