Casting Calls: It’s Nothing Personal

June 29, 2012

“It’s not personal, it’s strictly business.” – Michael Corleone

A camera operator I know once told me a story about a callback he ran in which no one could agree on the principle in a national commercial. The director, the producer, the production company, and the ad agency all had a different pick for the star of their 30-second epic. It was a conundrum as this was a huge campaign, and tensions quickly escalated to 100 degrees Celsius. As the night wore on, each person became more cemented in his or her own position; things got worse when the client sent word they were thinking of dropping the spot. In the end, they solved the contretemps by agreeing on an actor none of them had picked as their first choice! Can you imagine? This guy wasn’t even in the running, and he landed the choice gig in a mega national commercial! Which, by the way, ran forever.

There are many reasons why you might get booked or rejected for a particular job. At times, it is because you’re well groomed, prepared, confident, highly skilled, on time, charismatic, and professional. I’m sure this is the case most often. But then there are times you get picked because you’re unanimously second on everyone’s list. Or you’re selected because you’re the girl who doesn’t look so much like the director’s ex. It’s important to understand casting is not an exact science. Indeed, the casting industry is built on opinion, personal taste, conjecture, and instinct–pretty subjective stuff! So, be heartened: it’s not always up to you and your performance. Sometimes, it’s just folly.

I heard of another instance with a spot featuring a page of dialogue which required “serious acting.” They cast for a week and got some stellar performances–only for the director to show up at callbacks explaining, “We really just need someone who’s crazy smokin’.” This instantly ruled out the merely-smokin’-but-highly-skilled actresses in the lobby. And, yes, the execs got someone crazy smokin’, and moved on with their project. Thus is the business, thespian, you find yourself in. But knowing this can bring you clarity: All you can do is your best, your very best, and then let the chips fall where they may. Hey, it’s not personal. It’s just business; strictly business.

What instances have you had to remind yourself to not take things personally?