I can’t tell you how important it is to build relationships in this business. From my experience, there are people in this industry who approach a director, manager, casting director, agent, writer with a selfish intent. I can always tell when an actor approaches me with the clear objective of getting work from me. When/ if they glean that they can’t get work from me, they quickly move on. They see me and my colleagues only as a means to an end. No one wants to be treated that way. Yes, you want to work, but this is not the best way to go about it.
I love that actors are so passionate, but a self serving approach doesn’t get you ahead. What does get you ahead is building relationships with people. For example, on a regular basis I get calls, emails, and dropbys from actors who ask some variation on “Do you have any roles for me?”
This phrase usually comes in the first moments of the conversation. Half the time, the actor doesn’t even tell me his name. I get it, you’re looking for work, but I’m not a vending machine for acting jobs. I’m a person who works very hard and appreciates respect.
The best way to approach an industry professional, especially someone you’ve never met, is to look up how that person wishes to be contacted. Guides like Call Sheet state each office’s preferred contact method. If in doubt, send a personal postcard.
When you meet someone in person, pay attention to the social cues that person gives you. Short answers usually mean that we’re very busy. Don’t keep pushing and probing. Don’t just try to find what I can do for you. See what you can do for me, in a non-kiss ass way. This relationship should be a two-way street. We need talented actors to fill roles, and you need roles. We should be working together. Engage us as humans and we will do the same.
So, when building those relationships, it’s important to get to know people a little bit (but not pry into personal business).