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We've said it before...and we'll say it again.

PLEASE bring a headshot and resume with you to EVERY audition, whether the notice says to bring them or not. Some CD's have gone completely electronic and may not even ask for them but when they BETTER have them with you! No excuses!

For commercial auditions, also bring your Casting Frontier barcode with you. (If you have no idea what I am talking about, register for a free account at, upload your photo, stats, skills and resume and print out your barcode.) Always keep it in your wallet, just in case. Not all CD's use the barcode service and those who do don't always SPECIFY to bring the barcode in the casting it's good to be prepared.

And don't forget to always check for sides on LA Casting even though the notice didn't say sides were posted!

If you need some ideas for headshots, go to

Bring it!

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Don't be THAT actor!

Sharing another great article by Paul Russell, casting director:

(Author’s Note: Names of the participants have been altered to protect privacy.)

Dedicated Answers for Actors followers know that on occasion I’ll quietly play professional match-maker between actor and agent. Sometimes things go swimmingly. Sometimes… well, the pairing should — like the possibility of Will Ferrell frolicking as Lear — never be attempted.

Recently I noticed, via an online social network, the early career of an actress. I had never seen her work but I was peripherally aware that she was making advances on her own without the assist of a talent rep. “Heather” had worked in the civilian world for most her adult life. She hadn’t any formal, accredited arts training. She was learning the tribulations of our trade via acting books and studio classes with industry professionals. In short; Heather was coming to acting late in life with few skills but strong on ambition married with physical attractiveness. Hollywood is ripe with these Paris’, Brittanys’ and Peaches’.

I reached out to “Foundation Talent”. At first Foundation was resistant to my recommendation of their meeting Heather. But after several weeks of my lobbying the agents relented. Both parties met.

The meetings — as I was told from both actress and her potential champions — went well. Great! Heather was offered to sign with her first agency ever. Not an easy feat for an actress of her industry-viewed maturity and neophyte background. Celebration and congratulations among all were made.

Then came the confidence party-crasher un-masked to reveal unsightly insecurity.

Just hours beyond the final meeting and shortly after business hours of the agency Heather left a lengthy voice-mail for her new representation. The recorded message, as I was told by one of the agents, was allegedly probing and rambling. Shortly thereafter that same evening Heather followed up her voice-mail with an e-mail. A copy to each agent she met with. Her intent was to reinforce her phone message; the one that the agents would discover upon returning to work the next day.

Below is Heather’s e-mail:

“Hi Toby,

It was great meeting you both! I left you a voicemail at the office stating I’d love to sign and work together. I know you said the office concentrates on film, TV & theatre equally but because of time and money, I would not be able to commit to theatre projects at this time. If you are fine with this, I’d love to come on board Foundation Talent!!

I look forward to hearing from you guys tomorrow. If you get this tonight, you can call me.”

Oh Heather…
The yet to be officially-signed actress was showing signs of insecurity and neediness. Worse she displayed several unrealistic expectations; the most obvious being an after-hours return call. Even a signed client rarely receives such courtesy from their agents unless it’s of vital importance; an offer of work, an audition for the next morning, or a medical emergency. Heather — while thinking her questions not out of line — was coming off as obsessive, needy and unmindful of boundaries. Agents, at any agency, are very wary of this behavior.

Her phone message and near simultaneous e-mail were not reinforcing the positive impressions the agents had of Heather from the meetings. As I’ve said many, many times; this industry is all about “image, image and image.” Heather was tarnishing hers.

She further besmirched her meeting-polish by sending yet another e-mail that same night. The second missive (immediately following the first and the voice-mail made an hour prior) typed to only one of the agents but addressed to both.

“Hi Don & Toby,

Again, it was a real pleasure meeting you today. I have a few more questions.

-Do you focus equally on film, TV and theatre? More film & TV than theatre, or visa-versa?

-How long of a contract were you thinking of?

-How much commission goes to Foundation Talent?”


Waiter? Check please!!

I should never have sat at this table and invited all to join me in what was unraveling to be a poisonous affair.

Heather’s questions may seem innocuous to actors new to the business but the inquiries revealed that she had not been listening during her meeting with Foundation. Also, Heather, an avid reader of business of acting books, had access to this basic information regarding agents. Obviously she wasn’t doing her homework. Franchised agents are only permitted by the unions to receive 10% commission on commissionable projects. Contracts between an actor and an agency are either for one or three years. No less. No longer. Union rules.
Not only was the second e-mail further displaying insecurities but it also raised concerns as to how trusting Heather was. Would Heather be a client constantly contacting the office about breakdowns she either heard about or got through other sources? Would she be able to let go of auditions and not ask for feedback on each? (Casting directors do not give feedback for every actor. If we did we’d have no time to be in auditions from which we could garner feedback.)

Now these points may seem like assumptions to you but the agents having been on this side of the table for decades with clients of varying caliber and notoriety have seen — by many inappropriate behaving actors — the same red flags Heather’s behavior signaled to indicate that this was not going to be a smooth journey together as equal partners. And so an e-mail from one of the agents went out to Heather in response:

“Hi Heather,

Thank you for your email. Toby and I have spoken at length regarding this. We both feel strongly that perhaps we are not the fit for you. We completely understand your reasons for sticking to film and television solely at this point, however, we truly believe that at this point in your career, it is not wise to push aside any possibility, be it in any one of the three mediums. Rather than push you towards theatre after knowing your needs, we would urge you rather to seek elsewhere and keep us posted on your future endeavors.

It was truly a pleasure meeting with you, and we wish you great luck in your future endeavors.”

