When working in a smaller market, you can sometimes feel that not getting a callback with a certain casting director is a personal issue. David tells the reality of the situation and how to handle it.
I live in an area where only a few casting directors basically cast everything and one of them just does not like me. I NEVER get a callback from her. What should I do? Bethany M., Jacksonville, FL
Hear this or quit auditioning: The casting director does not need to like you to cast you. I am not laughing at you, but I find it funny how actors equate not getting cast with not being liked. Listen, a casting director’s reputation and future jobs are predicated on putting the best talent in front of the director and producers of a project. If you are NEVER getting called back it is ALWAYS because you are not auditioning well.
Instead of fighting for what the character wants in the scene, you are fighting for what YOU, the actor, wants from the casting, and that is a job killer. It plays out like this: You feel not liked. You go to the casting session to fight to BE liked. You do NOT fight for the character’s needs. Every time you audition while putting your personal needs ahead of the character’s needs, the audition will suffer. Furthermore, aside from technique, when you feel you are not liked by casting directors, it is usually just in your head. Most of the time the casting director is not even aware of you unless you have either rocked an audition or done something incredibly stupid.
Remember, the casting is not about being friends; it is about CASTING. You cannot take it personally if you feel unappreciated because you are not cast. Far too many variables are at play, and all you can control is performing at a high level and behaving professionally. If you are used to being cast by the other casting director, then it is likely a simple matter of getting over yourself and performing well for her also. If you are not really being cast often by anyone, perhaps you need to be honest with yourself and go learn how to audition. If you do this, I assure you things will change.
There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. If the casting director does indeed have a personal dislike for you because you remind her of some bully from school or an evil dentist that gives her nightmares, one thing is certain: it is up to you to change that impression, and the only way to do that is to be excellent every time you read for her.
One last note: a casting director will not give the jerk the benefit of the doubt, so if in fact there is a legitimate reason for the casting director to not like you then simply stop being an idiot.
How do I show surprise? Jeff H., Tacoma, WA
Anyone can make a face, however laughable or dishonest. Showing surprise isn’t the real problem: you must BE surprised. The key to being surprised, just as with every discovery you make, is to be in the moment. Keep your mind in the “now” when you are engaged in dialogue, when you are turning a corner, when you are slapped, etc., and then respond to the stimulus. You must train your conscious mind to forget what comes next while still honoring the rehearsal, and blocking, and experience every moment for the first time, every time.
– David H. Stevens
David H. Stevens has been a professional actor and producer for over 15 years and has a been a student for nearly 30. He has appeared in more than fifty films and television shows, produced countless short films, commercials and stage plays and has been the owner and operator of two production studios.
Most recently he started in Robert Redford’s The American West as Jesse James on AMC. He is currently the owner and operator of Stevens Brothers Media, a film and commercial production company based in Salt Lake City, UT and is also the co-owner of Dalton/Stevens Enterprises, a television and motion picture company specializing in the process of business and creative development.
Sevens attended college at Southern Utah University. While there he became a national power with the speech and debate team winning over 100 awards across the United States. Since then he has been seen working along such notable actors as Philip Seymore Hoffman, Adam Sandler, Glenn Close, Scott Glenn and Anthony Hopkins. He has also worked with Academy Award winning directors Paul Thomas Anderson and Cameron Crowe as well as the legendary producer James L. Brooks.
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Last modified: August 13, 2017