My father taught me a very important lesson that he learned when he was a boy in school. It was about following the instructions. Very simple, yet why is it so hard to do and how can it affect you from getting auditions?
The story my dad told me is that his class was given a written exam. At the very top of the paper, it said “Read the exam in its entirety before answering the questions”. My dad, as well as most of his classmates, ignored those directions and began writing down the answers to the exam questions without reading the entire page first. The very last question, which was actually a statement, said, “Now go back to the top and only answer Question #1.”
When talent doesn’t read the submission instructions given by a Casting Director on DirectSubmit, it can often lead to problems. It’s very frustrating, not to mention time consuming, for a CD to sift through unqualified submissions. When I say unqualified, I mean submissions that are not following the instructions, whether it’s something missing or even maybe too much information given by the talent.
For example, a talented musician may not realize that they need to read the music before they can play it. This can lead to them making mistakes and not being able to play the song correctly. Similarly, a talented artist may not realize that they need to follow the instructions on how to properly use the paintbrushes before they start painting. This can lead to their artwork not looking as good as it could have and potentially destroying the brushes.
In case you weren’t aware, there’s actually a button on DirectSubmit that the CDs can press to block and even delete talent from being able to submit to an audition. Don’t be one of the people that gets blocked or deleted. That will diminish your ability to audition and get work.
If you can’t follow submission instructions, how can you be trusted to follow a Director’s directions?
Casting directors are the people in charge of finding the right actors, dancers and musicians to fill the roles in a movie, TV show or play. You know this already. But what you might not consider is that they’re also responsible for making sure that these performers are following the instructions given to them by the director.
This can be frustrating for casting directors, who have to deal with last-minute changes and recalibrate their vision for the project. It’s even more difficult when multiple cast members don’t adhere to direction, which can throw off the entire production.
Sometimes, this can result in the talent being replaced with someone else. You need to think really hard if you’re in a position to get fired with the possibility of word getting around the industry not to hire you because you don’t follow the rules.
If big name talent can break the rules, why can’t I?
Some of the most successful talent in the entertainment industry are those who don’t always follow the director’s directions. While it’s important to be able to take direction, many actors, musicians, and dancers have found that sometimes it’s necessary to break the rules in order to create something truly special. They have to be able to think outside the box in order to be successful in their field. And isn’t that a good thing?
One of the most famous examples of this is actor Marlon Brando. He was known for his method acting technique, which often meant going off-script and improvising on set. This led to some conflict with directors, but it also resulted in some of his most iconic performances.
Musicians are also known for pushing boundaries and doing things their own way. Jimi Hendrix is one of the most famous examples of this. He was constantly experimenting with new sounds and techniques, much to the consternation of his producers.
Celebrities are simply more famous than “regular” people, so they have more power and influence. This means that they can get away with things that other people couldn’t. Sometimes the production is willing to look the other way because they know the talent’s star power will bring in the audience, which of course results in a lot of money.
Here are some TIPS for following instructions:
1. Practice mindfulness. Be aware of your surroundings and what’s being asked of you. Pay attention to the details and don’t let your mind wander.
2. Repeat the instructions back to the person giving them to you (or say them to yourself if you’re submitting online.) This will help ensure that you understand what’s expected of you.
3. Break down the instructions into smaller, more manageable steps. This will help you focus on one thing at a time and not feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done.
4. Ask for clarification if anything is unclear. It’s better to ask for help than to try to guess what someone wants and end up doing it wrong. DirectSubmit is happy to help you should you need further explanation.
So what exactly should you do? Read the submission instructions carefully and follow them to the letter. This may mean including specific information or sending additional materials along with your headshot and resume. If you’re asked for a certain type of photo, be sure to send one that meets their requirements. The same goes for format — if they prefer PDFs, don’t send a Word document.
Okay! We’ve established that if you can’t follow even the simplest submission instructions on DirectSubmit that you may not be able to be trusted to follow the directions on set. Everyone’s busy, I get it. But if you’re too busy to read the directions, what makes you think the CD and Director are going to hire you? (If someone asked me that question when I was younger, I would have replied with, “Because they’re not going to find someone as perfect as me for the role.”) Of course, in my years of wisdom that I now think I have, I realize that there are more than enough perfect people for the role. And the CD and Director are going to choose the person that gives them the least friction.
So do yourself a favor and follow the submission instructions.