Wednesday, June 13, 2018

My Experience with Central Casting and Calling Service

Happy Pride, to those who observe it!  (Pride is about celebration of the LGBTQ {Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer} community).

Apart from getting jobs through the app, Taskrabbit, I didn't want to neglect my reason to breathe, acting! I looked into calling services. A calling service is a company that help casting companies like Central Casting place background actors (extras) in roles. There are several calling services in LA, where I am based. I assume they are available in cities like
New York, and Atlanta where a lot of filming takes place.

I signed up with one last year hoping they would quickly find me jobs.Of course, I did my research and picked one that I thought would be suitable for my needs. It wasn't the cheapest. Calling services charge a flat fee of around $75 per month. Some will have you go to their offices to register and take photos for your profile. That's the photo they will use to submit you for background roles. Some will let you email them your photo and do the whole registration online. The one I signed up with had me email them a headshot (photo of mainly your face, but up to waistline for background roles, because they want to see as much of you as possible, as they will not be calling you in for auditions, they will pick you solely from the headshot). I did so, and was immediately registered. Great! Now, let's get ready to work! I post most of the acting jobs I do on my Facebook Fan Page, check it out when you have a second. And click on Like to make me feel better about myself!
background actor headshot sampe

Most calling services require you to be registered with the largest Background Casting company: Central Casting. Central holds free registrations several days a week. You have to be super early because they only take the first, I think, 75 people in line and this, being LA, has hoards of aspiring actors and just regular people who want to do background work. There are always long lines. You want to be one of the ones that get in. They open around 9am, you want to be there even before 7am if you can help it. That's what I did, and I was still not first in line! Bring a blanket, sleeping bag, UGGS, a flask with warm drink, camping chair, whatever you may need to keep you warm and sane while out there waiting. Bring you Kindle, or laptop or whatever, watch a little movie, read a book, or just bring your nice attitude and have a conversation with people in line. There's so much information you will get from waiting in these lines. People who do background work, in my experience, are so helpful. Ask all the questions you may have, jot whatever you learn down.

Eventually, they let us in, we sit on chairs facing the facilitator, they hand everyone application forms and tell you what and wahtnot, you do what you have to. Freshen up and join the line to submit your forms, then another line to take pictures. The Central Casting Photographer takes two photos, a full length one and a head shot. If you have a complete change of outfit, they will let you take another photo. You second outfit has to be a totally different look, you can't do the same formal, or casual etc. If you can help it, don't register with Central Casting in jeans and a T-Shirt. They know everyone looks normal in casual wear, rather use this opportunity to dress in black tie attire, you know? a ball gown, vintage wear, stuff like that. Nothing wrong with casual wear though. If you have a car that is neither red, white nor black, you can also have it registered with Central and your calling service. I don't care if your car is falling apart, sign it up! They may just be looking for a car like yours one day!

People register their babies, pets, the whole nine! My car is white, so I haven't had the opportunity to use it on set. I did register two different looks. Regular, smart casual and 1980s type look where I wore a wig and a vintage dress. I only sent the calling service one of these looks. The regular one. They only wanted one photo. From here on, you go on Facebook and check for listing on Central Casting's page and follow the instructions on the listing to submit yourself; sometimes they want you to email certain details to a certain email. Pay attention to this, and do as instructed. Sometimes, they want you to call a number. Let me warn you: That number will be busy. There are thousands of people trying to call that number. Keep trying.

After signing up with Central, I remember calling to submit myself and calling AND CALLING and calling, until it was around an hour and around 200 times trying to call the same number. That had my head spinning. How much money could I have made in these two hours if I had spent this time listing items on eBay in my store. By the way, I'm still relisting items on there, so, there's more coming. Feel free to follow my store in the meantime. Thanks. I was getting despondent from hearing the beeping sound whenever I called to submit myself through Central. You calling service will likely submit you that same job but if you happen to book yourself, make sure you let them know ASAP, so that they don't double book you. Also, if you see a role you think you fit, feel free to email it to your calling service and make sure they submit you in case they hadn't. Team work!

After only trying to submit myself a few times through Central, I was done. This was before I had a calling service. I remember saying out loud, 'if a role is meant for me, they will find me'. I am registered with other casting companies as well. I went to bed that evening trusting that jobs will come, I don't have to be so desperate. Don't get me wrong this way of thinking is not for everyone. I recommend it, but you have to firmly believe it for it to work for you. Don't just be like, oh well, Brook said...! Brook don't pay your bills! So, I went to bed early that day. I woke up around 11pm to emails, texts, emails from the Blog's email address, what? Instagram, Twitter, You name it, people were looking for me! Am I dreaming? Turns out, a casting director was trying to cast me in a job I had submitted myself for on a casting site. Apparently, there was something wrong with my phone number and they weren't able to reach me. They then posted on their Facebook Page and tried to have their followers fan out to find me. Do you see what the universe can do? Of all the people in the Greater Los Angeles, they wanted to cast ME! I wasn't available, and they were doing whatever it took to find me. There were some thirsty people on there posting: why don't you cast me? I'm available! Thanks again to everyone who reached out to me on that day. I called the casting director and got the job. It turned out to be a fun one too! Small group of people. In and out. We still got paid for the whole day. The only time they won't do that, is if, they mention on the listing that it's per hour. I don't usually go for those roles. Some of them could be far away, what if you only work a couple of hours after driving so far away?

That was a nice experience, but after signing up with the calling service and not being booked by it for an entire week, I had to take another look at my life. The Service had an option to cancel with them for a full refund within the first 10 days of signing up with them. I did just that because, I mean, come on! They said they had refunded me, but they hadn't. One day, I was looking at my bank statement and noticed, no payment from them. I had to chase after them for my money. That was not a good look!

I continued to work for TaskRabbit, doing random tasks, I will tell you about more of them as we go along, let me tap out for now.

P.S. One final thought about working for Central casting, they book you day in advance, meaning, most of the jobs listed today are for tomorrow. When you book a job, they will call you in the evening with final details. You have to double check the number they give you for details, to see if there have been any changes such as call time and location. Double check again when you wake up before getting ready. I have checked and found the call time to have been changed. You want to always make sure, you check the line. Show up on time, with wardrobe options and be easy to work with. You check will arrive within the next couple of weeks, sometimes a week later. You have to be eligible to work in The United States to be registered with Central. They check.

Break a leg!

Until next time! Thanks for reading!

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