My good friend Rob recently thanked me for my quick e-mail response and for my searchability on the web. I accepted his compliment with gratitude (because he’s a brilliant human being AND hires me, two qualities I like in a person) and then I asked why this was on his mind.
Rob Hartmann casts paid music theatre projects for student composer/lyricists and recently had a Very Talented Young Man (I’ll call him VTYM) give a great audition. When presented with several projects for which VTYM would be right, he pitched him to the composer/lyricist teams. Well, there once was a time when the recommendation would be the end of it, but now even students want to see clips of potential cast members singing on YouTube or Vimeo.
So, my pal jumped on the web to find something that he could forward to the team for their consideration.
VTYM had zero web presence. No clips. No website. Nothing.
There were other guys of VTYM’s type who did have a web presence that the writers preferred. One of those other guys got the job.
VTYM missed out on a few hundred dollars worth of work with some amazingly talented up-and-comers.
Savvy Actors, it is time to break free of the mindset that Casting Directors are judgmental gatekeepers, gleefully preventing you from achieving your dreams because they settled on theirs.
Michael Cassara has dedicated himself to new music theatre work through the New York Music Theatre Festival and spearheaded an online audition sign-up system for non-union actors. Even Equity has yet to get their act together on that one.
Liz Ortiz-Mackes of Casting Solutions is dedicated to non-traditional casting, especially when it comes to actors of mixed abilities, even founding her own production company, I Ain’t Playin’ Films. She turns down projects when the producers are not planning to pay the actors.
Casting Directors are passionate connectors, dedicated artists, and work so hard they might as well be juggling flaming kittens.
Rob phrased his own priorities this way, ” I love actors and want to connect them to writers. It is a special type of acting professional who has the right attitude for participating in the creation of new work – people who understand their craft and understand that this work is furthering the growth of the art form for al of us. It’s holy work, really. I want people to find you.”
So, Savvy Actors, allow yourselves to be found.
First and foremost, you need a website. It doesn’t need to have 3-D Graphics and scratch-n-sniff options. Just simple clear navigation, branded appropriately for you, with your picture, updated credits and news, contact information, and clips that showcase your delicious work.
In this day and age, most people would not choose a veterinarian, auto repair shop, or restaurant if they did not have a web presence. Well, it’s now the same for actors. My director pal Brandon Ivie said, “If a character in a new musical needs to sound like Elphaba from WICKED, its just as easy for me to look at someone’s resume as it is to look them up on YouTube where I get a better sense of what they actually perform like.”
Even better, this is a service to us actors because it gets “typing out” out of the way and our potential clients who do ask us to tromp on down to the audition room are already excited about us.
Voice actors, get your audio clips up there.
Movie actors, get your reel and specific film clips up there.
Singers, volunteer to sing at benefits and get someone to tape it. Get that clip up there.
Make sure every clip is labeled with your name so they’re all easily searchable on the web.
I’m not even getting into Facebook, LinkedIn, Voice123, or YouTube because we all have lives to lead.
But I close with this: please, help your fellow casting artists by responding to them promptly. It boggles the mind how many actors do not get back to my friend in a timely manner EVEN WHEN PAID WORK IS BEING OFFERED.
Even if an actor is not sure whether they are going to take the work, just a quick “got your e-mail, have to check my schedule” would suffice. Rob mentioned people who get back to his offer a week later with a variation on “Sorry, I got so busy, I couldn’t get around to your e-mail.”
He was not some unknown quantity. These were all people who had auditioned for him in the past.
Choose to be the courteous business professional you expect your Casting Directors and Agents to be. Respond to them promptly and make it easy for them to find you. They’re on your side and they have the distinct honor of bringing your great work into the world.
By the way, Rob Hartmann is a brilliant composer and you should proceed immediately to his website to experience his musical flair. That is all