Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Should I Take a Casting Director Workshop?

I get asked this question A LOT.  Since I've taken many CD workshops, I consider myself kind of an expert on this subject and am always happy to offer advice.  Exposure and on-going training are important but as struggling performers our funds are limited.  How do you decide which workshop to take or if it's even worth it?

Here are a few questions to ask before you sign up.

#1 - What is this casting director currently working on? 

If the CD hasn't cast anything current and isn't involved in casting anything that you would interested in, then pass.  You want to work with a CD who is seeing actors on an almost daily basis, working on a current series or casting feature films (or even commercials) that you might be a good fit for.  These CD's  know the trends in acting, the feel of the shows and films and what the decisions makers want.  They see who is getting cast and why and can share that knowledge with you.

#2 - Am I ready?

This is where you really need to be honest with yourself.  Are you ready to show a prominent casting director what you have to offer?  Yes, you are there to learn but if your chops aren't quite up to par then you risk showing them that you aren't up to the task.  Casting director workshops are something you should do after you have some classes and credits under your belt.  Think of it as a master class with exposure. 

#3 - Will exposure with this CD benefit me? 

Let's face it, a big part of taking workshops with CD's is for the exposure.  They are, after all, the ones getting you through the door for auditions.  This may be your (paid for) opportunity to get in front of a particular CD that otherwise might not see you.  These workshops absolutely, positively help with exposure. I've seen actors plucked from obscurity and cast into feature films due to a casting director workshop. It simply works.    

A word on preparation, this may seem like a no-brainer but if you have a scene to prepare beforehand, PREPARE IT!  I can't tell you how many workshops I've attended where actors show up totally unprepared when they've had the sides in advance.  That's a surefire way to show that you aren't professional. 

#4 - What are they teaching?

Besides the obvious benefit of exposure, you're there to learn too.  So, what should you expect a casting director to teach you?  Due to the fact that they are seeing hundreds of actors each month, you should expect to learn a thing or two about auditioning techniques and what makes you stand out in a sea of actors.  There are many subtleties in audition technique that can separate you from the competition and CD's are full of little gems that work.  A writer/director/producer teaching a workshop that I attended recently told the class that he only watches 10 seconds of each audition before skipping to the next.  You don't have the luxury to "warm-up" in your audition.  You MUST get their attention at the top and keep it.   They know how you can do that and are there to share it with you.  Be sure to ask lots of questions too, make the most of the experience and make sure you get what you want out of it. 

Because of asking those questions in advance, I've never regretted one workshop I've taken.  They have all more than paid for themselves in the amount of networking contacts and jobs I've booked from either the CD that held the workshop or others that I met while there.  Next time you get a paid booking, budget some of that money for a future workshop.  It's an investment that very well could lead to more work.


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