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Casting notices

Shooting People was recommended to me. I am an actor who has responded direct to members in response a number of casting notices since I registered with SP a couple of months ago. However, I have to date received no replies! It would be nice to receive at least a courtesy reply from a member when I take the time to show an interest in being involved in their film - particularly as the roles are often expenses only / low paid. I am a relatively newly graduated actor who is willing to give up my time to collaborate with filmmakers, so that I can expand my showreel with interesting films! I think this is a 'Win Win' situation!

  • To me that's extraordinary, but perhaps I'm missing something. When reading applications, is it so hard to write a few words of thanks for someone's interest, gently say "not this time" and wish them luck in their future career? When an actor applies for a role, they're interested and part of them is waiting hopefully on that response. Even a copy and paste standard text is better than nothing, as it's the knowing that's important to the applicant.

    2 years ago
  • Hi Maria, I have been casting theatre and more recently film for many years. It may seem rude not to reply but you will find few people do . Just so many applications come in and as it's unlikely that any of the film makers or casting directors are on a massive budget so replying to everyone just takes too much time and resources. It's disappointing to hear nothing but it just means you perhaps were not suitable. Personally I give feedback to those who actually audition which is also rare. Sending your showreel to potential directors or casting persons is a good idea but don't expect a reply either! Even when you do that it may take ages before you fit a role type. For instance I have 7 films on my slate but from preliminary glance at your profile photo you fit possibly 1 role. Just keep applying don't give up but don't expect any response either!

    2 years ago
  • One problem is that the SP engine isn't very slick compared with CCP, for instance. On CCP you can mass-mail all respondents, on SP it's a bit more copy/paste and trying to keep track of who is at what stage in what job (clearly not suitable, possibly and on a shortlist, not suitable for this role but maybe another, worth calling for audition, you get the idea). It's actually a bigger deal than you'd think, with say 30 responses for a single role. I agree that it's worth doing though, and whilst I can't ever be certain I covered everyone, I do try to ensure a response for anyone who took the effort to reply.

    It's the same for all the roles though, not just cast. People advertising for line producer are no better, despite there being a much smaller application pool! You just don't take it personally and think how lucky you were not to end up working with someone that inattentive ;-)

    One technique that can help when placing a casting or crewing advert is to provide plenty of detail about the role, level of experience, etc., but include a simple instruction. Lots of people don't seem to read the adverts closely, so when I say 'attention to detail is important, please make the first word of your application (whatever)', and they don't, it shows a lack of attention! It helps pre-screen people ;-)

    2 years ago
  • Do you send letters of polite declination when Which invite you to join?

    Responses to castings (or any job) is your marketing email. Viewed that way it might feel less personal.

    Part of the problem is that, esp for cast, you could be one of hundreds of responses, a lot of whom are way out of scope, obviously thinking "they SAY they want a 45 year old grizzled guy but they really need me, the 20 year old blonde bombshell, and they'll realise that as soon as they see me". (Trouble is, sometimes you do have one type in mind then see the perfect person who is unlike your intended type, so I'm not going to blame them for trying).

    2 years ago
  • Maria, if this helps, the opposite is also true (though much more rare). I've contacted agents and managers to get a certain actor, and really have to be a squeaky wheel to get an answer sometimes. Often you don't even know if the actor has received the script.

    What's also a bit interesting is that well known actors never blow you off. Never. Perhaps that's why they are successful in the first place.

    I'm guilty of not telling actors "no" as well. One casting notice can get you hundreds of headshots (in the days before the internet, you can't imagine what can pile up!). Having said that, I do look at everyone's reel. And the people I think that are good, but are not right for the part, do get a reply.

    Also, this happens all of the time: you send out a casting notice for a 50 year old woman, and you get a boatload of 20 somethings applying for the position. Those never get a reply, because you've wasted my time.

    2 years ago
    • Dan how do you formulate / communicate with those well-known actors? Only once was I able to talk to the agent of such an actor. Others didn't react.

      That aside, I have the same observation about the couple of people at the very top of the music industry a few years ago. They did what they said. Others didn't.

      2 years ago
    • Hi Alève, in honesty you probably can't get through to those guys...YET. The agent will want to see if you're credible before passing a script along - 'names' will get flooded with student projects, etc., so their agents are gatekeepers. The agent will simply look you up on IMDB, and look for other features you wrote/directed/produced. If you have a track record of making £1M features you'll get access to £5M-worth cast. If you have a record of £10M features, it goes up... etc. Similarly, if you have made a handful of shorts, it's not even worth troubling Brad Pitt's agent! It's all about credibility, and that's something you build.

      Would we have got the great cast for the last feature had it not been for the one before? Probably not TBH, but we built credibility that 1) the director can work with actors and 2) that we get films made and distributed and 3) actually pay up. Those three things make a difference!

      2 years ago
    • Hi Alève. I have found many agents to be really approachable and my tack as a relatively new director was to approach agents of people who were either on the cusp or hadn't done anything in a while, or might want to move into acting.

      I got a lovely response from some London agencies, and Charlie Boorman was looking at my script a few weeks ago, although he ultimately didn't take it up.

      His agent seemed more than happy to pass it over to him once I'd had an initial chat and shown I was credible though and also came up with some other suggestions for me.

      I've had similar successes with comedians and other artists who are wanting to push their careers in a different direction. The first short I ever AD'd on many years ago starred Mel B after she left the Spice Girls, and she did it for free for just that reason.

      I think you just have to be a bit smart with your casting and always use the phone before an email. It seems to me, and I am inexperienced, that if you're straight up and an actor likes the project sometimes you can score a hit. Look at John McLean and Michael Fassbender.

