How to Contact Casting Directors & Talent Agents

April 23, 2014 at 8:31 am | Posted in acting, entertainment, Submission Guidelines | Leave a comment
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Paul RussellFacebook, Linked-In, Twitter, email, land mail, carrier pigeon, or stalker?

So many platforms of which to connect personally and professionally: which outlet is the best for unsolicited actor-to-gate keeper communication? Which is the worst?

All. And All.

Huh?

Yep. There is no clear-cut, saw-the trees-down-to-be-seen answer.

So then, what to do?

Utilize all platforms. Retailers do the same to you, yet does MACY*S or Walmart wither with worry as does an actor who insecurely thinks, “If I contact a casting director via Facebook, or send an email to an agent, or send out land mail to both, they’ll hate me.”

First of all; our memories are short like a voter’s.

Secondly; retailers don’t cower that you’ll never shop or consider their services because they contacted you. Nor do their hired advertiser and/or marketer fear the client’s obscurity because of sales outreach on behalf of the client. As a marketer-in-exile I know people return to a product that was once ignored if never tried. And even if tried, and disliked, people are willing to give a person, product, or place a second chance.

“But casting director, Mr. I’m-Better-Than-You tells me never to contact him or any other casting directors via [insert platform],” you say. Good! Now you know Mr. I’m-Better-Than-You’s communication preference. But for him to speak for all casting is ludicrous. Unless he’s an omnipresent psychic, the casting director doesn’t know for certain how colleagues react to each unsolicited communication by actors. Same goes for talent agents, managers, producers, directors, or anyone in position of hiring talent.

So what’s an actor’s marketing strategy?

An actor’s unsolicited outreach options:

1. Research each hirer or representative of talent of your interest as to how they prefer to be contacted. Some will list their preference(s) on their website, or in guides like The Call Sheet.

The employers and gate-keepers who don’t publicly announce how they wish to be contacted are fair game. If you contact a casting director via Twitter, and that casting director hasn’t made public unsolicited communication preferences, then they have no right to bitch and moan when tweeted to.

Or…

2. Reach out to targeted employers and gate keepers via as many platforms as you desire. But not all at once. And don’t do so blindly. If you have no interest in print work, why contact modeling agencies? I know of too many actors who contact Legit agents for Commercial representation. Most Legit agents don’t cover commercials. Research who best matches your goals (that’s why God and Al Gore created the Internet).

In my classes, and when I teach at universities, I tire of hearing actors say, “I’ve been told by Ms. Talent-Agent-To-The-Muses never to contact talent agents via social networks.” That’s only that talent agent’s personal preference blindly blanketing the industry, and hobbling your marketing efforts. If I told you never to eat pickles because I loath the slimy sour phalanxes, would you? Or would you decide on your preference (or dislike) for pickles via your judgment?

From actors I don’t know I get Tweets to view their reels (which I ignore), and Facebook friend requests (to which I graciously reply the actor unfamiliar to me follow my public Facebook page or Facebook PRC group. A post of what to say to casting, agents, and directors that actors follow on social media is forth coming.)

I get unsolicited land-mail and email, to which a reply is almost always returned (sometimes weeks later). I make the choice of how I respond.

Unless your target publicly states how they wish, or don’t desire to be contacted, you firmly choose how to distribute your outreach. It’s your career, not theirs. Take control.

And on taking control: I am delighted for the success of my master class student Erica Camarano who got representation in the class a year ago and updated me with the following email:

“It’s been an amazing and busy year! I resigned with Judy Boals, and back in June I added a manager to my team: Alison Rinzel of AR Entertainment.

I booked my first two co-stars on network television this past fall on LAW & ORDER: SVU and HOSTAGES. And just this week, I booked my third co-star on CBS’ UNFORGETTABLE.

BookMoreWork_TelseyQuoteAfter taking your class, I got much more diligent about self-submitting… I am staying the course! I’m more hopeful and determined than ever. Your class was definitely a jumping off point – I tell all my friends looking for a little guidance to look you up!”

One of the last seats of the season’s final four-week master class with two casting directors, a talent agency owner, and a talent manager can be yours here: http://paulrussell.net/AMIYB_MasterClass.html

My best,
Paul

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Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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