YASSSSS!!! You had your callback and it felt Good! You were in the zone, reactions from the Director and Agency were positive, everyone was smiling and you had a little pep in your step when you left the room! You Know you did a great job because you Got Put on Hold!! Congratulations! But the big question is always…what happens now?? And when the heck can you breathe again?!
Knowing how it all works may help to settle your nerves a wee bit.
First a little background. While the callbacks are happening the director/agency are taking notes. They are deciding in real time who is a No and who is a Maybe. At the end of the session they will have a stack of choices - often with notes attached ie: “loved the energy”, “great smile!”, “would he shave?”, “maybe try for husband role as well?”. These notes will usually be made directly on your headsheet (or copy of your headsheet) and will help to remind them of what you looked like and what was special about you.
There is usually more than one spot per commercial project. There is a very clear vision of how the actors in each spot should look and ‘be’. There is a wish list for the age, ethnicity, energy level, and acting ability as well as any skills required. The team will then pull from the maybe piles and build a selection of who they think is the best actor for each spot. Usually labeled something like 1st Choice, 2nd Choice, 3rd Choice, Backup. The callback auditions are reviewed multiple times before choosing. There is a lot of mixing and matching! They may be trying to build a family and need to find a mom,dad and kids that look like they could actually be a 'real family'. They could also be putting together a believable couple, office workers with interesting cross demographics, or actors with special skills that meet the requirements for a specific spot. It is tough going! Everyone will have their favorites and will fight for them – but the fit has to be just right and everyone has to agree.
Once the team has made their top selects for each spot, they are gathered together, uploaded to a link and presented to the client for Final approval.
At this point, casting gets in touch with the talent agents and the selected actors are put On Hold for the shoot dates. Your agent will then call you to let you know you are on hold! Give yourself a big pat on the back…you are one of the chosen few! Please make sure at this point to change Nothing about your appearance, and make no plans on any of the shoot dates!
Sometimes, we will share with the talent agent if the actor is 1st choice or not, but not always! We know that 1st choice can become a no go and ‘back ups’ can become 1st choice in the blink of an eye! So we usually try to keep it as a simple hold until we hear back on how the client felt about the choices. (Don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up only to dash them to the ground if we don’t have to! It’s tough enough already!)
Things can really get down to the wire during the Booking process.
Sometimes the choices presented are magic, the client loves them and we can book straight away! However, the client may also feel that the suggested actors are Not a good fit. It will be back to the drawing board to review the callback session for alternatives - sometimes even going back as far as reviewing the original auditions! Frequently, we are asked to do additional casting, and just by the nature of it, it is last minute. This can be because the client’s vision has changed, a role has been changed, or the client simply isn’t happy with the options that have been put forward. It is a stressful for sure! Time is slipping by and there are so many departments waiting for the bookings so that the job can move ahead! Production is waiting so that they can get in touch with agents with locations and final shoot dates as well as getting their pre-pro books ready. Wardrobe is biting at the bit to get out and start shopping for the perfect attire – which Also needs to get approved! Your agent is eager to know so that they can let you know what's happening and start to get their paperwork together.
This behind the scenes mayhem can mean you may not know that you are booked until the very last minute!
It has happened that we haven't called out bookings until late on the evening before shoot day!
We promise - we are not holding off telling you because we don’t care about you! We know you are excited and that your whole life is basically on hold until you hear from us.
Usually though, it’s a pretty quick turnaround - within a week of the callback. If you reach shoot day and you haven’t heard anything, you can be pretty confident that you didn’t book the spot. BUT…sometimes, if there are many spots to be shot, talent bookings can still be in the works at the same time they are shooting! So, if the shoot dates spread over a few days, you may still be in the running!
Some newer actors may be tempted to get in touch with the casting director to ask if there have been any decisions yet or when you might hear back. Please don’t. The old adage holds true here, “Don't call us. We'll call you.” Casting directors can be crazy busy, have many projects going on, and their main focus is to tend to their client’s needs. Believe me, they are eager to get the booking process completed as well! They can then wrap the job and put their full attention on to the next task at hand…or take a much needed break! You can be sure that your agent will be in touch with you the minute they know. It's an exciting time for them too!
We do try and release remaining talent on hold as soon as we get confirmed bookings. We appreciate that you have lives to lead, as well as other roles you may be on hold for. And of course we DO want you to get you back to Breathing Again!
The bottom line is - Hang in there. Try not to fret too much - the whole thing truly is out of your control.
Oh...and Good Luck!
Was this article helpful to you? I love getting feedback and will do my best to answer any other questions you have. You can leave your comments below. :)
Thank you and see you soon!