The other day I saw an acting website advertising a package where you pay a certain amount of money to get 37 Twitter handles of top casting directors. I can promise you one thing – contacting a casting director on Twitter will NOT get you an audition. But there is a way that to contact casting directors that is professional, and might actually lead to a relationship. So let’s take a look…
But first, can you contact casting directors?
Though there is one camp in the industry selling Twitter handles of casting directors, there is another camp on the opposite side selling a fear campaign that you should never contact casting directors directly. I understand this fear, but now having interviewed a number of casting directors I am well and truly out of that camp. You definitely can reach out to casting directors and most of them are really open to it. (More proof in our interview below, with Casting Director Stevie Ray)
Before I get properly stuck in you need to read this second, important point…
Do you have an agent?
Your agents job is largely to get you in front of casting directors and they have specific ways of doing this. They have developed relationships over years and years and they know what they are doing. If you do have an agent, you need to respect that and always run anything past them. I still think this information is valuable if you have an agent, but don’t go wild contacting casting directors behind your agents back.
Play it safe
Casting Directors are the most powerful people in the industry. Having even one casting director on your side could lead to an acting career. Having a few on your team, and you are flying! So they are incredibly important, and mucking up those relationships can be disastrous. So, right from the top of this article, I want to caution you to play it very safe. Even if you decide to reach out to a casting director after reading this article, you cannot over do it.
My advice is reach out once every 4-6 months at the most! And even then you only do it when you have something to show, which we will talk about in a moment. I also want you to avoid asking directly for auditions or roles, and please don’t say that you want to be famous!
Email, don’t call
Cold calling is brave, I will give you that, but it isn’t what I would advise. I think a professional email is the way to go. No social media direct messaging, no cold calling, just stick to good old fashioned email! It won’t always lead to a response but it is the safest way to reach out.
Always have something to show
If you are starting a conversation with a casting director you need to have a reason. Here are a few ideas…
#1 Introduction. If you’ve never been into that casting director, I think it’s fine to reach out introducing yourself. This is particularly useful if you have just moved to a new city or are coming back to acting after some time away.
#2 New content. If you’ve just made a great short film, or got a great new showreel, it’s definitely worth flicking that across. A new bit of content is a conversation starter, and is definitely a good reason to reach out. (Just make sure it’s good!)
#3 Upcoming show. If you have a show happening, it is definitely great to invite casting directors along. Always offer free tickets and make it as easy as possible for them to get along. Even if they can’t make it, it shows that you are working in the industry and gives you something to get in touch about.
These are the main three types of emails I would send. I generally would avoid reaching out asking for auditions, as that could be problematic. I also would only email about exciting new developments, it’s not sending them a different headshot each week.
Keep it succinct
Regardless of why you are reaching out, please always keep your emails succinct and to the point. CDs are busy people and they simply won’t read an email detailing your life story. You have a much better chance of getting your email read, or your showreel viewed, by writing a succinct and professional email.
Note: though I recommend being professional, still aim to keep a casual tone. It doesn’t need to be as formal as ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’!
Don’t expect a response
As I’ve mentioned already CDs are extremely busy, so you can’t always expect a prompt response. If they don’t reply it doesn’t mean they haven’t read your email or looked at your work. If you want to do one casual follow up a few weeks later, you can, but after that DO NOT BUG THEM! Remember the number one goal is to not annoy these industry players. If you send out a few emails and don’t hear back, suck it up, and make a note to get in touch later on in the year.
So there you have it. You definitely can reach out to casting directors, and though you won’t always get a response, in my experience most of them are happy to receive emails from actors. Being a freelance actor is a genuine alternative and some actors do really well dealing directly with casting directors. I have a friend who is freelance who has developed a great relationship with a local Casting Director, and goes in to audition for them once a month – so there is hope! He doesn’t bug them, but they’re always interested if he’s got a new showreel edit, or an invite to Opening Night of a new show he’s in. It also helps to be friendly, and genuine!
A casting director that we recently had in our online scene club was chatting with me at an event and she told me a couple of our students had emailed her multiple times. She told me flat out how frustrating it was and how it WILL NOT WORK to pester a casting director. So I ask you all to be cautious. Use your better judgement, put yourself in their shoes. Would you want to receive an email every week from a pesky actor who is begging to be on Netflix? Probably now. Reach out, but please don’t annoy these influential people.