Seattle Acting: Getting Cast in Film and Television, Part 1

I was Tweeting (I cannot believe that was not just spell checked…) with friends today (@bellawonder and @GadZook) about how actors get cast in film in Seattle. As an actor in Seattle, I can tell you about my experience, and then hope others will contribute so we can get a well rounded perspective.

Before this year, I had only shot a few projects in a 10 year span, one being a short called Mukilteo Takeout back in the day (never saw it) which I hardly remember, nor can I remember how I got the part (I am no help here)

ONLINE MEMBERSHIPS/EMAL LISTS:

I have also shot a few projects with GadZook Films, and I am pretty darn sure I heard about those projects on Theatre Puget Sound (TPS). Then, there was the internet serial, What the Funny, which seems like it must have come from TPS, but I could be mistaken. There is a SLIM chance that I heard about a project or two from the Performer’s Callboard. I find TPS to be a superior outlet for audition notices.

Here is an UPDATE: Facebook Page “Seattle Theater Auditions and Casting Notices”

RELATIONSHIPS:

Another way (it’s the WHO DO YOU KNOW category) to get work is to get to know people in the biz and cultivate relationships with people who are working. Now, I feel like I don’t need to say this, but I will anyway just in case there is any confusion: If you want to work steadily in the business, you shouldn’t behave like an A**hole. Be nice to the people you work with and the people you meet. Everyone you meet on set is a potential “in” to your next gig. So, be nice. It’s easy and people will like you more if you are friendly and warm. “Just Do” (inside joke). I can tell you that getting cast in projects often works just this way. For instance, I shot a short film late last year (which never seemed to get finished, a hem), and my name was dropped to them by another friend (thank you, Dom). My most recent project was All My Presidents. The director was Connor Hair. He was FirstAC on Shadowed. Relationships help. And, don’t forget to be nice. 🙂

SOCIAL NETWORKING:

I use Twitter to connect to people in the industry that I don’t yet know. I have made a lot of “friendships” on Twitter, and I have been asked to audition for more than one production company in the past six months. So, get online and get active. Promote thyself! Also, someone I hardly know on FB (I have 1000+ friends) recommended me to their director for a part that they were having trouble casting. I was offered the part, but had to decline due to conflicts. Moral: Cultivate relationships. Get online. Promote thyself. You are a product. Sell, sell, sell! Oh, and you should also be on Google+ and, perhaps, Stage32.com. If you are not represented, you can also put a profile up at Cast Iron Studios.

AGENCY WORK:

If you are lucky enough to have an agent, I hope that they are sending you out. I have been to Portland to audition for Cast Iron Studios 5 times this year. I am oh-for-five, but that is neither here nor there. If your agency has not sent you out lately, ask them what is up. Talk to your friends who are represented by other agents in town and see what kind of action they are getting. Then, go back to your agent and talk again. Stay in your agent’s face. Make sure they know you are hungry, committed, and looking to audition as much as possible. It is also important that your agent knows what kind of “product” they have in you. If you have “range” make sure your agent knows that you should be reading for diverse characters.

…more to come….

Thank you for reading.

~ DSH

2 thoughts on “Seattle Acting: Getting Cast in Film and Television, Part 1

  1. Good subject to tackle, David, and tricky.
    Seattle is not like other places and other places are not like OTHER other places. In other words, only LA is LA. The community, the network, the system is different based on your zip code, that’s for sure. To get cast here, get to know how YOUR community works, not the one you wish was more like Hollywood. Work comes to Seattle in fits and starts, so the key is to prepare yourself for its arrival, not watch it disappear before you finish printing out your resume.

    One great trick I learned recently on how to sniff out what work was coming down the pike is to go out and party with the crew, especially if you get the chance to hook onto a feature or high-profile job. mMke the time to go out with the local crew. The benefits are twofold: 1) crews like it when actors are cool and come out and party. It’s just good karma, and the local crew in Seattle is completely top-deck. And 2) casting is often the last element of production to fall into place. Only after securing locations, crews, budgets, etc do producers turn their attention to casting. Therefore, local crew often knows about the work long before auditions are even announced. Find out some project names then badger you agent about them or call your casting agent friends and see what they now. Put the word out that you want to read. Ask a crew friend for their advance copy of the script and role breakdown (this is probably not quite legal and you can’t prove that I ever did it, I’m just saying). Do whatever you can to get more info on these projects. Which brings me to…

    Go get yours. This is often a toughie for Seattle folks. “I want to audition, but I don’t want to make [agent, producer, director, casting agent] mad at me for being pushy and then never call me in again.” Truth: anyone who gets mad at an actor for going after a role is a total dope. They’re not going to send you an engraved invitation even if you do have an agent. See the project, go after it. Yes, as David says, be nice. Always. Be professional and respectful. Say please and thank you, but say what you want. Too often, we see the example of the “squeaky wheel” as the douchebag who is nothing more than a total pest but somehow gets roles because somebody wants to shut him/her up or has been hypnotized to think that brash, naked ego somehow equals talent. Wouldn’t it be nice if more of us worked to kill that stereotype?

    The other valuable thing to remember is something [Spokane acting teacher and casting director mentioned earlier on this blog] Nike Imoru told me during an audition once, which is that the actor’s job is to get the callback. The callback means you have done your job at the audition – you are cast-able – and the rest is up to the producers & director to decide how best to put you in the project. A callback is good. Find whatever ego boost you need in the fact that you were good enough to get a second look. Of course, getting the part is generally the best thing, but I found that with this thought in my head, I have an easier time rebounding from the ultimate rejection.

    One last thought. David wisely mentions getting involved in your game & getting “out there” on social networks. This is not just to create more useless noise around your name. Ours is a social, personal business. If you have something to say, if you are a savvy local actor, if you always try to know where your next target is – audition, class, workshop, event, lecture, etc. – you will not only do yourself a service as a working professional, you will help create a rigor within the community that promotes work. I know this is somewhat pie-in-the-sky but I truly believe it. There’s a reason Seattle actors and film professionals get more attention than those in other markets (they do, I’ve checked) – it’s because we are smart, hungry and talented. Hard to see from ground level sometimes, but with the right attitude and discipline, we can make our little corner of the universe a real force to be reckoned with in Le Biz.

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