A $10 to $15 gift-card as a “Thank You for Seeing Me” must be sent by every actor to each director, casting director and talent representative after that actor has been granted each audition opportunity by the entertainment industry gate-keepers.
Your forehead just creased like corduroy having read that absurdity.
There’s a New York acting teacher who has been advising this costly and hollow advisory to actors. I received a distressing e-mail from the mother of an actress who was terribly led astray by the acting teacher:
I just finished reading your book ACTING: Make it Your Business… You had suggested that thank yous should always be sent after auditions.
My daughter has been taking one-on-one acting lessons with a teacher in NY. He suggested that when we go to auditions, or to those paid sessions where we are seen by agents/casting directors, we send thank you comp cards with a short note from her, as well as a Starbucks gift card ($10-15).
1) Do you think this is appropriate? I am not sure how this ‘gift’ might be interpreted.
2) How far out can we wait to send them? Is 3-4 weeks reasonable?
Thank you for your help. B.
My anger dictated a response:
Handwritten thank you cards via Hallmark or Papyrus stationary are always welcomed (and in this digital revolution…rare); especially if the handwritten note includes a personal message relating to the audition/auditor thanking the professional for advice/response or an action you and your daughter deeply appreciated. A thank you card is most effective when sent within twenty-four hours of the audition/meeting while the just-passed moment remains relevant to both the sender and receiver.
As to the Starbucks gift card…the teacher who suggested such may be imposing his desire for getting his daily caffeine intake gratis via actors.
Gifts of appreciation accompanying a handwritten missive are only warranted when the situation calls for such as when a director, casting director and/or agent assists an actor booking a job, or the employment provider went above and beyond the normal bounds of duty.
When ‘gifts’ are given by actors to auditors for the auditors just being corporeal in the room no bribe is going to move a true professional to recognize an actor more. And ‘bribe’ is how an unwarranted thank you gift is viewed by my above-board colleagues. You may want to question what other advice the gratis coffee seeking teacher of our trade has misdirected you. I’m dismayed that a professional would dispense the costly and ineffective marketing ploy that benefits the receiver far beyond what it does for the sender.
Thank You Note Tips:
- A handwritten thank you is most effective when personalized with an anecdotal reference
- Send a thank you for the occasion(s) in which you and the person(s) met had a sincere connection professionally and/or personally that you truly cherished or was of great benefit to you
- Avoid the costly and time wasting thank yous after each open call and/or EPA attended in which there was no engagement beyond the requisite professional courtesy between yourself and the personnel behind the table. Open call thanks yous are best to be sent when the audition conversation led to a call-back and/or a one-on-one exchange that changed your professional and/or life outlook
- If a gift is included the thought behind the accompanying gift should be heartfelt and not viewed as a tax deduction to be later labeled in April as ‘business expense.’
Handwritten thank you cards are always welcomed when the thought behind the sender’s intent is of sincere gratitude, and not a marketing ploy. Bring heart and pen to a desk the next time you wish to say, “Thank you.”
Casting Directors, Talent Agents, Directors & Actors
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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.
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