Don’t Call Us. We’ll Call You. (Really) | Answers for Actors

Why do some actors feel that because they are “artistes” they deserve recognition for everything thing they do from bowel movements to sending out job inquiries? A reader sent me the following:

Why do some actors feel that because they are “artistes” they deserve recognition for everything thing they do from bowel movements to sending out job inquiries?

A reader sent me the following:

“Hi Paul,

a month ago i sent my cv & pics & clip scenes to a castingagent [sic] for a movie project in London & asked if there’s still a possibility to do audition- the shooting will start somewhere in fall-i didn’t yet received an answer-yesterday i ‘ve mailed him again to let me know if audition is still possible-no reply- If a castingagent doesn’t reply does this mean that the actor/actress doesn’t match totally & thinks it isn’t worth to let him/her do an audition? Is it better to call him personnaly [sic] & ask him the reason? I am afraid i will come over as a jerk (you know)-Or should i let it this way? A Castingagent is supposed to help advancing an actor & i notice i get stuck (& in my case it’s dubble [sic] hard work to achieve my goal)-feel free to comment- Have a nice day Peter”

My reply:

“Hello Peter,

Thank you for the note.

Having once been an actor myself I understand your frustration. But that must be tempered with reality.

Casting directors are no different than human resources. Just as employers in the civilian world receive hundreds of applications and resumes from job seekers so do casting directors from actors. Not every inquiry can be answered.

When employers receive resumes they respond only to those they feel meet their expectations for the job opening(s). It’s no different in casting. As much as everyone would like to be recognized a response to each individual would be poor time management and counterproductive.

The best answer is an analogy I offer you by asking; do you respond to all ads and marketing you receive either via land or e-mail that doesn’t interest you? Of course not.

Move forward and look to other opportunities.

My Best,
Paul”

That was my polite, I-just-woke-up-and-have-yet-to-munch my morning muffin-happy reply. Here’s the candor.

To those actors out there that think that every inquiry for work or audition by them merits a thumbs-up or down response; get a reality check. It’s not going to happen. If you keep waiting for replies from all you contact you’ll eventually drive yourself mad and be one of those scary people on a subway platform who reek of a sour milk stench and mumble incoherently that Disney — in collaboration with the government — is tracking brain waves.

Recently I encountered another cry for ‘answer me damn it’ within the following Facebook status of an actress:

Seting up interviews with agents next week in New York. Have 2 appointments already…does anyone have an agent they like or that they have heard is good? I don’t want to work with an agent who doesn’t have time to take a phone call, I want someone who can give me advice and who will steer my career in the right direction. NO SNOBS!!!!

“NO SNOBS!!!” ? Honey you’re the snob of reality for not understanding how life works.

I wonder how many times this actress receives telemarketing calls from strangers and gets cozy will the uninvited intruder selling their wares? Actors cold calling agents is no different than a telemarketer calling you. Just as your life and/or work is being interrupted so too are agents who are trying to serve their clients being pulled at by interloping, uninvited actors calling on the phone.

In my diversified work as a casting director, director, teacher and writer I send out multitudes of inquiries for employ. Is it realistic for me to expect a response from each individual? Do I really want hundreds upon hundreds of ‘thanks but no thanks’ responses from producers, university theater department chairs and/or publishers? Would you? How fucking depressing. Why ask for the rejection to be voiced? Why are some actors masochists and demand to hear a reply – even if it’s a ‘no’ — from whomever they contact for a job? Is it because they enjoy wallowing in woe? Or is it because their labors are creative and the muse-afflicted believe themselves elevated above all others on our humble spinning rock in space?

The tired but worn phrase “Don’t call us. We’ll call you.” is not a suggestion. It’s reality. An instructive that is telling you (and Sondheim appreciators) to move on…

To the actors who expect a nod and bow to every resume they submit for potential employ:

– Stop focusing on a single submission. Look to other opportunities.

– Stop bitching, blaming and bemoaning that you’re not hearing back from people who hire. Look at what you have on paper to offer; could it be improved? If all is well with the resume, cover letter and headshot then pursue others with a first approach.

– Stop thinking that because some God or deity has sparked your soul to be an actor this makes you ‘special’ above all others on this planet. You’re not. You’re an individual among many, all of whom are also asking to be heard. Everyone can not answer everyone. (If you come up with a telepathic invention to make this happen universally; I’m outta here.)

