Casting Advice

Slow Times…How Not To Freak Out

Written By Claire Simon published in acting tips, audition tips, etiquette, simonlive, simonsays, the business of acting

So it’s a gorgeous day on the last day of May, the sun is shinning and we are finally wearing shorts, all of summer to look forward to…but it’s so quiet in our business, you could hear a pin drop in our casting studio. So how do you as an actor not freak out when all the auditions come to a grinding halt and you have no idea what the future holds, much less this week?

Our industry is a cyclical one, and there are times of year we are frantically busy and others, well like now…when it’s no problem to take a day off and take the staff to a Cubs game. All I know is when I was an actor I only knew when the phone rang or didn’t. And when it did, all was right with the world. And when it didn’t I figured I must have been blacklisted by the whole world for no good reason and should move back home with my mom and dad. But there is a whole lot of relief that comes from being informed, and voila’…here I am to do that for you.

There is a lot of TV shot here in Chicago, I’d say right now it’s the bulk of our business. New seasons of most of our shows begin right after the 4th of July and end at the end of April. We still work on theatre and independent films during the slow period, but nothing nearly as busy and fast-paced as when our shows are rocking and in full force. Even knowing that from May to July is slow, it can be disconcerting. For us too. We start out organizing, taking vacations, doing generals and meeting 100s of new faces, but then the silence gets deafening and it’s easy to get antsy (as my mother would say).

So how do you not freak out when it slows down? Not get worried, second guess yourself, or worry about money? And how to stay productive? Well first of all, call your agent and have a conversation about what’s happening currently in the business, and hopefully that should put your mind at ease. Knowing the ebb and flow of the business helps put it all in perspective. But there are things you can do to up your game when there is nothing going on. Productive ways to be better than ever when everything starts up again.

Meet with your agent and have a real conversation about how she/he thinks you are doing. What you could improve on. Maybe new headshots, different haircut. loosing or gaining a few pounds… Ask how she sees you and how you can market yourself better.

Take a class. This is a great time to hone your craft. Learn a new skill, improve your audition techniques, take a scene study class. If money is an issue, ask if they will trade a class for work in kind at their office.

Exercise. Work out with a trainer and get toned up, ride your bike on the lake and breathe deeply, take a yoga class, run, play, move. You’ll look better, but more importantly you will feel better too. Hard to be stressed out when your just trying not to die lifting weights.

Network. Find activities, events, seminars to up your game and meet other people in the business. Check out any panels available to hear speakers on any aspect of the business.

Go to theatre. See shows, get new ideas, and get inspired. If money is an issue, there are so many theaters that have actor’s nights where you can pay what you are able to. Second City’s improv at 1100 is free too.

Do temp work. This is a perfect way to make some cash and keep busy.

Help someone else. There is nothing that takes your mind off your worries than helping someone. Volunteer, help a neighbor, donate blood, read for the blind…do something.

Hang in there. It will all be much better in July!