The Competitive Edge: How To Make Your Self-Submissions “Likeable” to Casting Directors

likeWhen I am a guest speaker, this question inevitably comes up: “Do you like self-submissions?”

This question doesn’t make sense to me, because if we (casting directors) put the breakdown out directly to actors, then of course we are expecting and looking forward to self-submissions. What I think the actor might really be asking is, how do we feel about getting a double submission both from the agent and talent?

If you want to submit, not knowing whether your agent submitted you, is a conversation between you and your agent. If I put a breakdown out to include self-submits, I understand and tolerate possible double submissions.

That said, what I can guide you on is how to send self-submissions that are “likeable.”

If a Note is Requested, Place a Note on Your Submission. 

For instance, if we are looking for someone who does yoga very well and your entire resume is full of yoga, write a note on your submission about your yoga experience. We will be sure to look at your submission.

If a Reel is Requested, Attach a Reel to Your Submission.

Sometimes, because a talent has a perfect look and no reel, I will take a look at their resume. Many times, I see a lot on the resume that indicates they must have a reel. I’ll e-mail the talent and ask, “With your strong body of work on your resume, don’t you have any footage?” The answer I quite often get is, “Yes, I do,” and they give me a YouTube link. Eight out of ten times a casting director will run out of time, and time slots, which prevents them from going out of their way to seek the information from you – that could cost you the audition.

If the answer is, “Yes I have a reel,” then it is highly recommended that you attach it directly to your profile within the website. This marketing toll will give you a chance to be in the front running.

Confirm or Cancel Your Audition Quickly.

The timing of our audition schedule depends on your attendance. Let us know quickly whether you are confirmed or if you can’t make it. All day long, we are re-arranging the schedule. Help us out; be on our team by letting us know quickly in order to give us time to arrange a workable audition schedule for our clients.

Avoid Complications When Getting Your Agent Involved.

Another question I get from talent who self-submit is, “will my agent be e-mailed the audition time too?” The answer is no. If you submitted, the audition time is electronically sent to you and not your agent.

At the time of their callback, many times a talent who has self-submitted says, “Oh, please give this to my agent, here is their e mail address,” or “Can you please e-mail all this to my agent to make sure it’s OK with them?” My answer is no. You give it to your agent. At the time of the callback, handle the details and booking on your end.

Don’t throw a casting director a curve ball, giving them double work by asking them to e-mail and go over all terms of agreements, etc. with your agent, whom you now decide should be involved. On that same note, if you submitted yourself, auditioned, and accepted the callback and avail, then it is your responsibility to tell your agent that you auditioned for the project, and that you want to, and will do, this job if you book it.

Bottom Line

I don’t mind self-submissions. I like that you are putting yourself out there and you believe in yourself, I like having you as a choice, but don’t turn self-submissions into more work for casting directors and complicated situations. Keep the flow of the audition process moving along with ease.


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Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voiceover, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has contributed to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development, and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”

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