What is a Casting Assistant Internship?
A casting assistant internship (or a production or agency internship) is like any other internship, i.e., it’s a way to get experience in an industry that you would like to work in; for most people an internship is a stepping stone, an entrée (almost always unpaid), into their vocation of choice, and, done right, they can be highly effective.
If you’re actor or model, of course, your ultimate goal is not to eventually work for a casting office or production house but to work in show business as an actor or model; nevertheless, show business internships can still be incredibly valuable – says Risa Bramon Garcia, one of the top casting directors in Los Angeles:
“Every actor should intern. It shows you what happens on the other side—shows mistakes actors make, and teaches you how to do YOUR work at an audition and what to expect. It’s good to know other alternatives to acting —writing, directing, producing. There’s never been an actor that I’ve known who has not grown from the process of interning.”
In short, you’ll learn how the business end of show business operates and you’ll get to network with established industry insiders – this is a HUGE benefit as show business, probably more than any other business, is a “who you know” type of business when it comes to success.
Where Should You Intern?
You have two choices: either a large or small business. A large business has the advantage of more things going on giving you more things to do and learn. A small business has the advantage of being more personal: you can more easily get closer to industry insiders and it’s easier for them to get to know you. However, don’t let the size of agency, production or casting office keep you from effectively networking as that will be one of your main goals. In the end it comes down to a personal preference; your main consideration should be whether you like who you’re working for and whether you’re getting a chance to learn. If you’re interning at a production office, smaller might be better because they may be more flexible with your schedule.
Finally, pick a place that’s close to you – remember, you’re doing this for free, so you probably have a day job and other things going on; you don’t want to spend a lot of time and money traveling to your internship. Also the nature of the business is that sometimes tasks can come up at the last minute, and if you’re able to come in on short notice, all the better for them – and you!
When Should You Intern?
Show business internships are best for beginning and early career entertainers. If you’re actor who isn’t yet working professionally or if you’re just starting to book small professional roles, an internship can be invaluable.
Biggest InterFACE Talent Agency* Tip: What About Asking for an Audition?
If you’re interning in a casting office you’re going to see a lot of breakdowns for things that are potentially right for you. Should you ask if you can audition for these roles?
Yes and no.
First, do not ask for an audition, or anything else, until you’ve spent a significant amount of time in your internship, at least 4-6 months, and have contributed a lot to the business.
Second, especially do not ask for an audition unless you are a GOOD performer and you know you can nail an audition. If you do get an audition and then perform badly or amateurishly in front of a casting director, this will leave a bad impression of your abilities and talent that will be difficult to overcome. Your poor performance will also reflect badly on the casting director – it’s for this reason that casting directors will not bring in unproven talent to audition: far too much is at stake for casting directors to bring in an actor who cannot audition well.
On the other hand, if you can audition well and if you’re really valuable, fun and they like you, and they think you could do something, they may just offer you an audition. In fact, if you’re a great intern AND you can audition at a professional level, your internship will most likely significantly advance your performing career. David Patrick Green, a professional actor and the founder of Hackhollywood.com, a membership-based website dedicated to empowering and educating actors around the globe on how to become professional actors, found that his career advanced significantly after interning for a major Los Angeles casting office.
But what if your performing and auditioning skills are not where they need to be? Does this mean you should not do an internship? If your primary goal is to start getting auditions, then no: doing an internship and even being a great intern will not help advance your acting career. However, that need not be your only goal. You can work at becoming a better actor and do an internship. Says Bonnie Gillespie, author of Self-Management for Actors:
“There are too many wonderful things to learn, in working in casting office, for the primary goal to be “to get cast.” Just seeing the number of submissions, the process of filtering [who gets seen & who doesn't], can be very eye-opening. You’ll learn it’s never personal when a talented actor isn’t cast. You’ll learn how clear it is which agencies are respected and which ones are not. You’ll learn what a great headshot looks like and how infrequently most of the marketing materials actors spend thousands of dollars on are ever even looked at. You’ll learn a LOT, all while building a relationship with some really talented people who may or may not think about you for a job down the line.”
Check out part II of this post: InterFACE Modeling Agency: Maximize Your Casting Assistant Internship
- How To Get a Casting Internship – The Actors Voice by Bonnie Gillespie
- Will a Casting Internship Benefit Your Acting Career – Brains of Minerva