How Actors Should Book Time Off Work

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Summer is calling. We’re moments away from family reunions, vacations, and long weekends. So, here’s a bit of advice that will keep you in good graces with your talent agents and potential clients: If you know the dates you won’t be available for auditions or jobs, be sure to “book out.”

Booking out should be done by email or online, depending on your agent’s specific policies, typically a week or so in advance of the dates you won’t be available to accept auditions or bookings. Otherwise, your agents will figure you’re available and count on you.

Additionally, if you know you won’t be available for the dates of the shoot or recording session, you should not accept the audition. Never audition for anything unless you intend to accept it. That’s common professional conduct whether you’re a union talent or not.

Keep in mind this isn’t just good advice during the summer months when you’re heading out of town on vacation, the same booking-out requirements apply during the holidays in December, for afternoon getaways you don’t think matter to anyone but you and your loved one(s), when you’re heading to the dentist for a cleaning, or anytime you’re simply unavailable to audition or book a gig. Let your agent know if you’re indisposed.

Because it never fails. Just like clockwork, some huge gig will come calling the moment you head out of town. It’s Murphy’s Law. But don’t let that stop you from taking some well-deserved downtime.

Certainly, as a voice talent, there are portable recording options, provided you have:

  • A quiet place to record
  • Access to stable internet service
  • A reliable computer and mic
  • The skills and experience to execute an effective audition or session remotely

Of course, depending on where you may be heading, finding a local studio may also be an option if you happen to snag a truly worthwhile job during the one week out of the year you planned your vacation. Bonus!

One of the primary reasons your agent has confidence in you is the fact he can confidently rely on you consistently being available to the work. This is why they see you as reliable. Talent? Of course. Trained? It’s a given. Prepared? Always. Available? Absolutely—at least most of the time.

If you neglect to book out, you’ll end up making everyone associated with the project miserable—especially yourself—and you could very well destroy your professional credibility because you didn’t think booking out mattered all that much.

Be sure to check with your talent agency to determine its preferred booking out policies and procedures, and follow them to the letter. Be sure to put it in writing! As long as it’s documented, includes a date, and is done well enough in advance of your departure, all’s right with the world. By keeping your agents in the loop and letting them know when you’ll return and be ready to work, you’ll also enjoy your time off more. And it’s the professional thing to do!

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Kate McClanaghan
Kate McClanaghan is a casting director, producer, and founder of both Big House Casting & Audio (Chicago and Los Angeles) and Actors’ Sound Advice. She’s a seasoned industry veteran and actor who has trained actors and produced demos for more than 5,000 performers over her 30 years in the business.
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