After much hovering over my keyboard, and clicking with the speed of a circus sharpshooter, I have finally managed to secure a free online chat with a casting director.
It wasn’t one of the people I was hoping to get – their slots were already gone – but with a lot of competition for spots, I was just glad to get anyone. As it turns out, the person I am meeting has worked on some amazing projects, which is a great bonus, but it’s also making me nervous.
I haven’t done many online meetings of any sort before. I haven’t been sent any sides to learn, so I am assuming it will be less an audition and more a general conversation. Do you have any suggestions that will help me make the most of the opportunity?
‘General meetings’ have always been a lot more common on the other side of the Atlantic than they are in the UK. Over here, one-to-one contact between actors and casting directors has tended to be limited to either the audition room or brief slots in the context of paid workshops, with sides to perform, meaning we are in character rather than playing ourselves.
As anyone who has attended more than one workshop will know, there are usually two strands: the first is a general overview of how the industry works from the casting director’s side of the table, which is likely to differ between workshops more in terms of presentation than the basic facts themselves.
The second element relates to the style and preferences of the casting director presenting each workshop. It is useful to know how they like to be contacted and what they look for in marketing materials, but it’s important to remember preferences often vary quite a bit between casting directors.
I sometimes meet actors who have been given opposing pieces of advice by two different casting directors. That doesn’t mean the advice isn’t useful, but ultimately you must to be the captain of your own ship, and you should make decisions based on each new situation rather than some mythical hard and fast rule.
None of this is meant to detract from the generosity of the casting professionals who are giving their time to do online meetings. As most casting directors will freely admit, they are cogs in a bigger wheel, and the current situation has made their futures as insecure as our own. Remembering that fact will help you go into your meeting on the right footing – as an equal.
In auditions or one-to-ones, what we perceive as being ‘important’ meetings can make us overcompensate and become too ‘extra’, when what the other person really wants to see is us being ourselves. I am not sure how structured your online interaction will be. The casting director may have planned it as a mini version of an existing workshop format, or they may want a more informal chat. Either way, do your research on their previous work, refresh your memory on what you have done (easy to forget in the moment) and make a list of any specific questions you want to ask.
If the meeting leads to a future casting, great, but if all it ends up as is two people connecting and encouraging each other at a difficult time in the industry and the world, that is time well spent too.