I openly admit my knowledge of what it takes to be a successful actor, and how to get cast regularly, may be somewhat limited, but as a producer of my own work I'm often left with a niggling feeling of wanting to bang my head against a hard wall
Read the breakdown carefully
I know there's a lot of information for you to take on (sorry!) every time you apply for a job, but each project is unique and there is a lot of information we would like you to know. If you don't read the breakdown carefully, you're at an obvious disadvantage straight away. I can always tell when someone has simply clicked through to the apply page and ignored half the information I spent hours typing up - they ask questions! Admittedly, some productions may not give you all the necessary info needed, in which case, this production should likely be equally avoided. Also, by reading the breakdown, you might actually see that the role/project isn't right for you - making all the effort you make applying somewhat pointless. Another reason for reading the breakdown carefully is that you'll be able to make reference to it in your application - showing an interest will go a long way.
This one is to not be understated. Most of the actors (if not all) I cast and then re-cast are very likeable. Unless a project is gunning for an Oscar, I assume most producers don't want a difficult or unlikeable cast. They want to know someone is reliable, friendly and hard-working. For me, those three things are perhaps more important than talent. I'd much prefer to hire someone I like who is good, than someone who is great but will get on my nerves. Being likeable has a huge affect on your cast-ability, and I'm not sure it can be taught. But for me, someone who takes an interest but isn't overly keen or demanding, is going to be very likeable. I often ask myself, would I go to the pub with them? I enjoy working with my friends and likeable people. Most people do.
Network, but don't job tout
If you can build a friendly, but professional, relationship with a producer, then you'll be on your way. You can do this easily enough by networking online - start by watching a few short films, and contacting the filmmakers directly. Tell them you like the film and admire their work. Better yet, ask some questions, take an interest! I started a facebook group called Short Film Sharer for this exact purpose. Perhaps my favourite actor I've worked with a bunch of times over the years, originally contacted me on facebook and told me how much he enjoyed a film I had just made - I've hired him 6/7 times since. I'm not saying this is the only way to get hired, nor will it guarantee you anything, but it does go a long way! More importantly, he didn't job tout. "Hey, if there's a part going...". Job touting is a pet-peeve of mine, as any filmmaker taking themselves seriously isn't going to hire someone just because they asked to be remembered (it comes down to talent and suitability) - plus my memory isn't that great. But if you set aside some time each day to network, your seeds will grow and blossom into something magical - I guarantee it (and assuming you can act). At worse, you would have made a new friend. Good networking is the key to building a successful career.
Stay off social media!
Admittedly, there are some benefits to social media, but there's perhaps nothing more irritating than seeing someone complain or moan on social media. It's really off putting. If you want to be taken seriously, get off social media. It's of no use to anyone to know what you've had for breakfast, or how much you hate the trains. If you can't stay off it, have a private account for personal use and keep the two accounts separate. Use social media to promote your work, but don't gloat, moan or over share, as it'll only make you less 'cast-able'. Also, try not to stalk people. Liking everything, making comments, blah blah blah, won't do you any favours either. Trust me. It's again, very off putting. Try to use social media to network and connect with like-minded individuals. I've never cast someone from being friendly on social media, but it's good for the soul to share positivity.
Practise your craft
"What? I have to practice acting?!"... You wouldn't believe how many people I come across who don't. There seems to be an attitude amongst many new graduates (not all, but many!) who feel that because they've now got a degree, they're ready for the big time. Unfortunately we often hear these amazing stories of actors who got cast in a big hollywood-blockbuster straight from drama school (I actually think it's how drama schools sell themselves), well I'm sorry to say, you've got a better chance winning the lottery. So for the rest of us, we've got to practice, practice, practice. When you're asked to self-tape, see this as an opportunity to practice your craft, not to waste your time. Do several takes and watch it back, don't rush through. Try to think about what you're seeing from the directors point of view - are you believable? Are you demonstrating the character well? Are you making interesting choices? If there's something you notice, go back and change it. When I write a script, very rarely do I send out the first draft - I look back over it and make changes.
Lastly, get a great showreel
If you don't have a great showreel, or worse, not at all, you are going to be very un-cast-able. Sorry! When I receive an application from someone explaining to me why they don't have a showreel yet, very often I don't have time to follow-up with them and work out a way how we can get some clips together so then can apply - there's just not enough time in the day. More and more castings are taking place online, so you absolutely must get a GREAT showreel together. If you don't have a great showreel, this should be your number 1 priority if you're taking your career seriously. It's probably going to be the best way for you to become more cast-able and to get a job! A showreel should also be never finished - things can always be improved. If you have a showreel and you think it's pretty great, send it to people, ask for opinions. I'm 100% sure they'll spot something you didn't.
Thank you for reading 'How To Make Yourself Cast-able'
I've been making films for over ten years now, so my thoughts and opinions have formed from that practical experience. Therefore my biggest piece of advice is to go out there and try it for yourself - it's the best way to learn. If you agree or disagree with any of my points, I'd love to hear from you. Tweet @DHshowreels with your suggestions!