How to answer when casting directors ask what I'm doing
You absolutely have to say something. I have known and seen actors say that ‘they have not been up to anything in the last year or so, it’s been really barren and they haven’t worked on anything’. Now I know people want to be or be known as honest and truthful, but I’m afraid this won’t do, and you have to highlight or talk about at least something that you have been doing involved with the industry. Otherwise you just won’t seem interested, and you will actually work against yourself getting the job you are going for. So therefore lets go through some options of what you could say.
Firstly, if you have been working on something; great, talk about that. Try to keep it relevant if you’ve had a spread of work; for example if you are going for a play and you’ve been in a play and a bunch of promo videos or something, then highlight the play first, talk about this, and only mention the other gigs at the end as they are less relevant, but still shows that you are working frequently and in more than one medium.
If you have just done the promos, then hey we have to talk about them. But don’t go on about how you didn’t want to do them; talk about them in the manner that they are very much part of what you do and talk about them positively, but also mention you are looking for the plays that are out there and applying for them too. Also talk about previous plays you have been in a while back, and talk about them with a passion too. They won’t think ‘this person hasn’t done a play in ages’; but ‘this person’s constantly working’, from the play to the promo vids.
Ok, so now you’ve been dry for six months. Oh, a year? Oh dear, I’m sorry. Well doesn’t matter, there’s still plenty you can do, and therefore say.
Have you been seeing loads of plays at the moment? Then let’s go with that. Chances are they might’ve seen one of the plays you have or at least heard about it, so this can help establish a rapport and common ground. Also any plays you are reading is a good thing to mention too, as this will show more of an interest, and come across as more proactive.
Maybe you are changing the type of work you are doing in between jobs. By this I don’t mean barista to barmaid, but I mean are you changing strategies on how to get work? So are you in the process of changing your agent and all the work that entails, or are you doing a push on writing to casting directors, or research on theatre-producing theatres across the country to try and get contact and exposure with them? In that case mention this, as this sort of work takes time and dedication; therefore shows you are active and that you are a working professional who knows the ropes and how the business works. They will be impressed by your drive, skills, and work, I’m telling you. I would be.
And one final thing which I said in an audition once which got a great response and I never fail to pull out of the bag every time I go into a casting. I really didn’t have anything on for ages at one point, and to fill the time I decided to write a screenplay, just to stay active, learn writing and have something to fill the hours. I finished it and really just to see what would happen I sent it to a few literary agencies to see what would happen, and a couple of big ones requested to read it, which was amazing. So I go into an audition a few weeks later and they ask me what I’ve been up to. I say nothing for a while (don’t follow suit; I shouldn’t have said that, moron), but said I have written a feature screenplay and it’s currently being read by someone at one agency (I can’t remember the name), and one of the literary agents at United Agents too. They were, I have to say, mighty impressed, to my genuine surprise. Now I’m not saying everyone has to write feature films now, but this sort of activity in the business shows a real professionalism and taking the business – your business - seriously. So maybe write a play, write a short film, direct a play or short, or even just investigate the possibility of putting on a play you always wanted to. And who knows, before long you might actually be doing those things and not need to go to auditions any more, because you are now producing your own work. Think Matt Damon, George Clooney, Robin Soans, Samuel West; all these people diversify and produce or have produced their own work. If might well make the difference in your career. And if not, then it’s still a cracking thing to talk about in an audition, that will pique their interest in you.