Tools of The Trade
If a CD (casting director) or agent has not yet met you, your 8"x10" photograph serves as an introduction and is your first opportunity to make a positive impression. Your headshot should look like you look on a good day. It should emphasize your most marketable strengths (if they're casting someone with a big nose and you've had your nose washed out in processing, you can guess where your headshot goes). Present a likeable personality; people hire people they like.

You get called in on your headshot. In the casting director's mind you already "look" the part. And let's be clear, you get called in on your "look." As superficial and unfair as it is, you will be type-cast. Asians don't get called in for non-Asian parts and if you look gay you will only be called in for parts for gay men. Don't complain about it, don't try to hide who you are, don't try to change who you are. If they want a flat chested red-head they're not going to consider a busty blond no matter how well you can act. If they're looking for a bubbly personality and you're sensitive and deep they will not hire you, period. Don't waste your time wrenching yourself around into what you think the interviewer is looking for. Go in and demonstrate that you can act, and to what degree, and they will make a decision based on that. If you're right for the part, you get the part. If you're not right for the part, someone else gets it.

Frame on your face with no distracting background, no patterned clothing and no "busy" necklines.
Smile, look directly into the camera.
Select a full-face, natural looking shot. Women who use too much make-up look like tramps in black-and-white photos. That's fine if all you want to be cast as is a hooker (great roles, fun to act, but limited). In black-and-white, red looks black, yellow looks white. Do not submit a composite shot or a touched-up pose. Hire a professional make-up artist. Your best friend is your worst enemy when it comes to make-up and selecting which shot to use. Your agent is the one who has to sell you, let your agent help you pick your headshots. Many agents like to have two or three "looks" to send out. Work closely with your agent on your headshots.
8x10s should be "flush" or "bleed" (NY term) or "borderless" (LA term) to avoid wasted space. Many CD's will not accept lithographs. Spend the money necessary to have real prints made. These are your marketing tools and should look professional.
Your name and Union affilations, if any, should be printed on the front of the headshot. It is wrong to have the type face too large or in some distracting or garish font. To avoid clutter, put all other information and logos on the back or on the resume.

The casting director wants to know what experience you have, if any. Keep the resume simple and neat. For an 8x10 photo, a resume should be cut down to the correct size and glued or stapled to the back. It is also possible to have the resume printed directly onto the back of the photo, but if you work a lot your resume changes often and must be kept current. So, don't print too many of them.

List credits, beginning with the strongest, including title, role played, and where performed. Be honest; don't make up things, and don't hesitate to list small roles and bit parts. If there aren't any professional credits as yet, list all your community theater or school theater experience. Past accomplishments are important to note. If you're a state champion ping-pong player make sure you put that under "special skills." Your look, manner, energy, talent, accomplishments and future moneymaking potential are all necessary ingredients in the entertainment business.

If you have no credits they'll look for training. If you have no training they'll look elsewhere.

Specify Union affiliation (if any), social security number, birthdate, height, hair and eye color. A note on Union affiliations; to many people in the industry you will not even be perceived as a professional until you've made your way into the Unions. Some CD's can't even talk to you until you've gotten into AFTRA and SAG.
Indicate name, address and telephone number of your agent and/or manager, if you have one.
NEVER LIST YOUR HOME ADDRESS. Ask your agent or manager if you should include a phone contact where you can always be reached, such as an answering service or a phone with an answering machine.
List special abilities which may be helpful for the casting director to know: athletic skills, dancing, singing, dialects, playing musical instruments, magic or ventriloquism, etc.
Describe professional training, schools, teachers, length of study, any specialization.
Ask your agent or manager if it is advisable to include date of birth.

DEMO VIDEO TAPES: A professionally prepared 1/2" VHS video demo tape with edited excerpts or clips from TV or film performances can be an effective marketing tool. Another promotional tool is a compilation of clips from your commercials. It is not a good idea to combine theatrical and commercial clips on the same tape. The tape should not be more than five minutes in length and should show only those scenes which best highlight your work. The use and practicality of demo tapes varies from place to place. You should always check with your agent before investing in a demo reel.

DEMO AUDIO TAPES: A professionally-produced audio (voice) tape for voice-over or singing can be an invaluable marketing tool. It should be brief (2-3 minutes), present your normal voice and speaking style and contain portions of only the best work. Do not include character voices or accents and dialects unless you do them very well. Many agents prefer specific tape formats; ask your agent for guidance before having a tape or CD made. Generally speaking, voice-over producers choose talent from a relatively small pool of experienced performers, usually those with whom they have previously worked. Check with your agent before spending your time and money on a voice tape.

Postcards with picture and other information (such as agent, contact number, etc.) may be mailed as reminders to already-established casting contacts. (This practice is more popular in some areas than in others.) The photo may be the same as your headshot, or a reproduction from a publicity photo, print ad or tearsheet. Leave room for a hand-written message.

Keeping a daily record can be extremely helpful, especially for callbacks or figuring taxes. An appointment book, daily log or index card file for interviews, auditions and bookings may include:

date, time, location
what you're auditioning for
name of agent
names of persons met (with correct spellings and titles)
transportation costs and/or mileage
description of clothing worn

Also, include any other special information which may pertain to the specific interview. Remember, the more documentation you keep, the better prepared you will be. This is impertive in voice-over and animation where the audition may be conducted up to a year before being cast.

It is your responsibility to keep accurate records of all jobs performed and all money which you earned (such as session fees, residuals, etc.), commissions paid and other professional expenses. This information is essential for preparing your tax return and will provide a valuable way of confirming that the Unions' and the agents' records are accurate.

TRADE PAPERS: The "Trades" are periodicals which gather and publish news and information on all aspects of the entertainment industry, including casting notices. Some of the Trades are:

VARIETY - national in scope (weekly)
DAILY VARIETY primarily Los Angeles information (daily)
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER- primarily Los Angeles information (daily)
BACKSTAGE primarily New York information (weekly)
DRAMALOGUE/BACKSTAGE WEST - primarily Los Angeles information (weekly)

Talent Directories are used by casting directors in every facet of the entertainment industry throughout the country. For a fee, a performer may be listed (with photo and contact phone number) in one or more categories.

The Players Guide, a New York publication, is updated annually. Only Union members may be listed. The Players Guide offices are located at 165 W. 46th Street.
The Academy Players Directory, a Los Angeles publication, is updated three times a year by the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences. Any performer may be listed. The Academy Players Directory is located at 8949 Wilshire Blvd., in Beverly Hills.
In other parts of the country, talent directories are published by some AFTRA and SAG locals, film commissions, talent agents and regional publishers.

Ross Reports is updated and published monthly in New York. It contains detailed listings (names and addresses) for Advertising Agencies, Independent Casting Directors, Commercial Producers and Talent Agents in most major metropolitan areas. Also included are contracts and information for Network, Daytime and Prime Time Programming on both coasts.
The CD (Casting Director) Directory and the Agent's Agency Guidebook are published quarterly in Los Angeles and New York by Breakdown Services. They provide alphabetical or geographical listings, as well as listings of personnel at each office. Both guides are available at theatrical bookstores.
The New York City Casting Guide provides alphabetical listings of entertainment industry-related persons and places, cross-referenced by street address.