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Secret Agent Man

1 Way to Really Make a Casting Director Angry

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1 Way to Really Make a Casting Director Angry
Photo Source: Pete McDonnell

In my world, there are good days and there are bad days. And at the end of a really bad day, I like to have a drink. Maybe two.

Last week, I had an especially bad day. None of my pitches earned audition times, a promising deal went south, and a larger company stole one of my favorite clients.

When a day goes that badly, I have a choice. I can cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war, or I can treat myself to some high-end Scotch.

As I walked into my favorite tavern, I spotted a familiar face at the bar. The guy was in his 40s, dressed in a suit. He looked up and recognized me.

There was a moment of tension. That’s what happens when competitors run into each other, but the tension faded quickly. In the friendly warmth of a bar, we were just two guys in the same line of work who needed a drink.

An hour later, the horrors of the day had faded and the two of us were sharing war stories. We decided to compare notes on the worst client–casting director encounter we had ever experienced.

His story was about a client named Steve who had a big audition for a sci-fi show set in outer space. The language was tricky because most of it was made-up jargon about dilithium crystals and other hard-to-pronounce words. But Steve was a trained stage actor and that’s what got him in the room.

After reading for casting, Steve was told to come back in three hours so he could meet the producers. The casting director went out of her way to explain how impressed she was with his command of language.

Unfortunately, Steve got cocky and left his sides in the car when he came back. The guy figured he’d make a stronger impression by not having the pages in his hands. That was a bad plan because under the pressure of a callback, Steve forgot how to pronounce all those tricky words. So the read was a mess. He left the room with his tail between his legs and zero chances of booking the job.

As Steve was walking back to his car, something smacked him in the back of the head. It felt like the giant wings of a vampire bat. Startled, Steve turned around and found himself face-to-face with the angry casting director, who had just hit him with the sides from the audition.

She ripped him a new one, explaining he was an idiot for leaving the sides in his car and that she was furious that he made her look bad in front of her producers. She vowed never to have him in again.

I sighed. That was a tough one. Agents work hard to get their clients in front of casting directors, and it’s demoralizing when auditions go badly.

My friend finished off his drink and explained that after six months, he was able to convince the casting director to give Steve another chance. And during that read, the guy kept the sides glued to his hands and he booked the job.

I smiled and motioned for another round. It was a good story but mine was better—much better. I’ve shared it with several agents and none of them could believe it actually happened. But as we all know, truth is stranger than fiction.

Tune in next week for all the gory details…

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