Everything You Need to Know About Modelling Agency Open Casting Calls

The top modelling agencies all have open casting calls, where you can drop by in the hopes of being discovered.

Here’s what you need to know to put your best foot forward.

What is a Casting Call?

A casting call is an industry phrase which basically means an audition. An open casting call is, therefore, an open audition – meaning you don’t need an invitation but can instead drop by on a designated time and date along with hundreds of other hopefuls for the chance of being discovered.

In the modelling industry, open casting calls are also known as go-sees and walk-ins. The term ‘cattle call’ was used, though though it is uncommon now.

Any talent-related industry including modelling, moviecommercialbroadway theatre and TV can have open casting calls. Agencies and production companies are always on the lookout for the next best thing. Open auditions give undiscovered hopefuls, unknown actors and aspiring models with no experience a chance to be noticed.

What Famous People Were Discovered At Open Casting Calls?

Evanna Lynch

You may know her better as Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series. Evanna had no prior experience before shooting to fame as the quirky blonde. She even beat professional actress Saoirse Ronan to the part.

Gabourey Sidibe

Gabourey was discovered at an open casting call and played the character Precious in the titular film. She has no previous acting experience and beat over 300 others who auditioned in nationwide casting calls.

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open casting calls

How to Find Open Casting Calls

Open casting calls are usually advertised on agency websites, on social media and sometimes in the newspaper. It’s a good idea to follow all your favourite brands and agencies on social media in case they advertise an upcoming casting call.

A casting call will explain the sort of person they’re after and name a time and a place for you to go if you think you have what it takes. Open auditions can take place for men, women and kids.

Casting calls and open auditions usually take place in major cities like London and Manchester.

What to Expect at an Open Casting Call

​As you might expect, open casting calls open the door for everyone to have a go – so they’re very popular. That means you’ll face competition from hundreds, if not thousands of other aspiring hopefuls.

Upon arrival, you will be asked for your name and a few other details. You will then have to wait to be seen. This could take hours, so be prepared to spend a lot of your day sitting in a room with lots of other people.

When it is your turn, you may be seen in a small group or individually. You will meet the casting director and will be asked a few questions. These questions are an attempt to see what your personality is like, so try to refrain from boring one-word answers but also don’t get too excited and take up too much of their time.

You will likely be asked to show off your walk and you may even be asked to try on an outfit or two, though this is unlikely as they rarely have time.

Open casting calls can be incredibly daunting as you will be judged within seconds and won’t have much time to sell yourself. You will receive a reply almost immediately.

If they are interested, you will be invited back to another audition at another time when they can put more time aside to look at your potential.

How to Prepare for an Open Casting Call

– Know the route. Ensure you know the location and route you will be taking to the casting call. You don’t want to get lost on the day.

– Set an alarm. You do NOT want to be late to an open casting call. Anyone late will simply be turned away. Make sure you leave plenty of time for travel delays.

– Eat a small meal beforehand. You don’t want to be bloated during the audition, but you also don’t want to feel hungry. It’s unlikely there will be food available, so have a small but nutritious meal before you go and bring some snacks and a bottle of water.

– Practice your walk. It’s likely they will ask to see your walk, so make sure you practice beforehand and feel comfortable and confident in your heels.

– Practice your posing. You need to be comfortable in front of the camera.

– Practice your speaking. You need to be confident in the spotlight.

– Plan your outfit in advance. Your outfit is very important; it needs to show off your physique without distracting attention from your natural beauty. Choose your outfit and make sure it is clean, pressed and ready to wear in advance.

– Plan your hair and make-up. Make sure hair is freshly washed and styled. Don’t bother with an elaborate up-do as casting directors will want to see you with your hair up and down. Plan a fresh, natural and flattering make-up look to emphasize your best features and cover any darkness or blemishes you may have. If they like your look, they will probably photograph you with a polaroid camera, so try to avoid any powders that have flashback.

Occasionally, being late is unavoidable. In this unfortunate circumstance, you must ring your agency with as much notice as possible to tell them how late you expect to be. Be apologetic and don’t let it happen again – a model with a reputation for lateness will not be booked.

What to Bring to an Open Casting Call

Try to arrive at a casting call early. Agents will get tired as the day goes on and you want to try and see them when they are feeling positive and alert. Agents who are tired or in a bad mood may make more rash decisions and turn away more aspiring models.

Do not bring anyone with you unless you are under 18, in which case you will be legally obligated to bring a parent or guardian. It can be tempting to bring a partner, friend or family member with you for moral support but it is not only unnecessary but unprofessional; you wouldn’t bring your mum to a job interview. If you really need the support, have your friend or family member wait for you in a cafe nearby, but prepare them to potentially have to wait for a few hours. You may wish to bring someone along for safety reasons (for example, if you are meeting with an agency you haven’t heard of before) and this not only perfectly acceptable but quite wise. They can wait in the lobby or near the door and a legitimate agency should not have an issue with this.

If you ever feel so unsure that you feel you need a friend or family member with you at the actual interview, it might be a good idea to step back and evaluate whether it’s a good idea to attend the interview at all. A model should endeavour to be safe in all situations, especially when meeting new people. Research any advertised opportunities to ensure they are legitimate and always tell family or close friends where you are going and who you are meeting. Never accept a job over the internet if you are not appropriately and professionally vetted. Many scam agents try to take advantage of aspiring models and you must be alert and wary of such companies and people.

Casting call directors expect models with little to no experience to attend, so you may get away with not having a modelling portfolio or a z-card with you. However, it’s an excellent idea to have both a portfolio and a z-card with you as it shows professionalism and will show you are serious about the job. Think of it like turning up to your first job interview without a CV; while you are yet to have a job, bringing a document with relevant work experience will help hirers decide whether you are a good fit for the role. A portfolio and z-card will help you stand out from the crowd and to help the casting director see your potential as a model.

You don’t need work photos to include in your portfolio. If you are yet to experience a professional photoshoot, you can get a friend or family member to take photos for you at home. The higher the quality of the images, the better, so try to find someone with a high-quality camera. Use natural lighting and take photos that include close-ups of your face (aka beauty shots) and also full-length body images. Try different outfits, hairstyles and make-up looks to make your portfolio interesting and diverse.

It’s a good idea to bring other relevant information with you such as brands you may have worked with in the past as well as your modelling measurements, shoe size, clothing size etc.

It’s a good idea to bring a bottle of water and some snacks with you as you will be waiting around for quite a while. Bring a book and something to keep you occupied.

Bring some heels that fit you properly and that you know you can walk in well. If you don’t bring your own shoes you may be required to walk in a pair they provide for you. These might not be your size and they will have been worn by hundreds of other people (and probably not cleaned).

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