A polite “thanks but no thanks". But the email volleys continued. Beginning again by Heather:

“Hi Don,

I hope you are well. I just wanted to express my concern in greater detail so that you and Toby don’t get confused or discouraged by what I stated in my previous email to Toby.

I am not one to push aside any possibility, especially at the level I’m at in my career. My only concern is, and correct me if I’m wrong, that I understand there is not much money in theatre and requires a lot of time rehearsing and then performances. I do understand if I book a nice role in a big film and I am required to be on set for let’s say 3 weeks in LA, yes, there is time commitment there too but I would be making more money, which would allow me to commit the time to that project…”

Overall communication just wasn’t working here. Too much passive-aggressive keyboarding. And yet the font continued to fly back and forth. Foundation’s response:


My email to you was in response to the emails which makes me nervous enough to forgo a relationship.

So sorry Heather but we are going to have to pass.”

And the volley back from Heather:

“Thanks everyone. I’m not sweating it. It’s simply another chapter in my life as an actor. An experience that continues to shape who I am. One day I will be one of those incredible stories on the E Channel where certain industry professionals regretted not working with Heather Stumpp. I look forward to the day I share my successes with an agent who truly believes in me.”

Is that a bridge I smell burning?

After all this back-n-forth Heather finally made a communication in person. She arrived unannounced at the office of Foundation Talent to ask that the head-shot and resume she presented at the first meeting be returned.



Instead of wasting my and your time with a lengthy explanation as to just how inappropriate this action was let me put it simply with a five word question.

Are you f'ng kidding me?!?!

I continue to be amazed how some people prematurely put nails into their own coffins. Also, how many times do you as an actor go back to an audition for which you weren’t hired and demand return of your picture and resume? Or in the civilian world after a job interview — which bears no profitable outcome — do you ask for your application or resume to be returned? (If you answered ‘sometimes’ to ‘always’; you need a happy-pill prescription accompanied by several slaps of reality. Fast.)

Moral of all this?

When meeting with an agent; listen.

After the meeting; respect boundaries. The agents will respect yours, please return in kind.

If and when you have an agent and if that agent has been doing their job successfully for longer than you’ve had pubic hair; trust that they are doing the best for everyone’s mutual interests. Remember this simple truth: You don’t make money, they don’t make money. It’s that obvious.

As of this writing Heather has yet to get that E Channel expose. But she has auditioned and met with a plethora of agents yet remains unrepresented in either LA or NYC. There’s a cause for patterns. It’s called repetitive behavior.

‘Nuff said.

Written by casting director Paul Russell.
Original post located at

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Great advice from casting director PAUL RUSSELL:

THIS WEEK’S TIP: Part 2 of 2 Negotiating Black Market Breakdowns
This has got to stop. Actors paying thieves for black market breakdowns. Especially actors with representation.Last week’s Part 1 of this blog caused a stir. It also prompted a reader to send me an e-mail he received from a thief selling the black market breakdowns. Attached to the e-mail was an example of the breakdowns. I couldn’t f****** believe it. Disgusting is the best I can say of the e-mail’s contents.Here was someone preying on actor vulnerability and profiting off of actors by committing a serious crime of fraud and theft. Actors who engage in buying these breakdowns are just as culpable and can be prosecuted as well. I immediately contacted Breakdown Services. More than likely the person who was selling the illegal Breakdowns is/was an intern or an assistant at a talent agency. Agencies pay a subscription fee to receive the Breakdowns. And Breakdown Services scrutinizes their subscribers. Joe-blow-off-the-street can’t get a talent agency subscription from Breakdown Services.

Now, actors with talent representation who receive black market breakdowns: Stop it. Beyond the illegality of the act you’re jeopardizing your relationship with your agent. For those with or without an agent who may be wondering how…. here we go:

The represented actor getting the illegal breakdowns often calls their agent and says, “I just saw on Breakdowns a role that I want to be submitted for…” The agent does one of two things (or both) rolls their eyes and reminds the actor, in terse tone, that as an agent THEY get the breakdowns and submit appropriate clients. After the call is ended, the agent usually mumbles to another agent in the office, “We need to drop that one.”

When an actor phones an agent with the, “I just saw on Breakdowns…” call; immediately the agent is thinking, “This client doesn’t trust me. Why should I be representing them?” Agents hate, repeat; HATE clients who use this supposed proactive choice for career advancement. Often the client doesn’t advance, they lose representation.

Agents talk to me often about this, including my partner who owns a talent agency. It’s one of the surest ways for a client to stop being a client. If you’re still not convinced think of it this way. Calling up your agent and telling them you saw a role on Breakdowns you think you’re right for, is equal to one actor giving another actor performance notes. It’s wrong. It’s rude. It’s not professional. And it needs to stop!

Trust that your agent is doing the best that they can for your interests. Stop engaging in activity that could bring serious charges against you and cost you money, time, reputation AND representation.

And finally; a reader asked me, “Is it effective for actors living beyond the metro areas of New York or LA to subscribe to Actor’s Access?” (Breakdown Services subscription service to actors). No. Most of the auditions are in NY or LA. Auditions come quickly after they are announced. You need to be living in or near the area that the majority of auditions that are happening. Casting personnel don’t want to bother with actors who submit themselves for an audition in NY or LA when the actor permanently resides in bum-fuck Kansas. (No offense to Kansas, my finger just went for the “K” key and there were only two state options after that. I’ll offend the blue-grass moonshiners another time).

So, wrap up here. Represented actors, stop using and paying for illegal breakdowns. Stop calling your agent with the, “I just saw on Breakdowns…” call. Unrepresented actors, I do not condone or suggest the use of illegal breakdowns. But if you do engage in that illicit warned, you are committing a crime.

Article written by Paul Russell, casting director
Original article:

Great advice!