confessions of a casting director: generals

An extremely satisfying part of my job is finding and meeting actors in obscure nooks & crannies, under rocks, and sometimes right under my nose.  Whenever a project comes along, I like to know who is out there and what they can do, hence, my passion for “generals”.

My recent session in Richmond, VA was a pleasure – when else do I get to know actors for who they are and not for a specific character?

A general is an audition, of sorts.  We’re not meeting for coffee and shooting the breeze, although it is much looser than an audition where you are reading for a role.  Your behavior, as always, translates into professionalism.  Here are few examples.

  1. Confirming your audition time promptly translates into you being capable of communicating with production when hired.
  2. Arriving on time puts into motion the confidence that you will report to set on time.  And “on time” means five minutes early.  Enough time to arrive, take off your coat, sign in and be ready to meet at your appointed time.  Showing up an hour early does not help you – would you arrive at your husband’s boss’ party an hour early?  Enough said.
  3. Bringing a professional headshot (or two) deems you as professional and serious about your acting career.
  4. Listen.  I know this is supposed to be about you, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to get to know me a little bit too.  If I’m sharing a story, this is your invitation to find common ground so that the conversation can continue.
  5. Have your own story, be ready to share something about yourself.  It does not need to be, nor should it be, your entire life story.  Something you are passionate about.  I want to know what makes actors tick, as people.  I’ll get insight into your thinking.
  6. Be ready to do anything you’ve listed under the special skills section of your resume.  I have asked actors for that monkey call, to tie that cherry stem in a knot, to do that impression, and to speak/translate a passage in another language.  If it’s written there, it’s fair game.  And it’s fun!  Definitely a good reason to have a special skills section on your resume in the first place.
  7. Have two filmatic monologues “in your back pocket”, one comedic & one dramatic.  Now, I say “filmatic” because I work in film and television.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard a classical theatre piece when what I really want is a filmatic, intimate, camera-ready conversation.  Select something from a screenplay or a television series, and make it your own.  Do not rely on monologue books as I (and I speak for many other CDs as well) have heard them all repeatedly.  Now, here’s the tricky part.  The monologue you select will represent your taste in character and genre.  This is helpful to me, it helps to give me a starting point in what material may be a good match for you when I bring you in for a project.
  8. Remember that this is YOUR time. If you have a question, ask.  If you have a thought or a goal or a dream, share it.  If you have a comment, make it.  Use your time to make a good, positive, professional impression!

Of course, this is the tip of the iceberg, more to come later!




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