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Practical Advice for Submitting to Online Casting Calls

Often times it is an assistant who is downloading everything and getting it in order, not the casting director. To make it as easy as possible for them to fit your info into an organized forum follow these steps.

I. Headshots.
1. Headshots should ALWAYS be in .jpg format and should be small enough to easily view on screen. No larger than 400 X 500 pixels is necessary. 300 X 400 is even better. Anything bigger is difficult to view onscreen and takes too long to download.

2. Send no more than 2 headshots, and don't send more than one unless they make a big difference. Different hairstyles or colors, facial hair, glasses that change your look drastically are all good. Different clothing is NOT necessary. Different posses are NOT necessary. The main question the casting director is trying to answer is, "Does this person look like this character?"

3. The filename of your headshot should always be 'your_name.jpg' If you send two, name them with 'your_name1.jpg' and 'your_name2.jpg' Filenames like 'smile2.jpg' or 'ligit.jpg' make it impossible for the casting director to match your shots up with the right resume when decision time comes.

4. Keep the file names short. Just 'your_name.jpg' is perfect. There is no need to include the words 'headshot, pic, photo, bw, or ANYTHING except your name. The '.jpg' file type tells the casting director that the file is an image. Long names can cause a web browser crash on some computers. You don't want your headshots doing that!

5. Color headshots leave less to the imagination of the casting director, which is great. Yes, yes, most professional headshots are in black and white. If b/w is all you have that's fine. It has remained industry standard because it's cheaper to print in mass quantities than color.
Obviously, this is not the case online. Many headshot photographers are now shooting digitally in color and making black and white versions for printing. Make sure you get color versions of the same headshots if at all possible. The most convenient way is to get them is as digital files so you never have to print or scan them. You can save them onto your computer, resize them to the proportions mentioned above and keep them in a folder along with your resume on your desktop.

6. Make sure your name appears printed on your headshot(s) and that it is readable. This makes it even easier for the casting director to keep track of who he/she is looking at.
II. Resumes.
1. Microsoft Word is installed on nearly every casting office's computer and, therefore, is a great standard file format to create and send your resume in.

2. Make sure the file name includes '.doc' at the end.

3. Name your resume the same name as your headshot: 'your_name.doc'. That way your resume will wind up alphabetized right next to your headshot in a long list of submissions, making it so easy to keep track of who you are. You won't have to worry about calling them the same filename because the headshot will always be a .jpg and the resume will always be a .doc.

4. Again keep the file name short. Just 'your_name.doc' is perfect. Do not include the word 'resume' or any other descriptive words except your name. The '.doc' file type suffix tells the casting director that the file is a document. Long names can cause a web browser crash on some computers.

5. Don't be creative with fonts. Use generic fonts that you know everyone has installed on their computers. 'New York' is a solid generic font. If the font you choose is not installed on the casting director's computer your resume will likely read like ancient Greek text, and you will become another victim of the early weeding out process.
III. Online Portfolios/Promotional Websites.
1. If you must include links to your site, ALSO include your resume and headshot(s) in the email.

2.Why? When a casting call is posted there are often hundreds of responses. The casting crew must immediately begin a narrowing down process. If you provide only a link to a web site, you are most likely going to be passed over by the person assisting the real decision makers. The assistants simply don't have the time to go to your web-site, decide which headshot to download (if they know how), re-label the file name to your name, find your resume, copy and paste it into a readable Word document, and label it again with your name.
You may have an incredible site and that's great, but chances are it won't be seen by anyone accept maybe a curious assistant who will quickly move on from it because they are crunched for time.
IV. Email Attachments vs. Pasted in the Body.
1. Some casting offices prefer that everything be pasted into the body of the email rather than attached. I suppose this is a precaution taken against viruses (being on a Mac, I don't have to worry about that... yet). If this condition is stated in the post, then by all means, comply with it. Your email will likely be deleted before being read if you don't.

2. It is likely that if people aren't accepting attachments they are using their email programs to organize the responses. Most email programs will sort by the subject line of the email. Therefore, include your name in the subject line of your response. If you are interested in a particular character that is listed in the post, you may want your subject line to read: "Character - Your Name." If they ask you for a specific subject, then definitely include it exactly as directed followed by your name.
V. Taking Direction From the First Point of Contact.
1. No one wants to work with an actor who can't take direction. Therefore, follow any direction given in a post as precisely as possible and you'll at least assure yourself a position among those being considered for a call-back.

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