      2 years ago
    • Paddy, remember the statistics? Directors typically only make one feature. How does that add up? Paddy I believe that my way in is through acting, and specifically, because therein lies my real-life credibility: an action feature protagonist who also needs to handle some engineering in order to reach their goal in the story, while dealing with critical moments of a passionate relationship with a man who is also involved in the intrigue. Shooting soon with a great crew. In almost any language. Hand'm over. Just watched Pitch Black Heist. It is a really good short indeed. I can imagine that the script looked convincing to Fassbender. The one odd thing was the absence of a barman at the bar. (I possibly know this bar if it's in London. We had gone scouting for a scene and ran across something like that, surrounded by streets like those.)

      Chris thanks. It looks/sounds like it makes sense to do it that way, and makes everyone happy, because they get what they want, too. I hope Charlie Boorman reconsiders. I'll try and follow some talent more closely.

      2 years ago
    • @Alève Mine I never really have a plan, except for this: I don't contact the agent, I contact the manager. The agent is the money person. He wants big budget money. The manager is the career person.

      The "strategy" is that I see things in actors outside of their niche. I'm crazy that way. I think good actors can do more than one type of character. Look, if I'm doing an action film for 15 million, it's pointless to try and get Bruce Willis to do it.

      Since I fix films, and those are already geared up and going, I learned this lesson, and it works well: the secret to getting solid, name actors? Have a script that is out of their Hollywood pigeon hole, a budget, a shooting schedule, and a shoot date. Every agent and manager will take that call. I love Bill Nighy, so let's use him as an example: "I need Bill for 5 days and I have 50k to pay. Want to read the script?" Of course they'll read the script. There are various versions of this: "Judi Dench signed on to my movie, and I'd really like to get Bill." Fuck yes, they'll read the script. Other good people are how you get everyone else working for peanuts. But if you don't have the money to get Judi Dench, you need to know someone that knows someone that Judi Dench respects. Once you have money and a schedule in place (or even a promise of money based on the cast), the world opens up.

      If you're trying to get a star to sign on so that you can raise the money, forget it. They get 200 of those a day. For those, you need a personal connection to the actor.

      Then there's this: even with money and a day out of days, you'll still need a list of actors you want for each role. If one says "no", go down the list.

      2 years ago
    • @Alève Mine "Directors typically only make one feature." - I guess on average, most haven't got the chops to make 2 or more? If they did it, it was good, made money, they sold it, then enjoyed it, and they had backers I guess they'd make more!

      Just a thought - I know you act and are really active, have you considered doing stunt work? It seems an industry that has lots of men and not enough women, and it pays REALLY WELL. www.equity.org.uk/documents/stunt-peform... for a bit of orientation, if it helps.

      2 years ago
    • Maria thanks for bearing with our slight departure.

      Dan thanks for the insights. I will likely apply them, in time. (Absolutely: you can easily take me out of my theoretical pigeon hole for an 18th or 19th century period piece.)

      Paddy yes at some point I did, then found out there is higher security for actors in action scenes and, with some metal due to kickboxing already, decided to stick to acting. Health is important, you know. And: because it is something else that I'm aiming to show, it would of course only have been a stepping stone, and that wouldn't have been right. The chances that making a name as a stunt will help getting appropriate acting parts looking low aside, I feel that if you're going to be a stunt, you want to be really fully focused on only that. You can't afford to have anything else on your mind at any point in time, ever.

      2 years ago
    • Paddy and Aleve, on directors that only make one picture. That was always my assumption, and don't doubt its validity one bit, but is there some study somewhere? And is this based on all first time directors, or only directors that got a distribution deal (99% of films made, don't).

      Even with good first time films, I've seen first hand how directors and producers screw themselves on a first film. They try to make a financial killing with investor contracts, leaving their investors out in the cold, even if the film makes money. I don't mean that in an evil way, they simply justify the creative role as king. Personally, I'd do contracts that the creative side takes zero until the investors recoup 110% of their investment. That way you actually CAN take a second bite of the apple.

      2 years ago
    • @Dan Selakovich yes here it is: stephenfollows.com/many-films-average-fi...

      Roughly the same apparently also applies to producers and actors. So that first project had better be good, for everyone.

      That sounds like a good way to raise the chances of a next project, I'll keep that in mind, thanks.

      2 years ago
  • Just to confirm all of the above really. Pre-internet casting even a short film could get you over 500 headshots for a single part. Since then if the project is good... you can imagine. The important thing is that you stick to your principals and always be generous, kind and respectful of others. As others have intimated, practically everyone successful in the business are straight dealers

    2 years ago
  • Maria,

    You'll find that majority of the time you won't get a response, unless of course you are right for the part. I have been in the industry for over 15 years now and worked with a lot of well known people and they all say the same, there are so many applications they can't get back to everyone.

    I use Shooting People on and off, if a role comes up that I would love to do then and if I'm right for it I go for it. It's also about knowing what parts you are right for and really understanding what they want. It's hard to begin with but Shooting People helped me build a showreel when I first started out. Just keep plugging away and you will find a role. Also I have been told from directors I have worked with that when applying, they liked the indepth knowledge of how I saw the character. Tell them why you'd like to do it and what pulled you towards their script. Keep going. Good Luck. Check out CCP too.

    2 years ago
  • Because I have a pretty high profile with my www.MargeryBooth.com I expected a flood of enquiries from actors but there has only been a trickle of only 1 or 2 a week and I have always replied. It is only courtesy. The only actor who has repeated his details 3 or 4 times cannot grasp the fact that there is no part in a film for a black actor in Germany in 1943... So please, only apply if a part is realistically available.

    2 years ago