Casting calls-Successful?

January 06, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Casting calls that are booked and not met by either the model or photographer can be troublesome and costly at times. Although models often get the brunt of flaking, there are times where the photographer flakes. Studio time, lost income, travel time, as well as general frustration are very real problems that can haunt both parties for years in some cases.

OK, things do happen. People get sick, family and relationship demands, transportation issues,  unexpected work related issues etc will always occur regardless of how responsible an individual may be. There are some ways to potentially reduce (not eliminate) problems.

If you care answering a casting call:

  • Is it really something that you want to do? It can be tempting to try out new waters or even give in the lure of a paid gig. There is nothing wrong with trying out new waters, but if you are not really interested, the reality is you are probably not going to put out your best effort. 
  • If you are going to an unfamiliar part of town, get very specific directions. Leave early since you never know when you will encounter traffic. Most phones have mapping and GPS, why not use it?
  • Be absolutely certain what the call involves. Ask for details- who, what, where, when, how. If the person posting the casting call is slow or does not answer your questions then this be an amateur or someone who lacks the ability to follow through. Does the person write in complete sentences or just phases and single words? In the same thought, keep in mind that the person placing the casting call may be very busy. He/She may not have time to write a novel in response to your questions or answer a question every day over a period of weeks.
  • Do you know who is placing the casting call? Does he/she have images featuring people you know? Is there a portfolio somewhere? Can the person provide at least one reference?
  • If this is the first time that you have worked with this person, be cautious providing excessive resources. Examples may include traveling a great distance, expensive wardrobe, extensive editing for a large number of images, etc. Only you can answer what is too much based on the opportunity that presents itself. 
  • Know your skills and limitations. If you accept a casting call significantly outside your skill level, it will not benefit you or the person placing the casting call. If you still are interested, remember to practice before the event.
  • What is your backup plan? Once again things happen from both parties. 
  • If you do find yourself needing to cancel- provide as much notice as you are able. Last minute cancellation can leave people bitter.

If you are placing a casting call:

  • Write your casting call like you are writing a summary for a job description. You need a balance between a once sentence blurb in jargon and writing a book that many will not take the time to read. Use complete sentences and spell out what you want. For example, if you want someone to be camera ready, say that in your casting call. If you need a photographer to provide you images within a certain time frame, be specific.
  • HIRE the best match to what you need. For example, if you are shooting dance moves, you want to make sure that the model has at least a basic background in dance. 
  • Be certain that you have some of your work publicly posted. It is easy enough to post low resolution images at the very least on social media. 
  • Be open to creative ideas from the person that you are hiring. Of course they need to meet your concept, but tweaks here and there may even make your concept better than you thought. Be polite and keep the person on track if ideas are not what you had in mind.
  • What is your backup plan? Things can happen on your part or the person answering the casting call. If you have to cancel, how will you deal with your talent particularly if a great deal of time or expense has been taken responding to your casting call?
  • A sensitive topic to be sure, but at least consider someone wanting to bring an escort. This may be important if you are meeting in a hotel or a remote location. Be clear that the escort can not interfere with the shoot or you will end the session and if paid, the talent may not be paid for the entire session.


In general, consider a casting call no different from any other employer-employee relationship. How well each party handles this relationship can have a significant impact on future activities.