Updated: May 20
"I feel like I submit to a million things on breakdown websites and I never hear anything back! I don’t think my agent is really doing anything to help me, maybe I should just drop them. They probably aren’t really submitting me for much with how few auditions I’ve gotten right?"
Every actor aspiring to be working at the highest level has said these words before. It can be frustrating to go through an audition drought even though there is a plethora of material being cast that fits you perfectly. It’s one of the tough realities of this industry. You will not audition for all the projects you would be perfect for.
So if I’m not getting an audition from a submission, then what's the point of even looking at a submission report? It’s just going to depress me right?
The emotional taxation of submission reports
Submission reports present a double-edged sword of an opportunity. While yes, it can be emotionally draining to review all the projects that decided not to audition you for the part, the information gained from performing some basic analysis could be the thing that starts changing how many times you get called in by a casting office.
First things first is that you have to make peace with the fact that you are not going to get called in for every role that suits you, and It’s not about your talent. Casting offices pour over thousands of tiny thumbnails of headshots to only bring in a dozen people for a 5 line part, in the game of odds, it's not always going to be in your favor. The sooner you can accept that the sooner you can stop taking not getting called in personally, and move on to focusing on how you can get called in more in general.
How to breakdown your submission reports
Request from your agency that a report be emailed to you for the previous month. Be POLITE in this request, a lot of times people request reports with an entitled attitude, assuming that they aren’t being called in because they aren’t getting submitted (only to find out that the agent has submitted them hundreds of times). If you don’t have an agent, you can still review your own submissions! Auditioning sites like actors access and Backstage keep archives of everything you’ve submitted for, just go back through your last month and write the information down for everything you’ve submitted yourself for.
Your basic math for the day
Count your total number of submissions and divide it by the number of times you were called in, this will give you the average of submissions needed for an audition. Over months you can review to see how these averages shift depending on factors like an influx of projects, changes in personal materials, extenuating circumstances (#COVID), and other things. Now this average is not to be used as a permanent indicator of when you will be getting called in, but more of a reminder that building a career in the arts is a long process. For example. In the past four months since signing with my agency, I have been submitted 307 times and called in 15 of those times. That averages out to 20 submissions per audition. Now, what I don’t do is count my submissions expecting that every 20th one will result in an audition, that’s only a little unrealistic and possibly delusional (ask your therapist friends what they think). Instead, I look at that number and remind myself that success in this field is not an overnight endeavor, it takes potentially thousands of submissions to get the role. So stay consistent and always submit even when you feel down about it, it will only boost your odds.
Who are all these casting offices?
Reading all the different casting offices you’ve been submitted to is like reading the phone book. So many random, one-off offices that you’ve never heard of. The good news is that we don’t need to focus on the names we don’t recognize, we need to focus on the individuals who we get submitted to the most. So pick up a pen and start tallying how many times you have been submitted to each office for the month. Are there a few names that are starting to stick out? Fantastic, you just found the offices that are casting the most amount of projects that you could be in. I would advise keeping consistent track of who you get submitted to each month. Not everything runs for ten seasons and sometimes the offices that you get submitted to the most will change. Keeping active review over this is important.
So I know the offices I get submitted to, so what?
Time to bust out your internet sleuthing skills. IMDB is a fantastic resource for this, and you don’t even need a premium account. Searching for your top casting directors on IMDB immediately provides you with a list of every single project they’re casting. So now not only do you know what shows have the most roles that match your demographic, but you can watch these shows to understand the tone or genre this CD usually works on.
Now the catch here is that not every casting director gravitates toward a particular genre. There are plenty who pick projects because they sound interesting not because they match their portfolio, but reviewing this information can still provide insights into the work of a particular CD. It creates a more solid foundation to explore the work of a particular office. You can never predict what someone wants, but you can recognize patterns in someone’s behaviors.
It’s time for class
Picking classes to take with casting directors has always been such a gamble for me. Sometimes I leave feeling amazing, while other times like I just wasted 80 dollars for three hours of nothing. Knowing your top submission offices however can change this, because you now have an intention for getting into someone’s class. Even if a class you take with one of your top submission offices isn't the most enlightening experience of your life, you have just guaranteed that the person watching your work will see your face again, and hopefully, associate the work with your face. You can't expect to be cast from taking class, it’s not in your control and is not the purpose of an educational environment. What you can control, however, working in front of the offices who may be more likely to see your face again.
Remember, none of this work can guarantee that you will book more roles. What it can do for you is provide a different perspective to the nebulous act of submitting for projects you’ve never heard of that you will never hear from. Best of luck and remember, there’s always another opportunity around the corner!
Cheers to you, from one unestablished artist to another.