A Pass on Passing

This week: “The road you didn’t take hardly comes to mind… does it?”

My recent auditions-by-appointment for the Barter Theatre were a cause for celebration and sad reflection. The reason for this double-edged casting sword? George W. Bush.

For the first time, ever since I began casting nearly two decades ago, not one actor passed on an audition-by-appointment for lack of interest. None. Nada. Zip. I’ve been involved with casting for Broadway, major film studios, television projects and regional theater and always the actor pass rate averages 1 to 2 percent per project. Actors pass on the opportunity to audition for reasons ranging from; they didn’t want to work, didn’t like the project or they were just being flakes. The latter a far too common ailment within this business (on either side of the table).

So here I was. Finally having all appointments called out and given a one hundred percent confirm rate by agents. I wish I could celebrate. But how can one celebrate desperation brought upon by what I refer to our present economy as the Bush Legacy.

I find it sad that fear has caused actors to do their job. Accept auditions for which they are available. The offer of potential work being passed upon by actors has always pissed me off. I never understood the mentality. Especially among the represented thespian set who pass on an opportunity that may bring new career connections, an additional credit on the resume, exposure and oh… yes, a paycheck.

When actors in the past would pass on a paying project of mine I took it personally (I’ve been accused of being too sensitive and if you tell anyone, I’ll slap you silly).  But yes, I’ve been dejected for being rejected. I soon got over myself. I wasn’t being rejected. The passing, available actors were refusing an opportunity by being short-sighted, lazy or both. They were hurting their careers, not mine. And while I no longer take passes personal I won’t deny that I do get a bit of “I-told-you-so” satisfaction when I run into an unemployed actor who passed on one of my projects that is either in rehearsal or production when our run-in happens.

Karma and a gay man can both be bitches.

To those not represented who read this blog, all this may seem unbelievable that actors pass on opportunities of paid employment within their chosen profession (and by paid, I mean a living wage). I thought so too when I was an actor. But it happens. Often. And more so as actors believe themselves to be a bigger name than they really are within the industry. Now those same big-headed actors are begging to take regional theater or day player jobs. Just goes to show that survival will make one do the most sensible of choices.

I’m delighted that no one passed on the recent appointments. I’m not at all thrilled that George W. Bush and Wall Street brought reason to what should be normal; actors willing to accept opportunities for employment. Maybe my father, a devout Republican actually is right in being Right. Oh good God no. Next!

Post Script: I cursed myself. Damn it. After years at this game of entertainment I know better than to announce or write about anything  until final curtain or paycheck; whichever comes first.

I wrote the above blog weeks ago, the weekend prior to going into auditions. On my voice mail the night before the auditions were messages that three actors canceled their confirmed appointments. Each, through their individual representation, gave the same reason for backing out at the last minute; they wanted to stay in town (i.e. NY) for potential projects that may come up. Really?! In the dead of summer? The most activity in July and August in a NY casting office is an intern taking an hour to open five actor submissions (interns seem to loose all cogitative skills when challenged with opening actor mail).

O.K. let’s look past my being peeved at being left with three holes in my schedule. Those three coveted slots (competition and time was tight) could have gone to three actors I had on my hold list.  But the passes came too late. At this moment there could be an unemployed actor out there who could have been seen in one of those slots and who aced the audition and would now have gainful employment for the next few months (plus health insurance weeks). To that unknown, thank your passing, procrastinating  peers for an opportunity lost.

So, the record remains unbroken. Hundreds upon hundreds of projects I’ve cast from film to TV to Broadway to regional theater and not one of those projects went without at least one person passing. Grrrrrrrr.

Actors desperate for work? Ha! I sometimes muse if that’s a myth.

[The LAST July One-on-One Career & Audition Technique Coaching begins this week. Get it before someone else does @ Classes.]

My Best,

Paul
Paul Russell Casting
SDC Director | Author, ACTING: Make It Your Business
http://www.PaulRussell.net

 

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The Cardinal Sin of Auditioning

This week:  Deceitful Actors Who Falsely Audition

Recently as I was sitting in my partner’s office (the talent agency owner) I overheard one side of a heated phone conversation between one of the agents and a client.

“If you go in for Tara Rubin for this audition, just to be seen, without any intent on accepting an offer for the national tour of Young Frankenstein should it come your way…” was how the conversation began as the agent’s temporal veins began to pulse. I knew where this was going. And it wouldn’t be pretty.

Here was an actor, with solid representation, at a better agency, who’d been given an offer for a job in New York which would conflict with the Young Frankenstein national tour. Because he had an offer on hand which was not finalized on paper, auditioning for other projects is the norm in the industry. What is not the appropriate norm was what he wanted to do. He was telling his agent, someone in the business long before said actor was in diapers, that if he got an offer from the Young Frankenstein audition, he would pass. I.e. flip off the offer and creative team. His sole desire to go in for one of the hottest casting offices in New York was that he wanted to use the audition to remind Tara Rubin that he existed.

W.T.F! Excuse me????!!!!!

As the conversation to my left continued, the agent’s pulsating temples were joined in rhythm by her click-clack tapping of manicured finger nails upon the frosted glass of her desk top. I looked to her boss, my partner. He informed me that the actor on the phone was the same young man who came into an audition for me over a year ago, got an offer from my office and client and then passed. He passed because he never wanted the job. He auditioned only because he had yet to be seen by me. He did THIS to a casting director who also was the life-partner to the agent that represented him! (Can anyone say Gaul? Stupidity? Walking selfish-arrogant-anal opening?!)

My partner and I were both supremely peeved. Despite the actor’s foible of giving what basically was a fictitious audition (because he held no truth to professionalism) this “actor” wasn’t dropped. His punishment to date? I refuse to call him in for anything again. Ever.

Never. Repeat. Never. Ever do you as an actor, a professional, go to an audition knowing that you will not accept an offer should you be so lucky as to receive one. As I wrote extensively on this subject in ACTING: Make It Your Business far too many times do actors and academics of the profession live by or impart unto others the mis-informed, moronic mantra, “You should audition for anything and everything even if you’re not right for a role, not available for, or dis-interested in the project being cast.” If you’re not; interested, right for a role or project available, DO NOT AUDITION! Got it?!

You’re wasting the time of your fellow actors who DO want the job and are appropriate for the role(s) being cast. By being false with your audition intent you’re wasting the valuable time and money of the creative personnel who are seeking performers who want immediate employment. Plus, you’re pissing off your peers and the people who hire. Actors and acting academics who believe in the “audition for anything and everything” fable can argue with me and my casting colleagues, talent reps., producers and directors against our professional opinion until they and their tenured professors enroll for the grave. Fine. But you and they should know this: Participate in the foolish, selfish, unprofessional behavior and an early grave is where your career journey prematurely comes to an end with those you practice upon this folly.

You may be thinking…, “How would the casting people, directors or producers know I was auditioning for a project that I had no intent on taking the job if offered?” Hmmmm. Deceit can not hide forever.

In ACTING: Make It Your Business I wrote of an incident in which one rude, selfish, arrogant, asinine actress who auditioned for one of my projects knew going into the audition studio that she would not take the job if offered. What happened? How I knew? What became of her? And what happened when I ran into her afterward…? Well for those who have read that story… you know. And hopefully you’ve learned from her error.

My best,
Paul

AMIYB_AmazonRead advice from legendary talent agents,
plus Hollywood & Broadway actors in Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

 

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 writes a column for Back Stage and 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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