Keeping track of auditions & contacts

I hope you all had a good Christmas holiday. Sorry to be so slow with new postings this month. I was preoccupied with rehearsing a production of Edmond by David Mamet, working on my new screenplay and as usual getting sucked into Christmas madness. But enough about that.

Edwin, an American actor who's recently moved to London from New York posted this question last month:

Q: 'I've always been terrible at keeping track of who I've met, auditions, bookings, etc, no matter which method I try. I thought I'd try to be better after moving here, and still struggle to keep track. I recently was reading this new website, which seems to be associated to various products too:

The Protalent software seemed to be what I'm looking for (although I'm guessing that its mapping service is only for US). Have you heard anything about it, or know anyone who uses it?

Or, do you have any advice of your own regarding keeping track of auditions, contacts, etc?'

I wholeheartedly agree that you should be keeping detailed records of every single audition and every industry person you meet. In my view, good record-keeping is as vital as honing your craft. The entertainment industry is so much about who you know, and effective networking leads to WORK. And that is what we're after, right? Yes, we love acting but it is also a business and we must treat it as such.

So how do you keep good records? The method is not as important as just doing it consistently. I haven't tried the two programs you mention although they do look great. If they have demos, give them a try and see if they work for you.

Although I'd like to upgrade my method to something more high tech, here's what I do now.

For auditions:

Every year I create a Word document divided into 7 columns: date, project, role, type, look/dress, comments, agent feedback, got the job?. Then, as I go through the year I can look through my auditions and start to get a picture of how my career is progressing - what's my hit rate, what sort of roles I go up for, which casting directors keep calling me in, if I get similar notes at auditions, if I don't get jobs - why not, am I getting a balanced range of theatre, TV, film and commerical auditions or is it more one thing than another?, etc. Then based on that information I can make a plan of attack - I need to improve my on-camera auditions, I want to go up for more theatre, I need to improve my English accent, etc.
Here's a sample audition record:
Date: 12 Feb 09
Project: US TV Pilot: Eastwick - Warner Brothers /ABC
Role: Joanna Frankel (lead)
Type: Early-mid 30s, American reporter, serious, painfully shy, comic
Look/Dress: Smart casual
Comments: Kate Dowd casting, run by assistant Bernadette. Maggie Friedman is behind the 1 hour show. Memorized both scenes, did them twice. Got a few laughs. Bernadette's comments: 'you showed the changes well, good sight-lines'
Agent feedback: none
Got the job? no

For contacts:
This is super important. You want to start developing long-term relationships with casting directors, directors and producers - because all of these people can get you work. And each time you have an encounter with someone - by phone, by post, by email - you need to be able to remember important details about them and what's gone on between you. The goal is for industry people to know who you are and what you're capable of so when the right job comes up, they'll think of you.
Here's what I do:
- Keep several folders on my hard drive for each category: directors, casting directors, producers, writers, etc.
- For each category, keep a separate document for every person I've met/worked with
- For each contact I create a Word document that contains this info:
name, company, contact details, associates, personal descriptions, personal data, shows previously cast/directed/produced/written. Then for every transaction I list the date and what happened. I review this document before every encounter with that person.
Here's an sample list of transactions for a casting director:
4 April 06 - Met Suzanne for the first time at casting for [TV show], up for role of Janet. Said I read well but was too young - my headshot made me look older. Asked me if I would be a reader for upcoming auditions since she needed an American accent.
10 April 06 - Reader for [TV project] auditions, met Jim the director, had lunch with Suzanne and Jim.
16 May 06 - mailed new headshot - 'hopefully this makes me look my age'
14 Aug 06 - mailed postcard about [current play]
29 Aug 06 - Suzanne called me to ask if I would play the lead in a reading of a film script
01 Sep 06 - in-house reading of film script. Met several actors and had discussion afterward about script.
You'll start to see very quickly how your relationship is progressing and whether your post or email announcements have an effect - often they do.

Perhaps this could be one of your 2010 resolutions - Get on top of your record-keeping. Good luck!


Anonymous said…

This is Chris Hodges from protalent software (the creators of protalentPERFORMER and iPerform). I just wanted to chime in to let Edwin (and everyone else) know that our products definitely provide mapping for the UK.

iPerform and protalentPERFORMER use Google Maps - UK to provide directions to contacts, auditions, classes and booked jobs.

If you have any other questions feel free to contact us.


