Industry insiders' top 5 tips on successfully emailing casting directors
Sending out reams of emails to casting directors and not getting anywhere can be a touch dispiriting, and many actors simply give up on the approach all together. However, with these tips from industry interviewees, you’ll soon be creating eye-catching emails, with a long-term strategy for success in place.
Tip 1: Always have a specific reason for getting in touch
The top tip from casting directors for actors emailing them is to always have a concrete reason why. As one I spoke to for The Actor’s Career Bible emphasises, “I don’t want just a random email. Unless it’s about a show or it’s something relevant to what I’m casting, I don’t really look at them,” while another advises, “don’t send ‘Wondering if there’s anything happening?’ or ‘Please think of me for anything that’s suitable’ … because, well, yeah, that is what I do”. This rule also gives you an indication of how often to email the same person.
Tip 2: Do your research
Avoid mass mail-outs at all costs. As one career-coach I interviewed underlines, “copy and paste is obvious (to casting teams) and a massive No-No”. Instead, their advice is to tailor your emails to your recipients: “Research will give you meaningful content, and whether they bring you in or not, they will always remember that person.” Casting directors say that doing your research is especially important when you’re contacting someone new. Find out if, given the actors they normally cast, they’re likely to begin interested in what you have to offer. If so, can you highlight certain strengths (for example, skills, accents or previous credits) that will appeal to them specifically? Some casting directors even list their top tips for contacting them on their Twitter feeds or in interviews you can easily find online. Search before you send.
Tip 3: Be brief
“Get to the point in your emails,” says one casting director bluntly. Normally your reason for emailing will either be because you’re interested in a specific role or to invite them to see your latest work. Casting directors say that including just one or two of the elements listed below will give you a better chance of making a good impression:
- Positive news about your current situation; for example, you’re a recent graduate or you’ve just been cast in a show
- A reminder of any previous relationship you have with them
- The name of anyone who prompted you to make contact. As an experienced casting director explains, “when it’s a friend of a friend, you pay a bit more attention.”
- Genuine and specific compliments about their previous work
- Any strengths that make you right for their casting
- If you’re applying for a role, an invite to see you perform or a link to showreel footage
Tip 4: Smarten up your email
“Always look professional!” insists a leading career-coach, and that certainly goes for any emails you send. Interviewees for The Actor’s Career Bible offer a few simple tips: get your address as close to your acting name as possible; add a photo; include a signature with representation, IMDB, Spotlight, showreel, website … anything that shows you in a good light; learn to use links in the main body of your email, allowing casting directors to get to your show-listing or Spotlight page in one click; include a small headshot in the email, not an attachment.
Tip 5: Following up
The advice from casting directors and others is to leave a decent gap before getting back in touch. Suggestions on the right gap to leave vary but perhaps the best advice comes from one casting director: ‘Use “I’ve got something new to show you” as the rule; not, “I haven’t sent something for 6 months”’.
Tip 6: Keep the faith!
Casting directors with whom I spoke with were generally positive about actors emailing them. However, developing patience is key. A successful British actor now based in LA reveals that at the start of their career, the hit rate was low (“out of every 80 or 100 emails, I would get one or two replies”). But they explain that “1% reward can be a career-changer. If you get in with one casting director that could be two jobs with them, and that will bring you to the attention of all the other people you wrote to previously.” It’s important to remember that not getting a reply doesn’t mean you haven’t made an impression. “I might not come to your show,” says one busy casting director, “but I’ve had the contact, the name’s stuck a bit and I’m aware of what you’re doing.” Your strategy therefore, as one experienced performer explains, should be to see “contact as an ongoing process”. Write without expectation of a reply, trust your emails will be read, and that you’ll be kept in mind when the time is right. Couple emailing with other methods of marketing yourself, and you’ll give yourself a good chance of eventually getting on casting directors’ radars.