Keep marketing yourself. Go after new opportunities. Take classes to improve your abilities. And please, stop waiting for responses. You’re wasting valuable time getting mired in melancholy while others are moving past you as they focus on what’s next.

Move on.

Side Note: FREE subscriber to Answers for Actors?

If not, then you’re not one of the 5,700 plus actors getting Answers for Actors delivered directly to your in-box. Each new post (once every two weeks) gets you industry info. I and my office do not view your e-mail address when you subscribe (the techno-elves do all that).  We just know you’re on-board and happily sharing in your journey. To subscribe for free use one of the subscription services either the gray ‘Follow Answers For Actors’ button to the lower right or the follow options in the right hand column.

My Best,
Paul

Bookmark and Share

StumbleUpon.com
E-mail This Post to a Friend or Two…

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.

Get One-On-One:

Get Work:

Get The Feed:

Classes with Paul Russell Paul's book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

Answers For Actors Feed

Visit Paul @ PaulRussell.net and/or:

(Part 2) Getting Stage Work Before Other Artists

STOP!

If you missed Part One of Getting Stage Work Before Other Artists then the next installment below, Part 2 , will make no sense to you. Go to the link below for Part One.

(And while you’re here you should freely subscribe to get these posts delivered directly to you so that you don’t let your competition get all the info while you’re being left behind. Three subscription choices to the right at the bottom.)

Getting $tage Work Before Other Artists (Part 1)

Getting $tage Work Before Other Artists (Part 2) – Read on below…

Welcome back.

Last we left off we were in the middle of Project: Target Regions (If you need a refresher go back to Post 1 and return… I’ll wait.)

Project Target Regions Step 4

Timing is everything to winning work.

With regional and summer stock theaters you must always think beyond the present and to the future in terms of seeking work. Meaning; plan your visits to be when the theaters are planning their next season. If you’re wondering when that is for each individual target theater you could call and ask the assistant to the producing artistic director. But generally a regional stage begins planning the next season in the middle or near the end of their present season. That’s when you have to be like a laser guided missile and hit your targets.

Now, you may have noticed I chose a month in my cover letter example (Part One of this post) to Mr. Rose: July. I picked that purposely because I know that the Barter annually begins formulating their next season (which begins the following January) in July.

You can choose any general time period that your little wordsmith heart and digital calendar desires, as long as the theater is in operation during that proposed time slot. Emphasis on “proposed”. You don’t have to actually have a trip planned for the period you forecast.

‘Huh?’ ‘Excuse me?’ ‘Do you mean lie about being in the area?’, you may be bantering about in your brain. No! You’re not truly fibbing in font. You’re planning. (Sometimes too much honesty can hurt your career, remember that).

After you get your first bite for a meeting/audition with a regional producing entity (Ya-hoo!), then you begin the actual planning for your journey to jobs. And that’s when you begin pushing harder to get more appointments at other theaters in the same region.

You can choose a day, week, or month of your liking but you’d be better off timing your “planned trip” to match a time when the people you need to put your face in front of are most accessible.

As for day of the week, Monday is always best as that’s the traditional dark day of theater. At union theaters there are usually no rehearsals, the administrative and tech staff are beginning the week anew without pressure (unless it’s a tech week of which you should always avoid for visiting a theater). Non-union theater schedules? Anything goes. There are no rules for them.

 

Project Target Regions Step 5

O.K. you got one appointment. Now get more within the region. Economize and make the most of your venture. Push for appointments at other theaters within the region. Let others know that a neighbor of theirs has taken an interest in you. Ever notice how someone with a partner is sometimes more attractive and desirable than those who are single? Same rules of want apply to work. Re-target. Again. With an e-mail and/or post-card.

Recommended E-mail Format for Follow-up:

Project Target Region Step 6

Once you have appointments at your theater(s) budget your trip as cheaply as is possible. If you have friends and family within a comfortable driving distance of your target(s); stay with them. The next best and cheapest accommodations of course are available by booking low-rate motel/hotels at discount hotel bookings sites online. Remember that you’re not taking the trip for the luxury of where you sleep but for gaining future opportunities to afford and enjoy four diamond accommodations.

