When I tell people I’m an actor, after they’ve finished asking me what I’ve been in that they would have seen (nothing), they often then ask me how I find work. The answer, for many actors, is via casting websites such as Spotlight and Casting Call Pro. For non-actors reading this (are there any? Apart from my mum?), if you are a director who is planning to make a film/play/commercial/art installation/stilted corporate video about why you shouldn’t punch people at work, you can post details of your production on these websites and invite actors to apply.
Mostly, casting briefs will be informative and logical, and will give a good impression of what applicants are letting themselves in for. However, after three years using these sites, there are certain things that I have learned to avoid like the weirdo on the bus and green crisps. Here follows the green crisp equivalent of a casting brief, with a handy italicised commentary.
Production type: Short Film
Short films are often the first voyage of the student director. The plus side with these is that anything can happen. The downside for the actor is that anything can happen. On film.
Location: Little Greaseby-on-the-Mallow, Buckinghamshire
i.e. the film will be shot in the director’s parents’ house. It’ll be impossible to find, cost a fortune to get to, and there’ll be no Tesco.
Salary: No pay
Because who pays actors any more? How unfashionable. There will also be no travel or food expenses so you will actually be paying to do this ‘job’.
Duration: [Today’s date] to [a date weeks from now]
These will change regularly as the people involved realise it’s going to be crap and drop out.
Production details: Sally always wanted to be a lapdancer. Her parents disapproved, but she followed her dream and finally made it as a top lapdancer. However, she soon learns that lapdancing isn’t all the glitz and glamour she expected [she really expected that?] and she spirals out of control into drink, drugs and prostitution.
Or similarly grim subject matter which involves as much nudity and crying as possible.
We will not be covering any expenses as we are on a low budget and have to hire the equipment and pay the crew.
Ah, I completely understand. Because actors don’t eat! And everyone knows it’s the quality of the equipment that makes the acting look good, not the actor.
However, this is a really exciting project which offers great networking opportunities [no-one will know anyone’s name and you’ll never see them again] and showreel material [mainly of your own boobs].
And we’ll probably get a takeaway during the filming.
Well I’ll do anything for a Bargain Bucket.
The actress playing Sally should be comfortable with her body and with performing in the nude [in front of a crew of ten male film students], including [gratuitous and unconvincing] scenes of a sexual nature. Lapdancing experience a plus. [Bugger, why did I learn the clarinet when this is what would actually get me work?] She should be attractive, blonde, 18-25 and a size 6-8 but curvy [ugly, fat, flat-chested women need not apply. Why are you even actors anyway?]
We look forward to receiving your application.
For more ridiculous things that some directors expect actors to be OK with, see @Proresting’s excellent Tumblr entitled Casting Call Woe, which lists some pretty unbelievable quotations from genuine casting briefs.