If you are an aspiring actor, you’ve just gotten your headshots, and you’re about to start sending them out, I have what I hope is a useful piece of advice. I’m not pretending to be a casting guru. But at least from this one producers perspective, this is one of the biggest mistakes an actor can make when it comes to landing a role, and it’s something we saw happen far too many times.
So my advice is this. Before you send your headshots to any agencies or production companies, send a few out to your family and friends first, but don’t let them know it’s your picture. Attach a note that says “Whose photo do you think this is?” If your family and friends all come back saying “Duh, it’s your photo,” then great. Awesome. You are in a good place.
But if they say, “I have no idea who that girl is.” or, “He sort of looks like you, but not really,” or “Not sure, is she related to you?” or any comments that indicate your headshot may not be the world’s most accurate representation of what you really look like, or that it flat out doesn’t look like you at all, you may want to consider getting new headshots.
In some ways, the rifling through headshots part of casting is like internet dating. You are looking at a picture of someone and either you’re getting the vibe or your not. So you build all your fantasies and scenarios with this certain face (or faces) in mind. But at some point, you do have to meet this potential soul mate in person, and if they look nothing like their picture, all your illusions are shattered. Even if they are hot and super cool, it doesn’t matter. The fantasy is blown. The vibe is gone. To make matters worse, now you are questioning the honesty and integrity about this person and you’re annoyed that you’ve wasted your time.
I experienced this unnecessary barrage of negative emotions too many times during the casting process. There were headshots that hypnotized me, or would hypnotize Doug. The photos would scream “I am the soul mate of your vision of (whichever character).” So many actors we could completely envision playing these roles. So many actors we would get really exited about. So many actors that we timed our auditions slots carefully to pare or best prospects up with our best prospects.
I would have to say that about a fourth of the actors we auditioned turned out to look nothing like their headshot. Some looked so different that when they walked into the Norris Center I didn’t recognize them, even though I was holding their headshot in my hand. All those negative feelings of distrust, disillusion, and disappointment would then rush through me, which is hardly the effect any actor is trying to have on someone thinking about casting them in a movie.
So that is my one piece of advice. Photoshop your zits, erase a few wrinkles, add a little shine to your hair in post…all totally cool. But I see absolutely no merit to submitting a headshot to anyone unless it honestly looks like you.
But this is my only advice to actors at all. Outside of that, the only rule I’ve noticed is that there are no rules in casting. We even broke our own rules while casting, such as “We will only cast actors who live near Naples” or “Absolutely no more than 3 actors from Hollywood because we simply can’t afford them.”
I am under the impression that something bigger is in play here, because when an actor is meant to be a part of a film, things just come together. I guess my advice is to just keep the faith, because when it comes down to it, you will get cast in the roles that play into wherever your life is going: the roles that will lead you to have the experinces, meet, affect, and be affected by the people, and learn the lessons you were meant for on your life path.
Yes I am a bit of a hippie, but when I think about all the totally random events, twists, dips and turnarounds that went into the attachment of each actor to Still Green, as well as the relationships, friendships, lessons, and life changing experiences these kids had during those five weeks of production, a lot of which had very little to do with Still Green itself, my only conclusion is each of these actors was meant to go on this ride. Yes part of this ride happened for reasons related to Still Green, but a lot of it seemed to happen for reasons way bigger than our movie, those destiny reasons that we will never entirely understand.