Cover letters for casting applications

How do you write an effective cover letter?

Together with your photographs and previous experience, a cover letter is your calling card. As such, it's important to set the right tone and create a good impression. While it's true that a good letter can really do you favours, it's also true that a bad, poorly presented letter can result in your application being ignored. Casting directors and agents receive a vast amount of unsolicited applications and won't be able to devote more than a few minutes to read a single submission, therefore it's essential that you keep it short and relevant.

You might think that the real substance is in your acting ability, but spelling and grammar are very important. Make sure you don't rule yourself out of the selection process by writing an oddly phrased and poorly presented letter riddled with mistakes. The same goes for your Kids Casting Call Pro profile, so don't be afraid to ask someone else to proof-read your profile for you.

The tone of a letter is one of the most important elements and yet one of the hardest to get right. Given that there will be dozens, hundreds or thousands of other letters, you might wonder how you can set yourself apart from the others. You don't want to sound too flattering, arrogant or outlandish. Be professional, find out the name of the person to whom you're writing (and make sure you spell it correctly!) and address them by their full name rather than by their first name or title. Be yourself in the letter but keep in mind that yours will be one of many letters and that the agent / casting director won't have the time or patience to read an essay. When writing a letter try to think how it will come across to the reader, a person who doesn't know you. It's a good idea to run your draft by a friend for a second opinion before sending it.

A letter should be a couple of clear concise paragraphs including why you are interested in the role / agency and why you think you're suitable, and should be considered. If your letter is accompanied by a headshot and CV, the recipient will have an idea of your child's look and their career to date, so don't simply parrot what the CV says. Writing a good letter is a fine line between being uninformative and irritatingly wordy.

Write in the first person singular (I) and adhere to the usual rules of grammar, and letter writing. A standard letter will often start with the recipient's address (at the left-hand side of the paper) with the date writing (usual format 12th May 2012) beneath followed by the greeting (Dear Marjorie Cruickshank,), the body of the letter and concluded Yours sincerely, with a space for your signature and beneath that your name (printed). You can, if you wish, include your address at the top right of the letter, though there are no hard and fast rules about this and your address should be included on your CV.

Basic Do's

  • Personalise the letter
  • Check spelling and grammar
  • Check the factual content - e.g. names / addresses / contact numbers
  • Read, read again and read again before sending
  • Keep a copy of your mail for future reference and to keep tabs on who you've contacted

Basic Don'ts

  • Address your letter to a generic title - e.g. Dear Sir/Madam...
  • Be overly familiar / informal
  • Write a bog standard, top and tailed letter which is clearly a generic mailing to all and sundry
  • Use tired, meaningless phrases synonymous with archaic covering letters - e.g. "... for your perusal...", "...I implore / beseech you...", "...you'll regret it if you don't give me the..."
  • Forget to sign the letter - an easy omission
  • Forget to include any other materials - e.g. headshots / CV