Vocational training. Yes, you heard me…vocational training. Here is another one: apprenticeship. There are lots of ways to say, or discuss, education…but at the end of the day when it comes to ALL forms of knowledge you are either an intellectual who simply discusses things…or you have UNDERSTANDING…which means you’ve experienced them. One of the hardest, and most painful elements of our careers as performers in Hollywood is trying to UNDERSTAND…casting.Well, here is an option, cast something. Or at least, for the love of God, ask a friend who is a student filmmaker, doing a Web series, or an Ultra Low-Budget SAG project…to SIT IN on their casting sessions. You see, until you begin to truly understand all of the factors that come into play when actually making that FINAL decision on who is to be cast, you’ll always be left with “…but I was good.” I agree, you probably were, but that often has squat to do with casting. So here is a way moving forward in your life to break it down for you in your mind, which should then drift back to your sub conscience and eventually the deep recesses of your unconscious mind. Let us pretend that in every casting session, ever held, that there is ONE actor who clearly stands out (in art mind you) as the most talented. Or if it makes you feel better ONE for each role. We’ll give them a 10 score.
So you now are the Casting person, and you have to decide WHO gets the role. So then you mix in their type, look, height, weight, facial structure, hair and eye color, the timber of their voice, the innate rhythm with which they speak, not to mention general chemistry perhaps with others or their co-star, maybe the series regular cast or feature film stars, then there is genre, the era or time period the project is being shot, whether it is based in a city or rural along with other such things as maybe skills associated with the role or just an odd natural essence or ease with which you feel…fits the part. And every single time you start to “consider” ANY of these (and many more by the way) into your casting decision, that 10 starts to get pulled down to maybe a 6 or 7 or 8, and maybe someone who was a 7 or 8 (not a 2) on the talent scale in your MIND…goes up to a 9 because of all these other elements and many more presented here today. Well, there you go, that is casting.
We live our lives in Hollywood constantly angry at Casting Directors because we “can’t get in.” Even the so called “Pay for play” workshop construct doesn’t allow everyone in their doors and even for all of the monies spent by actors whom are let in the door, it doesn’t guarantee…a thing. Stop being angry, if you might be a little, or just frustrated because the bottom line is, it isn’t going to change. The people in casting, the middle man, has a job to do and it is to FILTER possibilities, period. They may have some influence within the confines of the casting session but that is a “whole other Oprah” as I like to say.
At the end of the day you either KNOW the executive staff in some way and have an “in” or you/we are bound by the casting process system. So then it comes down to “no taxation without representation” (in honor of today being Independence Day), but that isn’t a solution because there are thousands upon thousands of actors who have representation…but it does not guarantee any access to shows. Additionally having a good RESUME does not guarantee you auditions (trust me on this one). Aside from literally about 2-4 dozens actors (maybe less) IN THE WORLD…who can do whatever role, at any time they’d like, ALL actors are subject to the casting scrutiny. You don’t think there are stars who “hear about” a Pilot or a Feature script who WANT to do it, but the Director, Studio or Network says “uh yeah, no, they’re not right for it.” WTF? Happens all the time.
Everything is considered and yes, there are tons of bummer reasons why 95% of actors everyday are “not considered” for roles, but focusing on those is not going to help you. What I recommend you focus on is “being the solution.” BE THE SOLUTION. Opportunities are harder and harder to get in Hollywood. What you have to do with your CRAFT, is go into those rooms, and absolutely knock their socks off. I don’t care if it is for one line, that is your JOB. Beyond that, if you want a guarantee, be a CPA…because you can’t do DEATH every year…but your Taxes are certainly due. Make a fan, be a solution. Casting Directors, Associates and Assistants WANT you to be FABULOUS. They WANT their producer or director to be “stuck” trying to figure out who to cast because they have 3 choices that just are perfect. When you get into the MINDS of casting, and realize they have a limited number of “audition times” to PROVE their value as a Casting person, then you’ll realize how much they’re on your side.
I understand why we see them as the enemy sometimes, but at the end of the day, when you are IN the room as an actor (not all of the other discussions about their job description etc) they WANT and NEED you to be good. And even if you are, remember that choosing to hire YOU on this occasion, in this role, on this show, or this film…isn’t the same as getting together with some friends to do an Improv show or a play. So go “sit in” on a casting session, and truly make your own notes…on who you would have cast. Then compare to WHO they cast, and try to understand (not judge) the REASONS why they chose someone else. You might not agree with them on every role, and you probably shouldn’t, but always remember that the actor YOU would have cast then means that “other actor who did a really good job” didn’t get hired…by you.
Someone is always going to be left out, the question really is, how many people out there in Hollywood in the MIND of casting…think you’re worth a limited time slot to give a shot to? When you increase those numbers…you become a working actor.
Always on your side, Kevin E.
Follow Kevin on Twitter: @thekevine