Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Castings in LA

This section is to let you know what castings are like in LA and how they differ to anywhere I've been in the world.
The main difference is the fact that you very rarely get an opportunity to meet the clients for the jobs you cast for. There are a lot of casting directors and casting agencies in this town that are employed by companies to cast potential talent for jobs. What this also means is that it add's an extra stage to the casting process, which for the client it makes it easier to cast someone. For the talent however, it is a completely different story and one I have become increasingly frustrated by since arriving in LA. It means that for practically every single job available, whether a modeling job or an acting job, there are a minimum of 2 stages of castings. That means 2 trips to the casting studios on two different days, a lot of time commitment and more money spent on travel. Now you can imagine that if your casting every single day and if you get fortunate enough for a call back, this will involve a lot more money being spent.

This is not the only difference with the castings. The volume in people casting is so much higher than that in London. We're talking very often numbers over 500 for certain jobs. Competition is fierce here in Tinseltown, with so many hopes and dreams of wannabe actors and models trying to come to fruition. It makes it very very difficult to make it and is definitely a part of the reason why I have found the first 6 months pretty tough.

On a personal level, I believe that when I get a chance to meet a client and to show them my personality, I have a lot higher chance of getting the job. I always believe that you need to make the impression on the clients so that you stick in their mind and that they don't forget you. This is extremely difficult to do when your being asked maybe 2 questions from a casting director (what is your name? what is your agency?). So ultimately 99% of roles are down to your look and if you fit the criteria set by the clients. You can kiss as much ass of the casting directors as you can, and so many do, but they are not the ones making the ultimate decision.

Now, a company that I am not obliged to mention, (due to contractual obligations) requested me for a commercial casting audition. First step of the casting was to have a phone interview. I was asked various questions about myself, my past and some about my personality. I had to ensure that when I received the phone call I was available to talk which meant moving work around that I had arranged.
After the phone interview I was fortunate to get a callback. I was extremely happy about this, as I knew the project was a large one and worth a lot of money too. (this is always something which is tough for models and actors, as it gets your hopes up when you see high figures flashed in front of your eyes) 2ND casting was at a specific casting building and I went in, waited the usual about 30 - 45 minutes as is the case in LA and went in. I was interviewed in front of a camera and asked the exact same questions as my phone interview. You can imagine how frustrated I was, as it felt like a complete waste of time going in, spending money and using my time again.

BUT my phone rang again and I got my 2ND callback, 3rd casting of all, again I was very happy about. This time I finally got to meet the client (well I thought all of them) and was happy to finally present myself to them and to get them to meet me and to speak to them. Now this casting went great and I got told by the Director of the project himself that I was his favourite for it! Such elation to hear that.

BUT it didn't end there! I was called up yet again to go in for a 3rd callback, a 4Th casting of all the following day! I was happy, but couldn't believe that I had to see them again and spend so much time trying to impress the client, doing very similar things to the previous days casting. I put my feelings to the back of my mind and gave it my all. I left this casting feeling absolutely drained and exhausted by the whole process but still very positive about the outcome. I was also told that I would hear back from them very soon to know if I had booked the project at all.

I never heard one thing back from them. Ruthless casting, no care or worry about how the people casting for the roles feel. They could not give a s**t about how much time, effort, energy, money and commitment went in for this casting alone. 4 castings! And worse was to follow when they did not pick anyone from the castings for the project and chose 2 very different people.

That is a true experience that I received whilst casting in LA. It is a tough, ruthless place to be and to try and make it. These previous hurdles and challenges will all stand me in good stead for the future, that I can be sure of.

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