13 Casting Terms You Should Know

NOVEMBER 21, 2022
Casting terms on a clapperboard in front of an actress.

The entertainment industry has a language all its own, which can make finding background work confusing. We put together a list of some common casting terms to help you navigate submitting for jobs and getting booked by Central Casting.

1. Online profile

Your online profile is one of the best tools you can use to find work with Central Casting. Casting Directors use the information in your profile when booking their shows; the more accurate information you add, the easier it is for them to determine the types of roles you can portray. We recommend uploading current photos any time your look changes to ensure we always have an accurate photo of what you look like right now.

If you need technical help with your online profile, you can contact our tech support team at helpme@centralcasting.com, 855.500.2055, or through tech support chat.

2. Sizes and measurements

Your sizes are often used when production provides wardrobe and when booking Stand-Ins and doubles. If you do not have sizes in your profile or if your measurements are inaccurate, you may be missing out on jobs you’re perfect for. Learn more about how to determine your sizes and why they’re important in our article Why Updating Your Sizes is Essential for Background Actors.

3. Availability inquiry

If you fit the look for a role, a Casting Director may send you an availability inquiry through our casting platform. This message will include information about the role, work dates, and filming location. It’s important to read these messages completely and carefully before responding. We ask that you respond as quickly as possible to all availability inquiries, even if the answer is no. This lets Casting Directors know if they need to reach out to additional Background Actors.

When Central Casting checks your availability, we are not offering or guaranteeing work, we are only asking if you can work without time restrictions on a specific date or date range. “Without time restrictions” means that there are no possible conflicts that would prevent you from working that day.

4. First avail

If you confirm availability, but the Casting Director cannot book you right away (often because they are waiting on additional requirements from production), they may follow up with a first avail message. First avail does not mean you are booked nor is it a guarantee of work and you can still respond as available to other availability inquires.

If you’re on first avail, but are offered a job on a different project for the same date, please call your Central Casting office to explain the situation. The first avail project may opt to hire you first.

5. Look

In casting terms, your look refers to your appearance and your ability to portray a role. Your look can depend on a variety of factors, including hairstyle, facial hair, piercings, and tattoos. We recommend uploading additional photos of unique and distinct looks to your online profile to show Casting Directors the types of looks you can portray.

6. 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. So even if you’re a doctor in real life, you may not fit that production’s idea of a doctor.

7. 18tly (eighteen to look younger)

Someone who is 18tly is at least 18 years old, but can portray younger looks, which is often needed for high school student roles.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. Submissions

When booking their projects, Casting Directors may seek submissions through our Jobs page. Their posts will have specific details on what they’re looking for, including portrayable age, portrayable ethnicity, and whether it’s SAG-AFTRA or non-union. They will also include submission instructions, like an email address and specific subject line to use. Please follow these instructions carefully to help ensure the Casting Director receives your submission.

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 replying to availability inquiries to submitting on our Jobs page.

12. Details

All the information you need for your booking, like hair, makeup, and wardrobe notes, will be included in your details, which you may receive in the form of a details message or a Details Blog. It’s extremely important to read your details carefully so you show up to set as expected. Casting Directors receive booking information from many departments within production and it’s likely you will not receive your details until later in the evening before your work date.

13. Call time

Your details will include an initial call time and information on how to get your call time changes, which can include checking your Details Blog or the inbox of your online profile for call time change messages. Call times often change throughout the night, be sure to check for any changes before arriving to set.

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