Christopher Hodges, CTO
"The Total Career Organizer for Performers"
Natacha said…
Hello Kosha, fellow actress who works in NYC, Paris and Vancouver. It's funny that I ran across your blog while researching acting in London. I have a filmmaker from France who is bringing me there for a production in May. I saw this posting and wanted to reach out to you. I LOVE PERFORMERTRACK. Do you know it? I stared in 2005 with their paper book Holdon Log and Booked Projects shortly there after. I then used their ActorTrack software until last fall. I too stumbled on the ProTalent software and after reading another actors comparison and seeing it for myself realized it was not for me. So I stuck with ActorTrack. It was so helpful. When they went online I went with them to PerformerTrack and I have never looked back. Because you mentionthat you do track some things I think you'll appreciate it. More importantly what do you do with this information? How do you take it and do bigger and better things?You mention the US driving directions. I have used PerformerTrack for international driving directions and I use their currency conversion too. I've had two tech support questions that were answered in minutes by David and Brian who went above an beyond. I also learned from them through their Member Only webinars (they do free ones for all) tips that I beleive helped me with writing a stronger cover letter, saving my money by not relying on a ton of casting websites but on establishing better relationships and creating ticklers, etc. I have had my agent use PerformerTrack to help negotiate better pay rates, I found a math error from one of my unions that saved me money and since 2005 I have not paid an account $35 a month for their services. I can go on and on about the things it has saved me and the way it's helped me see my career in a new light. I am so amazed with all the performers that are using it when I see so many that have not heard about it. PerformerTrack is more necessary than most acting classes...I know I can't believe it myself but if you can act and you don't have the business side, the phone is not rigning so where are you? I would run right over to their and if you ever get to meet them in person tell them I sent you their way. Natacha xoxo
Rebecca said…
Hi Kosha, Hi Edwin.

Thank you for posting this. I was just talking about career tracking in my body align class. I wanted to let you know there's an actor in our loop in Portland, Oregon who wrote about the two programs (then ActorTrack now Performer track that Natacha mentions) that was sort of funny but informative. He works a lot and I'd take to heart his comments especially the workflow of ActorTrack/Performer track. I was already using the Holden log and last year moved to Performer track I had never heard of this other program before Harold wrote about it. I love it for many, many reasons. Here's his blog but there are a few different postings so you'll have to poke around.

He's also posted some 285 + reasons on why he likes Performer track on Twitter or something like that!!

You are so right with your info (auditions & contacts) but like Natasha said you gotta take that info and do something with more pr for you, tracking bookings, seeing if the pay to meets work for you or don't.

Good luck Edwin and Kosha I know this will save you time since I tried the MSWord folder thing to the cross-referencing in Performer track is stellar!! Rebecca
Citizen Deux said…
Wow. Great tools and techniques for this industry! When are you going to compile these tidbits into a book? Perhaps the seminal work on managing the craft?

Chemical engineering missed out on a great contributor.
Jen said…
The subject of keeping track is helful but you gotta do soemthin with the details. It's fun to run into topics of such since so much is take a class, learn a tech., take more classes. but this is a business after all. I met 4 people from Performer track the other day in Hollywood and it was amazing, solid info. Seroiusly peoples' jaws dropped.I wanted to Jump in to let ya all know that I used a product that burned me for performers and I used this form to save money as I got taken of since what I bought was hard t ouse.
I think it is so helpful to help others and save money even aside from the financial times.
Anonymous said…
London actress in America. Too fun to run across your blogpost. On Performertrack to grow my vo career. The new Breakdowns features keep growing and so insightful! Thank you for sharing. I'll never use spreadsheets again.
Kim said…
You should know that iPerformer and protalentPerformer product are no longer listed on the Savvy Actor Website.

I met some actors in improv class who used one of them and it was so awkward to figure out and they had a real bad time with customer service.

They joined me here:

There's a group of us that meets at least one time every two weeks and the support we give each other and the tracking that PerformerTrack offers is fantastic.

Perhaps you can review PerformerTrack for your readers? I met Trish from their office at a networking event and she was very cool.

Anonymous said…
Valuable list of actors using Performertrack. I enjoy reading their comments. I joined in July when the Performertrack team spoke during a Craft-Meets-Business seminar with actor Matthew Arkin- of Arkin family fame. So inspiring and helpful with not focusing on things that stress me out and more on real business tools & applications.

Oh! Here it is:


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