First Avail: Everything You Need to Know
You may have heard the term “first avail” in our new registration orientation or may have seen it when texting with a Casting Director, but do you fully understand what it means? Knowing the difference between “checking your avail” and “first avail” and what to do when you are on first avail is a big part of being a Background Actor with Central Casting.
What does “checking your avail” and “first avail” mean?
“Checking your avail” means that a Casting Director is booking a show for a future date and is checking if you are available to work that day. When a Casting Director checks your avail, they are not offering or guaranteeing work, they are only asking if you have all day availability on a specific date or date range. “All day availability” means that there are no possible conflicts that would prevent you from working that day. When booking their shows, Casting Directors may not know call times until they get additional information from production and those call times often change through the night and early morning. That’s why you need to have all day availability when responding “available” when a Casting Director checks your avail.
“First avail” means that you have confirmed your availability, but the Casting Director cannot book you right away, likely because they have sent photos to production or are waiting on additional requirements for the role. Remember, you are not booked unless you accept an offer for work and receive details. So when you are on first avail, you are not officially booked and are still able to look for other work. If you are offered another job, please call the Casting Director you are on first avail for before accepting the offer. Your first avail show may choose to hire you first. Also, if your availability changes while on first avail, please call the Casting Director as soon as possible to let them know you can no longer work on their production.
How will a Casting Director check my availability?
Casting Directors may send you a message or call you directly when checking your availability. Please answer your messages as soon as you can, even if the answer is “unavailable.” If you’re on set and don’t have access to your phone, you can still answer after you’ve wrapped for the day. You never know, the Casting Director may still be booking or additional spots may have opened up.
For more on messaging with a Casting Director, see the Being Booked FAQs.
How do I know if I’m on first avail?
If you’re put on first avail for a project, the Casting Director will either send you a message or call you to let you know.
Remember, not getting double booked (hired for multiple projects for the same work day) is your responsibility. Keeping track of what days you’ve confirmed availability, are on first avail, or are booked for can be confusing, so Casting Directors recommend keeping track of the messages you’ve responded to in a personal calendar or notebook.
Remember, communication is key! When you are on first avail, it’s important to contact your Casting Director as soon as possible if your availability changes or if you are offered other work. This gives them time to work with production to replace you if needed.
Want to learn more about avail messaging and how to get booked by Central Casting? Here are some resources that will turn you into a pro in no time:
- 13 Casting Terms You Should Know
- How to Read a Central Casting Job Post
- How to Manage Your Online Availability Calendar
- How to Claim and Update Your Central Casting Online Profile