Video meetings are now commonplace in nearly all businesses and have opened up the possibilities to reimagine the way we work, meet, and connect. For casting directors and actors the zoom callback has the potential to be a game changer. But as with all seismic shifts in our day-to-day practices there is a learning curve that occurs while we adapt to our new virtual workplaces.
Where actors used to come to casting, now the casting studio comes to you. Your living room/bedroom/home office has taken the place of the casting couch and while this has made life a lot more convenient for many of us (no more sitting in traffic to get to auditions) it has raised its own set of new challenges.
The hectic schedules and tight deadlines haven’t changed all that much for those of us in production and to keep things moving we must all play our part in readying the industry for the future. For actors that means helping casting (and yourselves) by knowing the realities and best practices of the zoom callback.
Here are our top zoom callback tips:
- Check your internet connection.
Poor internet connectivity is our number one complaint when running zoom callback sessions. Nothing is more difficult to work with than a patchy feed. It’s the quickest and easiest way to give the job to someone else. If we can’t see you, can’t hear you, or keep losing you, we can’t give you the role and we don’t have time to wait or waste.
2. Pick a recognizable username.
When you log in for your zoom callback always use your first and last name as your username (or use your stage name if that’s what you submit with). If you are unidentifiable we cannot match you to a call time and you’ll almost certainly end up waiting. Unclear usernames cause the team a lot of extra work. You would be amazed to see how many people enter callbacks with names like “iPhone”, “J’s Samsung” and “Act4lif3.”
We won’t let actors into the zoom room if we don’t know who we’re letting in.
3. Be patient and polite
Callbacks can take a while, especially over zoom. We do our best to stay on schedule and we know that everyone has busy lives but we sometimes end up running behind. There are a wide number of reasons that we get behind, and none of us want it to happen (for us it’s just a longer workday) but it’s important to remember that we’re people too. If you’re wondering how much longer you’re going to have to wait, email the casting team and politely ask them; we’re working hard to get you in, try to stay patient. Impatience can cost you the job.
4. Be prepared.
Nothing causes zoom callbacks to get behind schedule more than unpreparedness on the part of talent. Sitting on the couch watching TV while you wait for your audition only means that we must wait for you to get properly set up once you enter the room.
Be ready to start as soon as you login. Have your copy ready to go. Set up your camera to shoot at your eyeline and position the frame landscape. Get be in front of a backdrop or a clean background and be lit as well as possible (we need to see your face!). Be sure to unmute your microphone as soon as you enter the room. Make it as easy as possible for yourself to be sitting down or standing up in your space and make sure your camera can be quickly adjusted accordingly. Do this before you even ring in, and remember we’re usually on a tight schedule.
5. This is not the zoom hangout with your friends
Many of us use zoom as a way to connect with friends and family but auditions are not the time to chat. We have loads of people to see and we don’t have time to hear your life story. Many actors love to talk, and so do we, but callbacks are neither the time nor place.
This is a job interview, plain and simple. Professionalism gets you paid.
6. Be professional
With the new realities facing us we need to work with the most professional actors possible. There are jobs today where production teams are sending equipment to you to set up and tape. They need to know that you are ready for a demanding day of setup, shooting, and breaking down as well as being the talent. Covid 19 has made the need for diligent professionalism even greater on the part of the actor. When you come in fully prepared we notice and can feel confident that you are capable of shooting on your own.
If you’ve never used zoom before, or you’re unfamiliar with some features of the service try it ahead of time. Don’t tell us when you enter the room that it’s your first time and you don’t exactly know how it works, that doesn’t impress us much. Download the software and give it a whirl. Understand the basics, no one’s saying you need to be an expert but get familiar before it’s go time. Test it with your agent, manager, family or a friend. Often times the more prepared and savvy actor gets the job over the best actor.
It’s a great feeling getting a callback but it’s a better one to get booked. Don’t blow your opportunity by not being zoom ready. To learn more about mastering the home audition click here to sign up for our workshop taught by veteran Casting Director Stuart Stone.