My advice to actors is to always research, as best you can, how each Casting Director likes to be contacted. We all have our own way of working.
I personally only wish to be contacted via email. It means I can read your email when I’m not busy (and I do read them all) and if necessary, I can file your email for later reference for when I’m looking at reels or searching for a particular character.
First and foremost, make sure you know who you are emailing. One of the most common mistakes is an actor emailing for representation. Casting Directors do not represent actors. If you’re looking for representation, then you need to contact a Talent Agent. For those of us casting for TV and Film, we do not cast extras.
As I have to get through a multitude of emails each day, I have a few simple requests for actors’ emails to me:
Make sure the email is being sent to the address advertised, as this will be where Casting Directors will want to receive it. Make the message simple and concise. To elaborate; as I do have a lot of emails to read, I respond better when emails are short and to the point. It’s also worth noting, I don’t need to be buttered up or have my ego massaged to read your message. I know actors email Casting Directors, so you don’t need to justify why you’re sending me the email.
And please, please don’t apologise for emailing me. I expect them. I don’t particularly need to know your life story or why you want to act, I just need your photo, a list of work you’ve done, and a link to a clip or reel of any screen work.
There is no need to check if an email has been received. If it hasn’t bounced back, then I have it.
Only ever send one small jpg of your headshot. I can pretty much get an idea of you from one image. If you have other images you want me to view, then refer me to Spotlight / your online CV. Make sure your headshot is a true representation of you, I’m not looking for over stylised images, but the person who I will see when they walk in the room. Selfies should be avoided at all costs.
If you have any clips or reel of any work you’ve done for screen, make sure they are sent as a link to an online reel and not an attachment or a link to download. The main resources I use are Spotlight and Casting Networks so if you are a member of either/both, please ensure you have any examples of your work on your CV.
And if you do have a reel (or are thinking about having one done) please don’t include a montage. As I often say, I don’t care what you look like to music. I want to see you act.
A little title of what production the clip is from is also handy (but not essential)
Don’t email too often. Our job is to remember names and faces. If you email too often it’s not seen as persistence, it becomes an annoyance. As previously mentioned, I do file emails of interest, so if I think you’re right for something I will bring you in when the right character comes up. Also if I’ve auditioned you, you will be on one of my many lists, and I will remember you for things you may be right for, so there is no need to remind me of who you are.
Please do not cc my agent into any theatre invite / performance notice etc emails. She does not look after my diary or have anything to do with my day to day logistics. She is there simply to do my deals & contracting, with producers, for my prospective projects.
Please do send me invitations to any show you may be in, but as I am out at the theatre regularly, and I’m mainly based in Manchester, I may not be able to attend. If I or someone from my office, are able to attend, we will respond, so please don’t send reminder emails.
And of course, if you’re in something on TV or the cinema, send me an email letting me know, as I try to watch most things.
Generally, due to the sheer volume received, I don’t reply to many emails. So don’t be disheartened if you don’t hear from me; I may well be bringing you in for an audition one day.
I use Twitter and Instagram. As stated earlier in how to best contact me, please do not send your reels or invites to me on social media. If sent on Twitter, it will be amongst the multitude of notifications, then forgotten about. I’m also not able to file it away for future reference. I only use Instagram to share and look at work related images.
If you are tweeting Casting Directors on Twitter, it’s worth considering that they may not want to be tagged in images that bare no relevance to them, or tweeted with a large number of people, as there’s a tendency of being indundated with multiple ‘reply alls’.
Similarly to emailing a Casting Director too often, we remember names and faces, so continually following someone on Twitter in order to reappear in their notifications, isn’t necessarily going to mean you’ll be remembered for the right reason.
Self tapes are being used much more regularly than before. I generally only use them when I’m pre-meeting a large number of performers for a role, or if an actor is unable to make it to an audition due to their location or because they’re working on another job.
Please do not send me unrequested self tapes. I only use them for projects I’m casting, as I know the characters and what the scene should entail.
As there is often confusion about how best to shoot them, please read the following guidelines on the CDG website: CDG Self tape guidelines
Further information on my job and advice on how best to contact a Casting Director, can be found below by listening to the podcast I recorded for Spotlight and/or by watching the video of my interview for Inside the Filmmaker’s Studio at ManIFF 2015