Getting Through the Door: Knowing Your Casting

Do you know, really, candidly know, how you are most likely to be cast? Today. Tomorrow. Right now. From your submitted headshot. Not your fantasy role, the lead in everything, but have you done your homework on your casting in today’s media, and do you fully own it?

If you haven’t dedicated some real time to watching the shows you would like to be on, the kind of films you want to be part of, and discerned your most likely place within them, before you shoot headshots, or new headshots, this is a crucial time to do this work.

If you are looking for an agent, or have an agent that isn’t getting you in the room (enough), knowing your own casting, and getting it embedded into your headshots will be tremendously empowering for you, and them.

To get through the casting door, you must know, and present, a clear understanding of who and what you are. As an actor, and as an artist. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are you ready to play today, what are you working on for the future? What is the core essence of what you uniquely bring to the table as a performer? What are you marketing and selling here? If you don’t know, how can your Agent, Manager, Casting Director, know? How can they buy what you’re selling if you don’t know what it is?

For those that haven’t dialed this in just yet, here’s the straightforward process. Watch television and films critically, and find your place within them. Your role. Be brutally honest, while also being confident and laser specific. Find “your gal,” or “your guy,” the supporting player or lead whose’ got the role(s) you’re going for. Make a list, collect a few of them, then refine that until you have your realistic range, and your sweet spot, nailed. And bring that not only to your auditions, your agent, but to your headshot session!

Have you ever looked at Breakdowns? The casting sheets an agent looks through every day, and decides whom to submit for each role? Have you looked at them critically, as an actor, and put yourself in your agent’s shoes? What roles should you be submitted for? Why, exactly? Can you cruise through the pages with a highlighter, and mark the parts you should be submitted for? Does your Agent or Manager agree with you? Make sure you know the answer to this, and your representation does too!

Okay, here goes. You’re the nice guy/woman next door. Great, but general, refine it. “Who’s kinda sexy”? Okay, what kind of sexy? Confident, vulnerable, rugged, refined? Blue collar, or white collar? Are they a little neurotic, quirky? Harmless, or also the person with 18 bodies buried in the backyard?

You’re a detective. Okay, what kind? Rookie, just out of a squad car, polishing your shield at home and dreaming of making a difference? Or grizzled veteran, who finally put away the bottle you’ve been nipping off of in the restroom since your partner was killed in the line of duty four years ago? Are you honest, or on the take? On the take, okay, why? Because you’re greedy, or because you have a special needs child at home, and $60K doesn’t begin to cover the bills?

When I shoot with actors, I have this kind of discussion with them before our session, and then work with the results in specific detail, while we’re shooting. I offer clear, simple direction with the intention of achieving shots that cover a range of character choices and intentions, getting them into the moment, reacting then and there, to different scenarios.

This specificity shows. It makes an impression. Casting Director’s respond to this kind of detailed professionalism. They’re pouring through submissions and your shot pops, it jumps up and waves it’s little arms, saying “THIS is the person!”

Look at some of my shots. There is always something going on, something behind the eyes. A thought, an emotion, vulnerable, strong, whatever it is, it’s real…

It gets you in the room. And on the set.

Geoffrey Donne