Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Schmoozing Won't Land the Role

When asked for advice on how to make it in showbiz, Steve Martin likes to reply, "Be undeniably great."

I was very fortunate to attend a Q&A session with four of Austin's most prominent casting directors on Monday evening. When I first arrived, I felt intimidated as fellow-actors introduced themselves and asked which talent agent represents me. I sheepishly stammered that up to this point I've had no trouble booking my own work, thus no need for an agent. Then I became absolutely invisible to each one of those people as I watched them scan the auditorium for someone else to schmooze with, someone important, someone with one of the famous agents. I started to think that the evening was going to be a complete waste of my time, and would not yield anything useful.

Then the casting directors started their panel discussion. Every instinct I've ever had about professional acting was confirmed. These casting directors do NOT want gifts, birthday cards, holiday greetings or to be stalked. They want actors to show up on time to auditions, prepared with script pages, headshots (that actually look like you) and résumés in hand. They want actors to conduct themselves in a professional manner. They told us that if you're rude to the receptionist, that's points off, because no one wants to cast a diva. One casting director treated us to an anecdote about a certain producer who camps out in the waiting room incognito and observes how people conduct themselves.

Yes! Yay! Hooray! I'm so happy to hear all of this! I am professional, punctual, polite and prepared. I have zero interest in schmoozing or stalking.

I'm sending packets out to three talent agents this week to seek representation. While I don't need an agent for theatre/stage work anymore, I do need an agent if I ever hope to work in TV, films or commercials. Send happy thoughts my way.