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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Casting: "No." by casting director Mark Sikes

May 28, 2012



Mark Sikes

I say "no" a lot. 
If I read 300 actors for a film then I will end up saying "no"
to about 275 of them. I've cast 100 movies. You do the math. But I don't call actors in just to have the pleasure of rejecting them. I value their time and mine alot more than that. All 300 actors on each film had a shot at booking but for one reason or another they didn't.

I might read an actor on one film and then a month later call him in for another, even though he didn't book that first one. Many actors can attest to this. There are actors I call in all the time. Sometimes they book, sometimes they don't, but if they are solid and pleasant and keep bringing interesting work into my room why wouldn't I call them back in for future projects? I never hold it against an actor that they didn't book that last job.

When we say "no" to an actor regarding a part, it is not exactly a "no." If I bring in a guy for a role and we end up choosing a woman, is that really rejection? Did we literally say "no" to you? It's just that we weren't able to say "yes." Only one actor can book a part. It doesn't mean that there weren't ten actors that could have done a great job with the role.
And just because you didn't get the part it doesn't mean that everyone in the room agreed with that choice. There have been plenty of times over the years when I totally disagreed with the director's choice. So don't assume we all said "no" and maybe the only person that wanted that other actor was the one with the final say. So how do you turn a "no" into a "yes?" It's not impossible. First, you have to be realistic in your goals. 

You can't have as your ultimate goal booking a specific part for a specific project. If you had singled out a role in my film "Tentacle 8" last year there really would have been very little you could have done to guarantee a "yes." So, the goal needs to be to work for me, not on any particular project or role. Once you've actually worked for a bunch of us you will find success comes faster and faster.

Or let's say you want to get a "yes" from a specific talent agency. There's nothing wrong with having a dream agency but bear in mind that if you can't get a "yes" from them today it doesn't mean you won't get a "yes" from them in a year. The mistake is to take a "no" personally and then take that agency off your list. Sure, there's no need to follow up with them 90 days after they passed on you as a client but a year later send them a polite letter announcing the things that you've booked since you met with them. Staying positive with an agent that passed on you will show them that you understand that it isn't personal and you are still very passionate about them as an agency.

When somebody says "no" to you, you have to be able to still say "thank you for the opportunity" and mean it. This will make it a lot more likely that you are around for more opportunities. I have seen so many agents sign actors three years after first meeting them because the actor didn't take it personally and gave the agent more and more reason to sign them.

That's also true for casting. You will rarely book the first time you read for a specific casting office. If you feel good the first time I call you in, imagine your confidence the second and third times. I am obviously a fan and it is only a matter of time before you book with me. But if you got discouraged the first time I said "no" then you aren't going to be at your best on those next two visits. Nobody enjoys being told "no." I know I don't. 

But I have also found that I have been turned down for one job only to be hired later by the same director or producer because I didn't take it personally and I made the effort to stay on their radar.

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