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Lori Wyman
 
Local Hires
| Monday, 04.09.2018, 11:32 PM |   (7013 views)

Local Hires

By Lori S. Wyman, CSA

I am a casting director.  In case you are not 100% clear, let me explain what I do. I work for the production company. I am hired and sent a script and asked to find the actors for the characters that will be cast out of Florida or Georgia or wherever the project is shooting. I then contact the agents in that area and ask them to submit actors who are available to work on my project.


Oftentimes I cast a project and ask for LOCAL HIRES ONLY! What this means is that the actors whom I hire must be willing to work as if they live in the town they are shooting. For example, if I am casting a TV show in Miami, that means that the actors I hire must arrive on set in Miami without any financial assistance from the production company. LOCAL HIRE means we don’t provide mileage, hotel, per diem, travel allowance or pay for travel days. You are hired as if you live in that town. Sometimes actors say they will work as a local hire because they want to work and will figure out how to show up on the set at the designated time and date.


BUT sometimes, the actor says they will work as a local hire and they really don’t mean it. That’s what I want to address in this article.


I have many stories, but I will mention just a couple here. Several years ago I was casting a USA network TV show called The Glades. I put my breakdown out to the local agents only. Somehow a manager from out of town got ahold of my breakdown and submitted an actor. That actor self taped and did a really great job. Normally, I would not submit an out of town actor if I don’t know them, but this role was harder for me to cast locally and this actor gave a really great audition. I contacted the manager and asked if his client would work as a local hire. The manager assured me that he would work as a local hire and had friends in Miami he could stay with and I should feel secure in the fact that this actor was on board with the local hire request. So, I submitted him. I am sure you can see where this is going. We submitted this actor’s audition to the producer and director. They loved him. Then he went up the ladder to the network and the studio. Everyone signed off on him. (meaning, they all agreed to hire him) I sent an email to the manager and congratulated him and told him that his client had booked the role. NO RESPONSE! I contacted him again! No response again! Now, I am starting to get nervous. Where is this manager and why won’t he respond? On the third day of trying to get the manager to get back to me, I got an email from an LA agent. This woman told me that she was going to represent this actor and that I would need to deal with her from now on. I really didn’t care who I was going to deal with, I just needed to book this actor. Then she informed me that this actor lives in LA and he is NOT going to work as a local hire. I explained that the manager wrote in an email (I had written proof) that his actor had friends in Miami and was a local, as we call it. She contradicted him and said her actor knew NO ONE in Miami and if we wanted to book him we would have to travel him (give him a flight), pay him more than scale, (the base pay) and provide housing. (a hotel) NOW I had to go back to my producer and tell her all of this. As you can well imagine I wasn’t happy having to make this phone call and she wasn’t happy receiving it. BUT now that the studio and the network had signed off on this actor, we had to go ahead and hire him. Needless to say, I can never work with that agent, that manager, nor that actor again.


Another such story involved an episode of Burn Notice that I was casting. A Miami actor I had known for several years had relocated to Los Angeles and stayed in touch with me, because he was desperate to work on Burn Notice. He would reach out to me periodically to remind me that he was out there. One script came across my desk and there was the perfect role for this guy. I contacted his local Florida agent and explained that he could self tape, but he had to work as a local hire. The agent contacted him and he was thrilled to do so. They told me that he had numerous friends here in Miami, since he had lived here for several years, and he had many couches he could sleep on. I sent him the sides (that portion of the script that has your particular character on it) and told him to put his audition on tape. I presented his audition tape to the producers and they booked him. I was so thrilled for him and I knew this was something he wanted so badly. Initially, he was booked for a week and I gave him those dates. He made his plane reservation. As a courtesy, I arranged for him to get a hotel room since he was paying for his flight. A few days before he was shooting, the schedule changed, and his work schedule went from 5 days of shooting to 3 days of shooting. We would still pay him for the 5 days since we had originally booked him for a week. He flew in to Miami and went to his hotel. He worked his 3 days on his beloved Burn Notice and then the hotel told him, after 3 days, that his hotel stay was over. Guess what he did? He contacted his union, Screen Actor’s Guild, to tell them that Burn Notice was throwing him out of his hotel and he wanted to fine the production company. W H A T ? ? ? ? Of course the union didn’t even bother hearing my side of the story, which was the true side of the story, and contacted the production company instead. We straightened everything out because this actor was not entitled to any more days in the hotel. You see, he had purchased his plane ticket so he could stay in Miami for a week instead of 3 days, and he wanted a hotel room as opposed to the couches he had told me he would stay on. You can probably figure out that I cannot work with that actor anymore.


I am not the only casting director who has been burned by actors who tell us one thing and then when we book them, they completely change their story. Doing that does not benefit anyone. I will tell you what it does do. It makes it really hard for the next actor who comes along.


I am currently casting a film that will shoot in Atlanta, Georgia. I have asked that everyone work as a local hire. The production company does not want to incur the expense of the travel, accommodations, and per diem. It really adds up, as you can imagine. I put the casting out to agents in the Atlanta vicinity. I didn’t send my breakdown to agents outside of the local hire area to Atlanta, so I wouldn’t have to deal with actors from outside of the local hire zone. I started receiving tapes about a week and a half ago. Do you know how many actors said in their slate that they are based in LA, California or Houston, Texas, Huntsville, Alabama, and so on? More than I care to say. When I called the agents to see if these actors would work as true local hires, I started hearing hemming and hawing and things like,” Well, won’t production pay for their hotel if they like them?” I don’t write LOCAL HIRE on my breakdowns just for fun. I actually mean it!!


I just want to give you a piece of advice from my over 35 years of casting experience. If you want to work in a place as a local hire, you need to get an agent in that locale. If the requirements indicate that you need to work as a true local hire, with absolutely no assistance, be prepared to do that. Do not self tape with the thought in the back of your mind that maybe production will LOVE you and give you the farm. THEY WON’T! They will be mad at you and the casting director will most probably think several times before they ever submit you again. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face! This is a business and business people are always trying to save money, which is why they always look to hire locals when they shoot a project in a particular area.


Think very carefully when you self tape for a project. If it is a major imposition to work as a local hire in a town that you don’t live in, please do not self tape for that project. In the long run you will be much better off.


Lori S. Wyman, M.S., C.S.A. is dedicated to helping actors pursue their passions so they can live their dreams. Traveling all over the country, Lori draws industry beginners and professionals to hear her expertise on the subject of Auditioning for Film and Television projects. Lori has recently been the Florida Casting Director on Netflix’ Bloodline, HBO’s Baller$, Graceland, Burn Notice, The Glades, Magic City, Pain & Gain, Iron Man 3, Dolphin Tale, Dolphin Tale 2, Every Witch Way, and too many more to list.

 She recently completed her Master’s Degree with a concentration in Drama Therapy. She tackled this in order to help actors overcome Audition Anxiety as she sees this as one of the major obstacles facing actors during their castings.

 Lori’s Book: The Organic Actor: Insider’s Secrets to Auditioning for Film and Television is widely acclaimed and a “must have” for any actor who intends to make Film and Television acting a part of their acting career.

 Lori has been in casting in Florida since 1979. She has been nominated for 5 Artios Awards for projects including “Dexter,” “Pain and Gain,” and “Bloodline,” and has 1 Emmy nomination. She is an Artios Award winner for the acclaimed HBO movie, “Recount.”

Lori's office is located in North Miami Beach, Florida, but she travels all over the Southeast for casting projects. She can e reached at wycast@aol.com


Lori Wyman


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