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The Breakdowns *cue ominous music*

November 10, 2011

This isn’t going to be one of those posts where I give you any helpful advice…sorry. I like to be helpful, but I haven’t entirely developed my opinion on this one yet. In fact, I’d kinda like to ask you.

I’m talking, of course, (if you’re a quick one and read the post title, haha) about…THE BREAKDOWNS! You know, the ones that go to agents and we lowly actors aren’t supposed to even see? Well, I think we all know that some of us DO see them. And many of us do find them helpful.

People have very, very strong opinions on the subject and they run the gamut from “of course actors should be getting them, it’s invaluable information” to “it’s illegal and anyone who sees them when they shouldn’t be is heading for some serious repercussions.”

So I guess I’d like to take the chance to ask my fellow actors where they fall on the spectrum. This is such a taboo subject in our world, and my personal feeling is that nothing good comes of anything being taboo! Let’s discuss it! And if you’re still nervous about it, the good news is: this poll is anonymous 🙂

And also, if you wouldn’t mind, please take a second to elaborate on your feelings down below in the comments section. Casting directors and agents who have strong opinions on the subject are also absolutely welcome to weigh in! Let’s end the taboo-ness of THE BREAKDOWNS subject together.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. November 10, 2011 11:11 am

    Another alternative: In the UK, there is a thing called a co-op agency. These are legitimate and successful agencies that are run by a cooperative group of actors. Each actor in the agency has a commitment of office hours, whereby they act as the agent for the day, and submit and promote fellow actors. Because they set themselves up as a proper, working agency they do get breakdowns, “legally.” It works in many cases. And they aren’t trying to pull one over on the casting directors. They self-identify as a co-op agency, and it seems fine. They don’t have the pull of the huge agencies, but they are able to get themselves seen. Of course, the UK doesn’t have the same union-franchising rules that the agencies here have, (please don’t quiz me more, I’m not a total expert on this, I just know it’s different!) But in any case, I think the point I’m making is that rather than complaining about not getting the breakdowns or getting them “illegally” maybe actors here can think of alternative ways to get access to casting directors and big jobs ..

    Does anything like a co-op agency exist in the US? I’m not sure, I’ve never seen it but maybe I’m missing something?

  2. Thalia permalink
    November 10, 2011 12:09 pm

    I was in a relationship for a while with another actor who had access to them somehow (I can’t recall how he was getting them) and he’d forward me things that he thought I should follow up on. I did once or twice, but it never did me any good. And I never figured out a good way to get my resume in there without it being clear I got the info through a shady breakdown. Eventually I stopped bothering.

  3. November 10, 2011 1:04 pm

    From casting perspective – the more options, the better. so I personally don’t mind people ‘stalking’ me for a specific gig. Just be smart about it – and make sure the role is a perfect fit.

    From an Actor’s perspective, it’s good to know what is going on out there. Who is doing what. It can be helpful to to see where you fit in the industry and how many roles are suitable for u on a daily, weekly basis – this will help the actor re-formulate their marketing strategy – from targeting specific casting office for future opportunities, or explore 7 develop other character types that fits the genre of a specific show, etc.

    I have once gotten ‘sales’ pitch in the email with sample breakdowns. they are usually 1 day old. Unless the role is super specific – otherwise, all episodic appts have been made already. So the best way is to call Agent/Manager to pitch the actor over the phone with Casting Office…. For Films, there’s more time involved. So for actors without representation, mail in headshot/resume or drop off (if the casting office accepts drop offs).

  4. California Triple-Threat permalink
    November 10, 2011 1:39 pm

    Knowledge is power! Every performer should be finding out as much as possible about the projects they are auditioning for. Some casting websites like actorsaccess.com have breakdowns available for any of their members, whether agents or actors. Yes, its harder to get seen as an unsigned actor, but the more you know the better chance you have to submit for things that are perfect for you!

    • November 13, 2011 11:12 pm

      On actors access, try to have some sort of media on your profile, even if you’re not going for film. Submissions with no media, go right to the bottom of the pile, so you may be among thousands of submissions and not even get seen! Get an “Actor Slate” or make your own version of one. I’m currently working with someone (stevecarmonanow.com) to make my own.

      • California Triple-Threat permalink
        November 14, 2011 1:10 am

        you are a smarty– I only have headshots on mine. Time to make a 30 second reel!

  5. November 14, 2011 6:17 pm

    Thank you, Wayne for your clear and actionable advice. I completely agree that the more information and knowledge an actor has the better; however, I always recommend using it wisely and professionally.

    Thank you, Kate, for bringing this topic out of the closet!

  6. January 18, 2016 12:17 pm

    I had free access to the breakdowns until recently, and found them very helpful in terms of knowing what’s going on, and what projects are looking for. I never abused them by tracking down casting directors, and rarely bothered my agents with anything, but I wanted to stay informed. TV especially is not worth trying to follow up on with my agents, because the process moves so quickly, but it’s a great way to know which roles theatres are casting. I wish there was a version actors could legitimately access via subscription that did not have a submission function, just to keep up to date.

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