By Marci Liroff
Money! Did I get your attention? As an actor you’re asked to spend SO much money on your career. Classes, private coaches, subscriptions to online sites to list your profile, the gym, voice lessons, and postcards. Postcards? You know those 5×7 color cards that you mail to EVERY CASTING DIRECTOR in town to say “howdy” and let them know you’re alive? Actors ask me this one question all the time. “Postcards? Are they worthwhile? Do you even look at them or are they tossed in the trash?” Good question! I’m here to help you save your hard earned money.
1. HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY. I get TONS (read = piles and piles) of actor postcards and headshots every day. I’d say that each casting office runs differently, but I know that I appreciate knowing what you’re up to. For me, this means send out a postcard when you have something to say….”I have a new episode on CSI/I’m in a new play/I just got a new agent/mgr”. Here’s the secret: you DO NOT have to send out a postcard just to say hello. ONLY send them out when you have some new work to tell me about or have some NEW information to share. See? I just saved you a bunch of mailings = money. DO NOT “paper the town” and send postcards to every single casting office in town. Do your research and send them out to a targeted list of casting offices that are active and are casting shows/films that your type may be right for.
2. TARGET/TRACK CASTING OFFICES INTELLIGENTLY. When you buy a bunch of address labels and send them out to every casting office in town you are wasting your precious time and money. Be specific. Here’s a solution I like. Make sure you have the most up-to- the-minute information about the casting offices you’re trying to connect with. There’s a really great company called CastingAbout. They provide the latest info on casting directors, their staff, and what they’re casting. Co-owners Brian Wold and Blair Hickey are onto something. Here’s some detailed info from one of the owners, Blair Hickey:
“As actors, we’re all trained to consider the subtext in our scripts, but many forget there’s subtext in the business side of our job as well. Too many actors spend significant time and money on “mass mailings” without any specific message (“Please consider me for anything you do…”) or, worse yet, no message at all beyond a name and number. Instead of promoting the actor, this type of message can actually come off as sort of desperate, leaving a first impression that could be interpreted as amateur or (worse yet) “wannabe.” Contrast this with a targeted and personalized message that speaks directly to the casting director’s current needs and activities — such as a postcard informing an office that you often book the types of roles they need for that new series they just picked up, or another congratulating an associate you know of his or her recent promotion. The marketing subtext of these messages are the same: You understand the business and your place in it, you do your homework, and know what’s going on around town. In other words, you’re a pro.”
CastingAbout provides actors the specific information necessary to build a target list, keep those people informed of progress and bookings, and — perhaps most importantly — stay on top of their career development as well. They track not just which CD is casting what, but where they’re located specific to each project (SO important because most of us CDs are like gypsies….we move around A LOT) — as well as each project’s current production status. And because this business moves fast, updates to CastingAbout are published to the site continuously each work day, in real time, so actors who visit the site are always presented with the latest, most up-to-the-minute information available. With features to search and research projects, print custom mailing labels, and enter private, date stamped notes. And no, I don’t get a kickback for touting their services!!
That said, I know lots of casting directors who barely look at your postcards and just dump them in the trash. You should take this into account and weigh out the benefits before repeatedly sending postcard after postcard to all the casting offices in town.
I’d love to hear from you! Let me know if sending postcards words for you (or if it’s a waste of time and money). Share your experiences!
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