Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Laborious Letters to Casting Agencies

No longer feeling under the weather, but there's a lot of catching up to do.  I told myself I'd have my new headshots out to casting agencies by the 11th, so I've been laboring over the cover letters so everything would be ready to go as soon as my new headshots arrived.  Headshots are still in transit.  Also, the whole process has not been as easy as I thought.

To begin with, there was a little too much retouching initially done on my photo proofs.  I don't fault the photographer - a lot of actors want that "perfect" look - but when I walk in the door to audition I feel like I should look like my photo and not one of the Stepford Wives.

When I was researching the business side of acting the biggest complaint I heard from casting directors out in Los Angeles was actors who didn't look like their headshots.  So I had the photographer redo them and then two weeks later Sandy Stern, one of the doyennes of casting in the Baltimore-Washington area and certainly someone whose opinion I respect, took a look at one of my old headshots (also lightly retouched) and took me to task (in a nice way) for showing the lines on my face.  Arrggghhh!!!

I guess the debate is over whether you should look like you actually do or look like you potentially could look with the right make-up.  There's a film actress on YouTube who advises on headshots.  She holds up her own for the camera and she looks glamorous and gorgeous, but in the video she is wearing no makeup, has dark circles under her eyes and looks like death.  You would never pick her out of a lineup on the basis of that photo!

Besides the retouching issue, my nearest and dearest weighed in on what I had on in the shots.  I was going to print the headshot with the black jacket and the headshot with the denim jacket so I'd have a formal look and a casual "Mom" look, but I got a chorus of "Oh no, you're not going to use that denim shot are you?!! That's not you!"  I ended up printing just the black jacket headshot and the 3/4 shot. (All 3 are at right.)  Boo.  A wasted photo. Gee, I thought the shot with the denim jacket looked nice.

Then on to the letters.  I found a cover letter example in Bonnie Gillespie's book, but there are also 9 very good examples of cover letters on the smart phone app Actsophia Lite (the basic free version). I'll choose one to use as a model - rephrasing, plugging in my own experience and whatever personal info I thought might make me unique, and then personalizing wherever possible with those casting directors I knew.

Of course, all of this is just to get my foot in the door to audition for the agencies. It's tough.  They want to have an idea of what you can do before sending you out to audition for an actual job.  You can't fault them for that.

Sending my voiceover CD along with the photos.  My demo reel is still in process, but should be finished soon.  Most of the agencies here don't ask for a demo reel with the photos.  That comes later when they meet with you. If I have to send it I have an opportunity for a follow up letter, so it's not all bad.  Also, I have a couple of clips on my website.

A lot of work, but I feel more confident with the experience I can show now than I would have felt a year ago. I've joined AFTRA.  Building my stage experience.   Making progress.


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