"Breakdowns" are what casting directors send out to agents detailing what type of actors they are looking for for specific roles in a project. So, every day (less so now because of the strike) there are tons of new breakdowns that are circulating through the agencies in town. There are some anyone can get a hold of (some of the websites I use, L.A. Casting and Actors Access, have breakdowns that anyone can self-submit for), but most of the real plum ones, that is for Film and TV parts, only go to agents, who then submit their appropriate talents' headshot/resumes. From all of these submissions, the Casting Director will select some to come in and audition.
I've been getting these breakdowns for the last week or so. This has been great, as I've been able to see exactly what C.D.s are currently looking for. Every day, I have submitted myself for a couple. I just write a cover letter and send it along with a headshot/resume. A very long shot to get called in, but you never know.
Of course, as you move along in the industry, the likelihood of getting called increases (or at least it should if you are putting in the work!), so it is a good habit to get in now. Surely, I will be more likely to get called in if and when I have 1) recognizable credits and/or 2) a recognizable (and well-respected) agent. Since these things are not exactly within the realm of my control now, I need to focus on the things I can control. And one of them is reading the breakdowns every day and knowing what's out there -- and then submitting, even for long shots. It gets my name/face in front of the CD for a second, even if it gets tossed right after, and that can only help down the road. Or at least, that's the hope ;)
Enjoy the weekend!