Crystal Carson CD & Agent Panel Recap

Hi All!

Recently on July 21st I attended a Industry Panel Discussion of Casting Directors Hosted by Crystal Carson in Atlanta, Georgia. These panelists included:

  • Cheryl Louden-Kubin - C.D The Atlanta Casting Director

  • Susan Reid - A Professor at Georgia State University or Acting-Directing

  • Alexander White- Owner of Alexander White Agency

  • Jessica Fox-Thigpen - Jessica Fox Casting

  • Jacob Lawson - Privilege Talent

  • Risa Bramon Garcia - C.D. BGB Acting Studio

  • Charles Actor/Artist

  • Felisha Terrell- Actress/Artist

Here are some notes I took during the discussion; please note many may be paraphrased and are not direct quotes.

Many believe that L.A Actors don’t do self-tapes

  • Risa- self tapes are queen! Every Month there are more and more people asking for tape

  • Felisha- I love self-tape because you can control environments; on the flip side you sometimes miss out on the opportunity for redirection

Southeast people only get minor roles?

  • We have to do the kind of work to complete with the L.A. Market. We are more than capable and they would much rather hire local anyway. Show up with the mindset

  • Alexander White- I have a client Judd who would always go into an audition no matter where it was, he was always where he needed to be. He took the time in his life to save up money so on a moments notice he would grind and just be there. He also advocated for himself. He worked as a local hire on SEALs in Louisiana and when he found out they were going to more seasons but another location, he made sure he advocated for himself and told them that he was willing to make the sacrifice to move to continue on his role in the series. It worked.

How do you feel about constant emails from actors?

  • Jacob Lawson- If your going to email me, ask what you need to do to improve or updates on how you have been productive. Don’t email me to probe if I am doing my job especially if your not putting in the work yourself to improve.

How many people do you see/auditions do you get for lead roles?

  • Cheryl- 1000-1500 per role, Risa- 300-400 Lead roles, Jessica 300-400 Lead roles

  • Remember Casting Assistant of today is the Casting Director of tomorrow. Treat them with respect and make connections

Other Comments

  • Charles tells his personal story about how he took a break from acting for 23 years. When he came back home after a successful business and found out Atlanta was the new Hollywood & Self Tape was the new craze; he audited a class and was invited to an agency. He now has over 60 credits in the last 5 years and is constantly working.

  • Susan- Watch other peopls’s technique & Train constantly !

  • Felisha- I started acting at the age of 27. I was already smart from being an academic but I quickly learned I needed to train that acting skill just like a doctor has to go to school. Why am I doing what i’m doing? Why am I feeling this? What’s the character’s background? Train your mind to do the homework to learn that character whether its one line or 10 pages. One liners are the hardest by the way.

What’s it like auditioning for a Casting DIrector?

  • Live callbacks are usually 5-7 people per role. Usually there's a camera and backdrop set up with the CD, Producer, DIrector. There may be a mark for you but remember give yourself to move around within your framing to embody the character just like in a scene. Good idea to keep a notebook of each casting directors preferences.

Who are the instructions for and do you have to follow them?

  • Cheryl: You! Slate, title take 1 or 2, background info about actor, etc. These are very simple instructions that people seem to have issues following. If you don’t have a professional set-up then go to a place and be honest where you live!

Q & A

Good vs Bad Practices you see in ATL Market

  • Jacob- show up, be professional, and follow instructions

  • Alexander- Some people get spoiled especially if you are represented and start to turn good things down for no reason. You better have a good reason why your turning down a role while your career is in its developmental stage.

  • Charles- I always look at the producer/director of the project and if they have cast me before, I pass that info to my agent to pass to CD which most of the times guarantees me an audition

  • Felisha- Attitude triumphs talent. People want to work with kind, humble, and responsible people.

  • Susan- trust your agent and build those relationships

Scale + 10% How do you feel about it?

  • Jacob- you have to be a great actor for us to be able to negotiate to get you more money such as double scale.

  • Crystal- The big difference from L.A. Is that the union is very strong there and will push those minimums in pay and stuff whereas here, being a right to work state, many projects are non union and you don’t get those great protections.

  • Cheryl- Unfortunately i’ve missed opportunities because i’ve asked for more pay for the actors. Agents can really negotiate, we can’t.

Is there comedy in Atlanta?

  • Crystal-No sitcomes but a lot of things are dramedy now.

  • Alexander- If you can send 2 takes, show a comedy one.

Are those deadlines/timelines you send out the real ones?

  • Jessica- I don’t cast until the end of the deadline because I don’t want to miss out on any good actors but I also am generous with the amount of time I give actors to submit tapes. I can release Tuesday and have it due Sunday to give actors the weekend. L.A. Actors turn in off book within 24 hours. Some people I see asking for extensions after 5-6 days of time.

  • Charles- Sometimes i’ve been able to get redirection through self-tape simply because I got it in so early. If I have a lot of of auditions at once I look at them all then I knock out the shorter tapes first.

  • Felisha- I prioritize by the role I like the most the difficulty such as accents, period pieces, etc.

If I mess up yet its still interesting should I still submit?

  • Cheryl/Crystal- Sometimes you have great tapes where you can tell your in it, and truthful but you mess up a line or 2. That’s ok if your work is really good.

Of course there was a lot more information given during the panel I was not able to jot down but overall a great discussion with amazing insight.