Theories of how best to "land the role" are can be great and helpful and often very "clickable". That's not to say that they are effective for everyone (anyone?). Many are based on statistics and experience, others on mere conjecture.
The following recollection is not meant to be fashioned into a formula, as a thread of events rarely repeats an exact pattern. Still, whether to satisfy simple curiosity, or to reassure irrational worries, perhaps it's constructive (if not always instructive) to share. So here is the story of "How I Got Cast In:"
Alone Yet Not Alone
This was my first full feature film experience, and my combined involvement in pre-production and production was a total of six months! In addition to my two older siblings, some of my very, very best friends now were fellow cast and crew on Alone. Shout out and hugs to all you wonderful people! :)
Back in 2010, I was apprenticing with director George Escobar of Advent Film Group. Even before the project was officially green-lit, I was assisting with the screenplay revisions, proofreading, and breakdowns, etc. Because of my familiarity with the script and source material, as well as an expressed interest in acting, I was soon officially brought on within the casting department, given the responsibility of writing the full character profiles as well as assisting with the character descriptions in the breakdown.
Once casting opened, I asked permission to submit a video audition along with everyone else, which I taped with the help of a friend with a camera, and my sister as my off-screen reader. In hindsight, going through those hundreds of submissions (emails, audition videos, headshots, resumes, etc.) effectively served as an immersive, intensive education not only on acting for the camera, but the business side of acting and casting! Later on, during callbacks, I served as the reader (still one of my favorite "acting workouts"), accompanying the director, casting director, and a camera operator to various cities in VA and NC to see talent again in person. The trip concluded by arriving on location in Roanoke, VA, where we did a local extras casting call.
Much to my surprise, about a week before production began, I was asked to do a live callback with the casting director and director. Later that day they offered me a different, smaller part than I'd originally auditioned for. In a way, it's very brevity was a fun challenge: a young German immigrant colonial woman who, in the space of 30 seconds, expresses deep hope that quickly turns to broken despair, crying uncontrollably (and did I mention the German accent?!). Not only was that a great and unexpected opportunity, but since I was on location throughout the nine-week shoot dealing with principal cast logistics and background casting/wrangling, I learned a lot more than just being on set for one or two days! I am so grateful for all of my supportive mentors during that time.
The day we filmed my scene, which included over a dozen principal cast members, we ran out of light before filming the reverse angles (where my face would be seen), so pick-ups were scheduled later on in the shoot with a 2nd unit, and filmed in front of a green screen (which was quite an experience in itself!). Whether the shots from pick-ups simply didn't match, or the editors felt the scene was running too long altogether, the entire second half of that scene was dropped on the cutting room floor. And so, my first principal role never made it to the big screen.
I never did see "how I did" or get any footage for my reel from it, but fortunately, the way it works is that even if your scene is cut, you still retain the credit for that role. Thus, you can still see my name paired with the character "Katrina" in the cast credit scroll at the end of the film. To sum up, I was "cast yet not seen" in Alone Yet Not Alone, which was later "Oscar-nominated yet not nominated" for Best Original Song. :)
What was your first film role experience like? Feel free to share in a comment below!