Best relationship manners with a casting director

By Michael Karpienski | Last Updated: December 30, 2023
Certainly the most efficient way to get casted for projects is by having an agent. However, what if you don’t have an agent yet? Can an actor build a direct relationship with a casting director and be cast by skipping the agent step all together?
Now we return to the all important networking question . . .
Getting auditions without an agent can be possible. Of course there is the “independent film sphere,” the likes of which low-budget filmmakers scout for talent that do not always require the big fee to be hired. Instead, indie filmmakers are looking for both actors with or without agents just the same. The pool of talent increases when film makers look for unrepresented talent, and just as much those actors are more willing to work for smaller amounts and even for free to get the experience.
The principal idea is to research on which casting directors are casting without an agent. Also, recognizing the project you will be cast for is important. For example, let’s say a casting director is looking for someone for a film shoot in a small town in Virginia. More than likely if the actor has an agent, the agent will close the door immediately on the role as actors with agents can be more guarded and less open to risky projects that require travel. And conversely, an actor without an agent will take the chance. The actor will get in a car and drive as long as it takes in order to be cast for a project. This, in turn, makes casting directors and film makers more open to search for talent via self-submissions.
With that said, always keep an eye open as there are a good number of small markets where casting directors are looking for talent who self-submit. Still, those self-submitting should never be too desperate or too eager. Instead, find something in common with the casting director. Make sure that the knowledge is mutual. When actors do not get the role, which is the greatest percentage of times, take good advantage to connect with the casting director for future projects and maintain good contact checking in now and then when the time is right.
Casting directors are not gods. They are regular busy people merely facilitating a palette of options that appeal to the film director’s vision. So the important thing is to recognize that you need to be respectful. Casting directors are just human beings that require the normal amount of decency. Always demonstrate an eagerness to work on the project and keep curious about the role and the story. If you feel that you can approach your character differently from the script then you should make suggestions. But always make the suggestion before the day of the shoot itself, as to not cause any delays on set. In short, if you keep professional with the casting director and maintain professionalism at all times, you will be remembered and called back when the next project turns up later down the line. It happens all the time. Good luck!
-Fernanda Karpienski