What’s the difference between "On hold," "On avail," and "Pinned"? In reality there is little to no difference between those three phrases. But let’s take a closer look at them.
“On hold” and “pinned” are the same thing. They are used mostly for theatrical projects: films and television shows. The word pinned comes from a time when actors submitted hard copy headshots.
After the auditions, the casting directors would “pin” the headshots of the actors they were interested in up on the wall of the casting office. They might have two or three for each role and it allowed them to study the headshots side by side. For whatever reason, in our digital age, the term is making a comeback. After years of not hearing that phrase, my agent has sent me a number of emails stating that a casting director has pinned me for a role.
Being pinned might mean that it’s between you and one other actor, or maybe two or three others, but usually not more than a total (including you) of four. It’s a good thing – it means you are seriously being considered for the role. But, if you don’t get the role, it can also make you frustrated, knowing that you were so close.
I'm on hold (same as pinned) for a big role right now, and part of me wishes I didn’t know that. It makes me a little nuts every time I get a call or text and it’s not my agent. Last year I did six auditions for different TV shows in a couple of months and I was pinned on four of them. Didn’t get any of the four. But after another one of the auditions during that two month span, my agent simply called to say I'd booked it – no hold or pin.
As for “avail,” it is usually (but not always) used for commercials. It simply means that the casting director is interested in you (along with two or three others) and has called your agent to check that you are available to work on the days of the shoot. Or during the period when the shoot is taking place. They may be shooting for a week, but only need you for a day or two during that week. They may not know the exact day you’ll be working but want to know that you are available during the entire week they are shooting.
None of the terms mean you are booked, or that the producers are obligated to pay you if they don’t use you. The terms simply mean you did good, and are in the running!
As always, if you have a question, drop me a note and I’ll do my best to answer it.
The Actor's Guide To Auditioning