What is the difference between a “first refusal” and a “hold”?

When a casting director issues a “first refusal” it means that a final casting decision has not been made; the casting director is requesting that the performer contact him/her before accepting a booking for another job on the same day(s), i.e., giving the original producer the first opportunity to book the person. A “First refusal” is not a booking and the performer has no contractual obligation to get back to the casting director or turn down the second job nor does the producer owe a cancellation fee if the performer is not used. As a professional courtesy, it is suggested that the performer advise the casting director of the second job before accepting the booking.

If a performer has been put on “hold,” the producer has engaged the performer and a cancellation fee is due if the producer cancels the engagement. A cancellation fee would not be paid when a performer is placed on an “avail” and not used.

These terms are not always used properly. If you have a question as to whether you have been definitely booked, you or your agent should ask the casting director, “Is this a booking?”