The Casting Couch

The Casting Couch

Friday, February 16, 2007

Headshot Postcards--Friend or Foe?

Okay, so I seriously go through probably no less than 50 headshot postcards a day, and up to this point, I’ve kept my mouth shut about them. But its time to air some of my frustration out.

First of all, I understand that pretty much every actor (famous or non) has shamelessly solicited themselves via postcard submissions at some point in their career. I get it. It helps the business along. It gets your face out there. Sure, you’re just hoping that one day one casting director or executive will glance at your smiling face and go “Well, who is this person? I HAVE to meet them.” I won’t lie and say this doesn’t happen, sure it does…but not often. Even so, I’m not so much concerned with the action of sending your headshots via postcard, but more so WHAT it is exactly that you’ve chosen to put on that card because really people, you’re not cute, funny, or clever. Most of the time, you’re just plain obnoxious. Sometimes I wish I could hold on to those really bad postcards to keep a list of who not to hire based on their delusional ideas about what is funny. But alas, I would never do such a horrible thing because really, these are just people trying to find their way in this business through whatever means possible. So, in an attempt to maybe help you out on this topic (and in turn, make my life a little bit easier), I’ve devised a pro and con list of what REALLY could help you land the big jobs. See below.

-YOUR NAME—I cannot tell you how many postcards I’ve seen where I’ve had to search for this information…it should be very obvious and clear on the front of the card.
-ONE CLEAR PHOTO—normal headshot style, funny faces not necessary
-AGENT CONTACT INFO—this gives you validity as an actor. I know it sucks, but there are too many actors out there and we rely on the reputations of agencies to initially determine whether talent is good or not.
-SIMPLICITY—Keep your card to the point. The best thing you can do seems like the most boring and common…and hey, you want to stick out right? Well, take it from someone who goes through tons of these things daily…the normal ones DO stick out. Think white or black background, photo, name, agent contact info…Imagine that? This is really the most ideal. PS, the few people we have called in purely based on their postcards have been of this variety.
-THANK YOU POSTCARDS—These are always good. If you’ve actually met the person you’re sending your shot and are able to call attention to some detail about your meeting, it paints you in a favorable light in the mind of the viewer w/o being obtrusive.

ON THE FENCE (These things don’t really bug me, but don’t really impress me much either.)
-HOLIDAY POSTCARDS— “Wishing you a happy new year” with your face smiling back at me is okay I guess. I mean you don’t know me, but whatever works, right?
-YOUR ENTIRE RESUME on the front of the postcard—I don’t really get this. If I’m interested, I’ll IMDB you and find out for myself. Make me work for this stuff.
-“CATCH ME ON THE UPCOMING EPISODE OF…” I have to admit, sometimes this is good, and other times its bugs me. I think the key here is making sure that the postcard gets there BEFORE your episode airs…otherwise you just look silly.
-CRITIC QUOTES—Unless its Ebert and Roeper giving you two thumbs up, these just look long-winded and detract from you, your name, and your agent.

-DON’T SEND YOUR UNSOLICITED FULL HEADSHOT. Unless you just graduated from a prestigious acting school or university, these just look tacky. Have your agent send it to us if anything.
-If I see one more CHEESY PHRASE that is supposed to make me laugh and fall in love with you….DON’T DO THIS. I’m talking about things like “Doctor Recommended, SAG Approved” and similar taglines.
-Please don’t put your normal headshot picture on the front and your cheesy “LOOK I HAVE PERSONALITY” PICTURE on the back. Just the front one is fine. The rest is assumed.
-Try to avoid saying things like “LOOKING FORWARD TO MEETING YOU THIS PILOT SEASON” because that is a bit presumptuous. Who knows if you’ll actually meet me.
-Don’t refer to yourself in the THIRD PERSON. I know its you, the actor, sending me these cards.
-Don’t use DESCRIPTORS like “With the charm of Brad Pitt and the humor of Adam Sandler.”…I mean, come on people. What are you trying to prove here?
-Don’t put MORE THAN 2 PHOTOS of you on the postcard. You’ll just end up looking vain. Again, I understand that you have personality…I don’t need to see 8 different photographic representations of said personality.
-Similarly, don't put MULTIPLE VARIATIONS OF THE SAME PHOTO. If you insist on having more than one photo, provide a little variety. Two photos of you in the exact same position in a different outfit are not acceptable.
-Don't use UNPROFESSIONAL PHOTOS—So you just decided to get into acting, huh? Well, step one is getting someone to take decent photos of you. That snapshot of you out drinking with your buddies is not solicit-able material. Seriously.

**On a similar note, people who send me pictures of their poor BABIES trying to get them into acting are just sick. I know your baby is cute. But seriously, they just popped out of the womb, and you’re already trying to exploit them for money. Shame on you.

Well, folks. That was my rant on postcard headshots. I want to again establish that I understand why these are necessary and some good does come out of them. I don’t resent actors for sending them. Just be wary that if you're gonna put your name and face on something, it better look good.

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