Q. Should I leave a message, or call back?
Nick Hartman asked me this question relating to getting show bibles, but it could apply to almost any communication between an unknown and a gatekeeper of some sort -- i.e. an agent, producer, production office, etc.
If you get an answering machine, don't leave a message. Call back. There should always be someone answering at a production office, but if you're getting a machine at an agency or production company, it's probably a holiday. (Or an earthquake.) People are not good about responding to recorded messages when you want something from them and they don't want anything from you.
If you get an assistant, you have to leave a message. It's their job to screen calls. Every so rarely (2% of the time?) you'll get an actual producer or agent picking up his or her own phone by accident, so be prepared to talk fast. But usually you have to leave a message.
Whoever answers, be nice. This is a true story. An old boss of mine was in the office later than usual, most of the staff had gone. He and his wife were going to a black tie dinner. While he was in the bathroom changing, his phone rang so Mrs. Boss picked it up. The person who called was extremely sharp and rude with her for no good reason, and she took umbrage (rightly so). She relayed the callto Mr. Boss, who ceased all dealings with that person by our company. And never told him why.
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