If you don’t have relatives, friends, or friendly ex’s in the area(s) to be visited, or can’t afford a motel/hotel then weather permitting there is always camping (if you have a tent) or sleeping in your car. “Ew”, you may be thinking. But while the latter may seem really disgusting because you would awake with horrible morning breath (or worse yet, back-seat hair), you can always shower the skin, clean your enamels and style your do at truck stops, a local Y or health club (some have better facilities than four-star hotels). While sleeping in a tent or car is not the most glamorous of accommodations, they are the cheapest other than on couches of friends and relatives. And these two options (tent or car) can be done without long-lasting, emotional, debilitating affects. I’ve survived both without problem although my right-eye does twitch uncontrollably on occasion when passing by a Flying-J or TravelCenters of America.

Borrow transportation if you can. If not, rent as low as is possible without having to hitch a horse to the front bumper. If you don’t have a driver’s license (as an adult you really should grow-up and have one) bus or train your way to the jobs.

Keep the trip simple as far as expenses are concerned. And remember: All expenses for finding work are tax-deductable. That includes; gas, mileage, rentals, accommodations and meals while away from your home base. Keep your receipts!

Project Target Regions Step 7

Once you’re on the road that doesn’t mean you stop targeting theaters in the region you’re visiting. With mobile devices keeping us in constant contact almost anywhere at anytime, you can e-mail or call prospective employers. Simply be direct and say/write/text, “I’m in your neck of the woods this week visiting [insert theater/producer name]. I would love just fifteen minutes of your schedule and introduce myself to you. Thanks!”

There’s no shame in seeking employment. So if you’re reticent about this “aggressive” marketing of your product that is you either get over yourself or get into a new, more secure, career where you are not a professional job seeker. (Armed forces anyone?)

Target Regions via Vacations:

A student of mine and I were in a discussion about how he should be targeting theaters in the region of his residence, Greater Philadelphia a.k.a. The Delaware Valley. I was giving him some homework to do for the next class when he casually mentioned that he was taking his son to Pittsburgh to scope out colleges. Before he finished the sentence I stopped him.

“Did you contact any of the theaters in Pittsburgh to let them know you’ll be in the area?”

He knew I had caught him at missing an opportunity. The forty-year plus old man sheepishly looked down at the floor like an adolescent caught breaking curfew and mumbled that he didn’t but should have. Duh! Yes. The trip had already been planned. Hotel and travel arraignments made. If he had contacted the thriving theater market in and around the Steel City he could have written his family’s school-scoping-excursion off as a business expense! He also would have been creating new contacts that would have possibly led to a job that would help pay for his son’s costly secondary education! This guy lost an opportunity. Life 1. Student 0.

If you’re planning a vacation, a weekend road trip or any journey to areas where there are live theaters (or theme park entertainment if you’re so inclined to toiling in that trade) within a two hour driving distance from your destination don’t forget to pack some appointments into your schedule. Follow the previous Target Regions steps for getting yourself in front of people who can provide you with potential paychecks. One of the perks to taking meetings (or auditioning) while on a personal pleasure peregrination is that you can leverage that expense of luxury into a business deduction. I’m often amazed when I talk to theatrical friends and students who tell me they went to the Gold Coast of Florida or to the Berkshires (both cornucopias of regional theater) for a recent vacation and upon my asking, “Did you meet with any theaters while there?” and they look at me as if I just said something immoral about their mother. Then they realize the opportunities lost and ask me, “Should I have made contact with the theaters in the area?” What do you think? Life 2. Friends & Students 0.

And don’t overlook visiting college theater programs. Academia does occasionally hire guest artists, directors, choreographers and designers. The educational institutions also bring in professionals to teach or lecture. You might be able to pick-up a future guest lecture gig and enrich the knowledge of aspiring theater professionals (you were once one yourself, time to give back a little of what you’ve learned).

[End of Part 2. Next post includes what to take on your travels PLUS interview technique. If you’re not a subscriber to the the always free Answers for Actors I can guarantee that you’ll you’ll miss this important conclusion to this series and future posts. Several methods of getting the feed directly to you, at your convenience, are in the above, right column —–>. There’s one option below as well.]

My Best,
Paul

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.

Bookmark and Share

E-mail This Post to a Friend or Two…

Get One-On-One:

Get New Insights:

Get The Feed:

Classes with Paul Russell Paul's book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

Answers For Actors Feed

Visit Paul @ PaulRussell.net and/or:

Paul Russell on Facebook Paul on Twitter Paul on MySpace