I feel it important to be upfront about things and I had someone ask me a question that sets off alarms in my head and my heart. Someone had cancelled a photo shoot he had set up with a photographer I was working with to provide discounted head shots to those in need of an update. He was afraid that because he had cancelled with me, that it would have an impact on if I would cast him or not. The answer is that whether or not you take up offers from Hudson Valley Casting, it has no bearing on your being cast in something or not. The important thing is that he wasn't a NO SHOW (I don't like no shows) he cancelled with plenty of notice. It makes me sad to think that an actor is thinking that they should spend the last money they have on head shots so I will cast them. NO! Head shots done well can help, but if it is a choice of eating or head shots, please EAT!
Another thing that I want to share openly is that my husband, Wayne Pyle, is the coach I work with at Hudson Valley Casting. WHY? Because he is great! Because he has a MFA in acting! Because he has taught acting at colleges and universities! Because he knows what he is talking about! We met as actors long ago playing Romeo and Juliet. Two professionals came together and started a family. We wanted to work together, so we are. We have a son, and he actually got me my second casting job as extras casting because they needed someone for DOVID MEYER and they knew I had the skill. I was just the stage mom for my son before that. My son was cast BEFORE I had anything to do with the project, not the other way around.
Yes, there are times when I cast my son in something, but that is because I have written that something for my son, like the Doritos commercial. That was a self produced project, a family affair. No one was paid for that, either.
I submit my family members, with the same pile as everyone else and only if they are right for the project. My son was NOT in MI AMERICA. And believe me, they are often NOT chosen for parts. WHY? Because they don't fit the directors vision... plain and simple!
My point is, that we care about finding the best people for the part, regardless of which coach you use, or where you get your photos taken, or who you are related to. We will offer you things and you partake if you would like to. When we work with make-up artists and photographers, we do this because we can offer a discount and get it for you reduced. It is a gift, NOT a requirement.
I know lots of other coaches: Denise Summerford, Shona Tucker, Darrell James. All good as well! And when Wayne is away acting up a storm somewhere, I might invite one of them on as resident coach for a while!
Currently, I am working with two photographers. Kelley Van Dilla and Richard Hutchings and Robin Weisel for make-up. Also I work with Candace Schuster for make-up. So there is no exclusivity here. I just want to work with good people. SO ... help me out! Help me remember you! Teach me that you are reliable!
Tips for being Cast-able and other things to think about:
1. The director makes the decision (and sometimes the producer).
It is rare that I get to make the final choice of an actor in a shoot. I WISH!
We, as Casting Directors just bring you in the door, the rest is up to you and then chance.
2. You need to have your tools ready
A. Head shots.
D. DO YOUR HOMEWORK (read the script, find out the producer, director, other talent attached to the project, work on the script, make bold choices, rehearse, dress appropriately, get coaching if you feel you need it, work from the top of your intelligence).
E. Be a good person to work with: no complaining, don't chit chat too much, no gossiping, be helpful and grateful and gracious, be kind, FOLLOW DIRECTIONS (especially submission directions), don't apologize, be humble with confidence.
F. DON'T be a NO SHOW and if you can avoid being a 'last minute canceler,' please do, because that is truly annoying.
3. BRING the goods to the audition. DO GREAT WORK! Breathe, Relax, HAVE FUN! Make me laugh, make me cry!
4. Know that casting is SO random. It is based on the Directors Vision (or the Producer). Some people have that look and quality that fit A LOT of roles, and others, like me, don't. Be happy for those who do, and don't waste time complaining about that. Get better at acting and you will book more roles.
5. LET IT GO! Don't think about it again. If you get the call, GREAT!
6. PLEASE know that Hudson Valley Casting will never require you to purchase anything from us directly to get roles. To be honest: We may suggest that you need better photos or that you need to work on your acting skills to up it to the next level, but you can choose how and where you take care of those things.
If you aren't booking, you have to assess where you need improvement.
AND RUN AWAY FROM ANY AGENCY OR CASTING DIRECTOR THAT REQUIRES MONEY FROM YOU!
Heidi K. Eklund is the owner of Hudson Valley Casting and has been in the entertainment business for over 25 years.