I think all of us can agree that one of the small pleasures of going through the grind of auditioning is hearing back from casting. I love going to an audition and getting a phone call from my agent telling me I’ve been pinned. It always makes me feel like I did something right, even when I might not have been so sure when I was in the room. So perhaps you went to the audition, rocked it and now your agent has let you know you are pinned. What does it mean, exactly, to be “pinned”? Can you go to other auditions? What if other productions end up wanting to book you?
The first thing to know is that you might get the part (cheers to that!) Someone in casting saw your potential. So give yourself a hug, it’s well deserved! After all, it’s these little moments that help keep our momentum.
As far as actually going from being pinned to booking the job, everyone is different. To date, around fifty percent of my own pins have turned into bookings. I’d still take a pin over not a pin, because pins mean we are top of mind with casting. They are also an opportunity to send a thank you note to casting for seeing you and trusting you.
For more about the business of Acting in Los Angeles, read Get Clever About VO Acting In Los Angeles Part I: The Business of Acting.
Also, actors who deserve a pin are usually worth seeing again, so you may get to visit that office again soon. That’s another win.
That said, there is no contract (yet). You have not been booked – and hence, you must act accordingly. In fact, there is usually more than one actor pinned to a role (probably two, maybe three).
The bottom line is this: until they actually book you, you should not withhold business activities. Instead, you should remain available to other productions who might hire you.
To answer your questions in more depth, here is an excerpt of a SAG-AFTRA theatrical and television memorandum (page 26) that was sent out in 2017 and is currently in effect:
“During the 2017 negotiations, the parties discussed the casting practice commonly known as ‘pinning’ by which a Producer expresses interest in a performer for a certain date or dates, but does not actually engage the performer.
“This is a reminder that ‘pinning,’ or any other similar term that refers to an expression of interest without actually engaging the performer, does not create a binding commitment between the performer and the Producer. A performer who has been ‘pinned’ for certain dates is free to accept other employment for those dates.
“The Producer may request that the performer notify the Producer that he or she is no longer available in the event that performer accepts other employment for dates for which he or she is ‘pinned.’ The Producer may also contact a performer from time to time to discuss his or her availability for dates for which he or she is ‘pinned.’ Nothing herein shall give the Producer the ability to preempt other employment opportunities for a performer that has been ‘pinned,’ but not engaged.
“Retaliating or threatening to retaliate against a performer by refusing to consider the performer for future roles because he or she becomes unavailable for dates for which he or she was ‘pinned’ -but not engaged- is expressly prohibited.
“To comply with the parties’ agreement, please ensure that a copy of this bulletin is distributed to your company’s Casting Executives and Casting Directors as soon as practicable, and is included in any casting policies issued to Casting Directors.”
Obviously, there is no real way to find out if a casting office or producer will retaliate if you become unavailable while pinned, but reputable ones simply wouldn’t.
In summary: great – you’ve been pinned: live your life, and let the pieces fall where they may.
My name is Lili Wexu, I am a Canadian-American actress. I moved to Los Angeles some years ago and I’ve written a few e-books about acting in Los Angeles to help other actors who are considering relocating here (or have recently relocated).