Getting an audition without an agent is challenging in any country, but this particular article is aimed at actors living and working in the USA. If you are a UK-based performer, check out the following article:
There’s no point in pretending. Even when you are represented by a respected agent or personal manager who works hard at hustling, calling in favors and pitching your various talents, getting your foot through the door of the casting director’s office can be difficult. Doing it alone is twice as hard.
But the good news is it’s not impossible. If you are prepared to take a few risks, push yourself and work extremely hard to fulfil your goals, you can stand a chance of getting an audition without an agent.
In this article I’ll outline some ideas for sources of audition information. These sources have been proven to work in many cases, because casting directors actually take them seriously.
A great website where you can find a lot of legitimate, paying projects. You are not likely to win a role in a big budget Hollywood movie by submitting your details at Actors Access, but it’s a great place to start getting noticed.
Casting directors put out electronic break-downs on the site to which actors can respond directly with no need for an agent (although many agents also use the service too). The work advertised includes low-budget Indie movies, plays, promos and the occasional pilot. The big casting directors won’t normally submit breakdowns to Actors Access unless they are looking to cast a very specific role and are struggling to find the right person on the books of their regular agents.
Check the site every day, and submit yourself early for the projects you think you are ideal casting for. Don’t ever submit your details for a role that you aren’t right for as this will look unprofessional.
The great thing about Actors Access is the way they vet the casting directors; they have the best interests of the actors at heart and won’t allow any scammy ‘jobs’ to be posted. Many similar websites do no vetting whatsoever, allow anyone to put out a breakdown for an acting job, and then charge their members to see that breakdown.
Actors Access in Five Minutes Video
LA Casting specialises in putting out breakdowns for commercials and is a great place to potentially get an audition without an agent. As with Actors Access, it’s vital to check the site every day and submit yourself for the work as soon as you can. The sooner you get on the radar of the casting director who is working on a specific project, the better.
LA Casting allows actors to upload ‘skill clips’; this is an opportunity to showcase any of the talents or special skills listed on your resumé. This is a wonderful way for casting directors to be introduced to you and see you on camera. Casting directors often save a few slots at auditions for actors they have never met; seeing a video beforehand lowers the risk factor. By just seeing a headshot, casting directors have no reference of how you really look, sound, move and interact with other actors.
Now Casting is a fantastic platform for any actor at the beginning of their career. The site tends to specialise in student films and non-union projects. The acting jobs advertised here are great for building up credits, getting some footage on film to use in a demo reel, networking with up and coming directors and producers and building a biography and resumé that will get you noticed.
One point to emphasise with all of these online casting breakdown services is always keep on top of your inbox of whichever sites you are using. Check-in at least once a day, as you may be notified of an audition at late notice and the casting director won’t normally call, just email.
Lots of reality TV seems to be cast on Back Stage, but if this isn’t the career path you were hoping for, you can filter the results of your search. This site also has endless casting calls for independent and student films, which as discussed earlier, are great for gaining experience and making contacts.
I would also recommend this site for those of you hoping to get an audition without an agent for non-union theatre, film, TV and modelling opportunities.
One great advantage of this site is that it advertises open-calls for theatre in New York and Los Angeles; go along to as many of these as you can to keep your audition muscles flexible and ready to go. You never know, you might get lucky and book a fantastic job out of it.
Actors Equity – If you’re a union member the AEA website lists audition details on its site.
Research productions – There are endless industry sites and publications available to track and research the progress of productions (IMDb-Pro, Production Weekly, Deadline Hollywood Daily, Studio System. CastingAbout and KabookIt to name a few). Doing this gives you a great idea of what will soon be casting.
Good old-fashioned mail – Target specific productions and roles (which you have researched) and send a well-worded letter, your headshot and a demo reel to the casting director. It may seem out of date in this electronic age, but traditional paper mail is worth a try. Who knows? Perhaps the casting director will be impressed with the novelty factor.
Newer casting breakdown services – Actor Cast, Let It Cast and Casting Frontier all provide similar services to Actors Access, but are perhaps not quite as established.
Craigslist – Be ultra-cautious using this site for audition information (and all the others for that matter, but particularly this one). Never take your clothes off at a pre-read (even if the part eventually calls for it), never pay to attend a casting, never go to an audition at a private residence and always follow your instinct; if it feels like a scam, it most probably is.
Unnamed sites that sell ‘Real Hollywood Breakdowns’ – Don’t be a fool. Steer clear of these sites that have scam written all over them. Even if they genuinely did offer you access to a real breakdown, how are you intending to proceed from there?
Perseverance and Professionalism
You will always stand the best chance of getting castings for good, high-profile acting jobs by securing representation a respected and hard-working agent.
If you aren't in this lucky position, don’t give up at the first knock-back. Be methodical and tenacious in your approach to using any of the online services listed in this article.
Make sure your profile page looks professional and that you are taking advantage of any of the tools available to promote yourself on the site; video, photos, clear list of credits, voice clips and a thorough but concise biog.
Check for new auditions every day and submit yourself regularly, but only for roles you know you are perfect casting for.
If you do this, it won’t guarantee your success, but it will give you the best chance to get an audition without an agent.