13 Casting Terms You Should Know

JUNE 4, 2020
Casting terms on a clapperboard in front of an actress.

The entertainment industry has a language all its own. Whether you’re trying to book a job or are on set, the lingo can be confusing, so we put together a list of some common casting terms to help you become a successful Background Actor.

1. Avail

Avail is short for availability and is often used in phrases like “checking your availability” and “first avail.” When a Casting Director is checking your availability, they want to know if you are available to work without time restrictions on a given day or set of days.

If you’re put on first avail, it’s often because a Casting Director has sent your photos to production or is waiting on additional role requirements before they can officially book you. If you have questions about avail messaging or just want a refresher, here are some tips on messaging with a Casting Director.

2. Look

In casting terms, your look refers to your appearance and your ability to portray a role without the help of wardrobe. Your look can depend on a variety of factors, including hairstyle, facial hair, piercings, and tattoos. If there are multiple looks you can portray, you can take additional photos to add to your online profile.

3. Portray

Your look determines the roles you can convincingly portray. In job posts, you’ll see phrases like “portrayable age” and “portrayable ethnicity.” That’s because Background Actors are cast based on how well their look fits with a production’s vision of a role. So even if you’re a lawyer in real life, you may not be able to portray a lawyer on every TV show.

4. 18tly (eighteen to look younger)

Someone who is 18tly is at least 18 years old, but can portray younger. Minors have strict limits for how long they are allowed to work, so productions may opt to hire adult actors who can portray younger ages.

5. Open registration

Open registrations are events outside of the normal registration schedule where we register people to become Background Actors with Central Casting. At these events, you’ll fill out paperwork and take a photo for our casting platform. Open registrations can be held in one of our four offices, on location, or on weekends. These events are only for those who have never registered with Central Casting. If you’ve already registered, but want to take a new photo, you can come to one of your office’s Updates sessions. Check our calendar for upcoming open registrations near you.

6. Union and non-union

There are many unions and guilds in the entertainment industry, but as a Background Actor looking for work through Central Casting, the term “union” refers to the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). Non-union Background Actors are those who are not members of SAG-AFTRA.

7. First five

When a Casting Director asks for your first five, they need the first five digits of your Social Security number so they can look you up in our casting platform. Casting Directors will only ever ask for your first five over the phone; you should never send this information in an email or post it on social media.

8. Recall

A recall is when you work a day on set, then are booked to come back on another day. Recalls happen for a variety of reasons, including production needing more time to film or for reshoots.

9. Rush call

A rush call is a booking for same day work, which may require you to get to set as soon as possible. When booking rush calls, Casting Directors may use the After Hours Availability List, post to our Jobs page, or directly reach out to people who fit the look they’re casting.

10. Submissions

When casting their projects, Casting Directors may seek submissions through our Jobs page. Their posts will have specific instructions on what they’re looking for, including portrayable age, portrayable ethnicity, and whether it’s SAG-AFTRA or non-union. They will also include submissions instructions, like whether they want you to call a number or submit via email. Please follow these instructions carefully to ensure you’re submitting the right way.

11. Booked

Getting booked means you’re officially cast in a role. At Central Casting, you are not booked until you accept an offer for work and receive details. There are many ways for you to book a job, from getting an availability message to responding to a job post.

12. Call time

Your call time is when you are expected to be at your booking location, checked in, and ready to work. Your booking details will include how to get your call time changes, which will likely be sent through our messaging platform. Remember, call times often change throughout the night, so it’s important to check for updates before you go to bed, when you wake up in the morning, and before you leave for set.

13. Details Blog

All the information you need for your booking, like wardrobe information and call location, will often be given to you in the form of a Details Blog. It’s extremely important to read your entire Details Blog carefully so you’re prepared when you get to set. For more information on what to look for and how to access your Details Blog, see our article 4 Things You Must Know About Your Details.

Now that you’re familiar with these casting terms, learn more about production language and the Stand-In lingo you should know to be a pro on set.

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By Meghan Dubitsky

Article Category:

Industry Essentials