Notes from a Casting Director
As many of you may know, I have recently wrote a screenplay and I am just now finishing casting this project. I learned a lot casting this project and seeing how other actresses represent themselves when they have no agent doing so. I have some very surprising stats that I'd like to share with other actors out there to give an example of what we see on the other side of the table.
I am not going to reveal where this casting was posted or who submitted.
I had this casting notice posted on one very popular casting website for 3 weeks. Within those 3 weeks, 264 people submitted themselves to be in the running for this lead role. That's right, I had to look through 264 files. The role was listed to female union actresses, however non-union could apply if they searched through a union database.
In the posting I gave all the role details, production details, compensation details, and two sides. In the submission, I asked for a cover letter to be submitted describing the actress's availability during said shooting month, and their connection to this story. I also asked for a video audition to be sent in with their submission using said sides. Simple rules, very common rules, right?
Out of the 264 applicants, only 28 of them were union actresses. The other 236 applicants were all non-union. (That means, the non-union actresses had to search through this union database to find the posting, confident they were ready for a union job, then, they could apply.)
Out of these 264 applicants, only 55 sent in cover letters.
Meaning only 21% of the applicants actually sent in a cover letter.
Many cover letters simply just had a link to their website, or telling me what school they just graduated from. Which, honestly, never impressed us. In the posting I originally asked for them to tell me about their availability and how they connect to the story, right? Only 6 non-union actresses had followed those directions, and only 2 union actresses followed the directions.
In the posting I asked for a video audition to be sent in with the submission... only a handful of actresses listened to that instruction, all of them being non-union. No union actress sent in an audition, until I requested them to send one.
Out of 264 actresses all asking to be considered for this role, only .019% actually followed my instructions.
After my requests went through, many union actresses denied the request saying they were unaware of the commitment, meaning they didn't even read the casting notice. Only 6 union actresses accepted my audition and sent it in.
Now, this surprises me.
As we all know, this industry is very, very competitive. It is even more competitive when a production is seeking a union actress, and you are a non-union actress. It still blows my mind that non-union actresses are stepping up to the plate opposite of a union actress and they aren't prepared, they haven't even began to follow my instructions.
I also learned that yes, a decision is made within 5 seconds. Since we are seeking a union actress, it will be very hard to notice a non-union actress unless their profile really stands out. We noticed the non-union actress over the union actress if they followed all the directions. (Which 233 of them didn't.) If you followed all the directions, we then looked at your demo reel. Within the first 5 seconds we could decide whether or not you were the actress for us. If we liked your demo reel, then we looked at your resume. If we liked your resume, we then looked at your website. We made sure to see your talent before we saw your credits.
Talent over credits every day.
It surprised me that these girls were asking to be considered although they hadn't even considered the casting notice first. They got so eager to send in their application that they didn't even 1) read what the whole production is about 2) read the shoot dates and location for the project 3) follow the directions listed at the bottom of the posting.
If you are looking to stand out to a casting director, you've really got to be that .019%.Which really, isn't too hard in a self submission. Follow all the directions and make sure you are 100% available to commit to this project. Make sure your profile is updated and full. Give your heart in that audition. That's it.
If you want to be an actress but don't put in the work (or don't even follow instructions)... then you won't become an actress, it's pretty simple. How do we know we could direct you if you can't even read then apply directions from a casting notice?
Don't worry all day over not having the best credits or a good reel... be nice to the casting team and nail that audition.
Thankfully to these statistics, it was super easy for us to cast our lead. Since she was in the .019%. All the other applicants made it super simple for her to land that job.
Thanks for the read everyone! Hopefully this will be of some benefit to everyone!