By: Jess Canty
Well folks, we are finally here - and I have to say it does feel good to be back!
Given the number of breakdowns that have come out in the past three weeks, the industry seems to be cautiously optimistic that production really can begin again on a number of shows.
Pilots that were in the middle of casting back in February also seem to be getting going again so that has been great to see. We are once again busy on the breakdowns and pitching and boy does it feel good.
The Unions and Major Studios have finally reached an agreement about safety protocols for getting back to work - which is I think a sign of this optimism. If you are interested you can read more about that here.
Wanted to touch base with some observations and thoughts and reminders as things get going again.
Obviously the last 6 months have been a very strange and difficult time for all of us, however, as things get back to business we are going to be expecting that your communication with us return to where things were pre-Covid. This means...
Getting back in the habit of checking your email at least every couple of hours.
Replying to audition emails ASAP so that we know you have received them and are going to be taping.
Checking in with your agents (hopefully you haven't just been radio silent with them the last 6 months, and if you have you need to fix that now) to say hello, let them know you are here, and excited and ready to work! And don't forget to thank them for sticking with you through all of this.
Communicating with your specific manager about any major changes to your life - i.e. where you are now living / your day-job etc... so that we are setting you up for success with the opportunities we send your way. #helpushelpyou
Using the Cinterra Calendar to communicate your book-outs, auditions and callbacks.
Pretty much everything is going to be auditioning via self-tape for the foreseeable future. And many callbacks will be over live Zoom or Ecocast live or another similar platform. I know we harp on this - but I cannot stress enough how important it is that you are able to deliver a self tape that is well lit, has great sound.
Have your list of people ready to go who can be your reader - and please consider connecting with other Cinterra clients / trade reading services with each other!
Is your internet connection strong enough to support a live Zoom callback? Please test this with a friend - if not, consider calling your internet provider and if possible upgrade to a better quality connection. The last thing you want to have happen is to have the connection freeze during a callback. (Is this extra expense annoying? Yes. But consider all you are saving on gas not having to drive to auditions - reallocate these resources).
Get your tapes to us EARLY. I cannot stress this enough. We do our best to watch every single tape before we submit. Where possible we set deadlines days before the actual due date so that we can have the time to watch / give you feedback so you will have time to re-tape if necessary. This is because we want you to be competitive in the marketplace that is now solely based on self taping. We will not submit tapes that do not meet minimum standards for performance, lighting and sound. Do not wait until the last minute (you know who you are) to get these tapes to us.
COMMUNICATE if you are going to have an issue getting your tape to us by the Cinterra deadline.
Be BOLD. Make INTERESTING CHOICES. Remember you do not have the luxury now of having someone feel your energy in the room. You have to re-create this feeling for casting in your tape. It is likely that the casting director is watching your tape - and hundreds of others - on their couch, late at night after the kids have gone to bed while enjoying a glass of wine. You MUST make them put down the wine and lean into your tape and WATCH.
Use your environment. I was just on a panel this morning with a CD who echoed this sentiment. You can now use props or set up your space in the frame in the way that YOU want. In the way that is best for the character. In the way that will give you the energy you need to make us feel like your are in the world. DO IT. Be smart about this but do it. If the scene is set in a kitchen, tape in your kitchen (if you can). You for the first time in the history of auditioning now have this luxury. Take advantage. Your performance of course must come first, but let this stuff help you.
Give us an extra take. Unless casting specifically asks for only one take or one file - give us extra. You don't have the opportunity to get a re-direct from casting because you are not in the room. Give them the ability to still do their job by submitting at least two distinctly different takes on the scene. Show them your range AND give them options to submit to producers.
The limitations on shooting safely have brought a huge added expense to production - especially when it comes to recurring and fractional roles. This is important to remember because while before you may have been able to shoot other things if you were a fractional series regular, many productions are now requiring that you are quarantined only for their show and are not working on any other projects if booked on their show.
Because of these restrictions it is very unlikely that you will be able to book something outside of where you are living unless it is a very large role. And it is for this reason that you will now start to see "Actor MUST be LA Based" or "Actor MUST be Vancouver Based" in breakdowns - they are serious about this. So if you are not in LA at the moment, please let your manager know, but also you need to be prepared to get yourself back here ASAP. Have that changeable / unrestricted one-way plane ticket already purchased and ready to use.
Note that with rare exceptions we are no longer submitting on any non-union projects. This is because, in general, we simply do not feel like these projects will have the protocols or budgets to keep you safe if you were to book them. If you are SAG-E/NU and are still self-submitting please loop us in IMMEDIATELY if you are sent an offer so that we can help assess what the nature of the project is and if it is going to be worth putting yourself at risk. There are SOME exceptions - but we need to take this on a case-by-case basis.
Casting does not seem to care any longer about weekends because in this world of 2020 #whatistime? Seriously though, I think the combination of everyone being unable to work for the better part of the year and the fact that now many productions are feeling "behind" and under pressure to get going we are getting casting notifications at all hours of the day and due at all days of the week. BE PREPARED to have to tape late on a Friday night for a tape that is due for Saturday.
Finally - pat yourself on the back. You are still here. You made it through the uncertainty of the last months and there are auditions at the end of the tunnel.
We've dusted ourselves off, put our foot in the stirrup and are swinging our leg over to get back on this crazy horse called Hollywood.