5 Ways to Follow Up: How to Keep in Touch with Agents and Casting Directors

How can an actor be realistic about their career while still holding onto their big dream?

It’s a delicate balancing act. You want to be proactive in your career, but you don’t want to harass industry professionals until they find you off-putting. So let’s break down some ways to appropriately reach out to those agents and casting directors whose attention you so desperately want to catch.The trick, of course, is to not appear desperate.

  1. Meet and Greets. The best way to make anyone remember you, of course, is to make face-to-face contact. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this. Start going to lectures, Q & A’s, and meet-and-greets hosted by different agencies. Make sure you are calm and confident when (and if) you encounter them directly, plan your questions ahead of time so you sound articulate and insightful, and if you can, wear something that will stand out (without looking too crazy). Make sure you are respectful of their time and space—these events are not the time to cling to a representative’s hand and tell her your life-story. (That time, in fact, may never come). It is the the time to make an efficient, professional and memorable impression and follow up in another way at a later date.
  2. Classes/Workshops. Another way to make sure industry professionals clap physical eyeballs on you is to participate in showcases, master classes, workshops, really any program through which they will be invited to see your work. The biggest thing to remember is to know the rules. If they have been invited to a studio showcase it is likely your headshots will be passed on. If you are attending a workshop, have your headshots with you of course, but don’t press your materials on them unless invited. Bear in mind that, if they are part of the union, there may be strictures against them accepting headshots in certain situations. Make sure to prepare thoroughly, bring your A-game, and take advantage of any opportunity to network afterwards. But also remember that if you are attending a workshop it is first and foremost educational, so be yourself, relax, and try to learn while you’re there. You can always reinforce the impression you make on them, by following up with a submission later.
  3. Postcards. Postcards are a great way to follow up with agents and casting directors post-showcase, and also a solid way to maintain contact from year to year. Create a master list of addresses of casting directors and once a year mail out postcards. On the back you can write a brief update of your work in the past year. There are plenty of services that can help you create professional postcards that will include your headshot and information for a reasonable price, and they are worth it to have at your disposal. Just make sure to keep track of where you send them so you don’t bombard anyone with repeats.
  4. Hand-written Notes. Some actors swear by cards and hand-written notes instead of postcards, citing that sometimes headshots and traditional submissions get passed over while classic snail mail makes it onto the desired desk. I think both have their merits. Hand-written notes seem more personal and often stand out among hundreds of emails and other submissions. If an industry professional has taken time to come see your work somewhere, I would suggest following up with a hand-written thank you note that includes genuine thanks and a brief update of your work. It wouldn’t hurt to slip a postcard or business card that features your headshot in the envelope too.
  5. Timely Submissions. Obviously submitting to agents is the primary way to reach out to them. But some tactics are more effective than others. For example, blindly submitting online will be less effective than submitting on the recommendation of an actor they know and respect, or having a close colleague walk in your materials. Add on to this the virtues of the well-timed submission. Ideally, you will submit after the agent in question has recently viewed your work or otherwise encountered you. Be sure to remind them under what circumstances you met.

Keep plugging away. Remember that you are building the foundations for lasting relationships, not launching a shock and awe campaign. It will do you no good if they remember you in an unfavorable light. So keep it classy and be consistent.

 

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Rachel Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at www.rachelfrawley.com

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