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Being a commercially represented actor

Commercial: Being A Represented Actor

Many new actors are not really clear about what it takes to have a good working relationship with their commercial agent. It is very beneficial to understand what is expected. So here are the responsibilities and expectations as it pertains to most commercial representation.

Upon signing with your commercial agent, there will be tasks for you do:
• If your agent doesn’t love your photos, he/she will expect you to shoot new pictures.
• You might be expected to redo your resume.
• If you have not taken a commercial or Improvization workshop they may strongly suggest you take one or both to do better auditions.
• You will be told to sign up for one or two of the casting websites.
These actions must be completed before submitting new clients for auditions.

Once you start auditioning, your agent(s) have lots more expectations.

Clients must:
• Have a cell phone with voicemail
• Have appropriate wardrobe for the types of roles they will be auditioning for.
• Keep agents supplied with current pictures and resumes
• Update their profiles on the casting networks with new photos and resume’ changes.
• Always return agents calls within a few hours to confirm auditions
• With a few hours notice, be available for auditions
• Show up for auditions
• Book out with the agency if going out of town or for any reason are unavailable.
• Be on time for auditions.
• Let the agency know if you make or plan to make any changes to your physicality (i.e. large weight gains or loses, braces, hair color or major style changes, etc,).

Signing with representation doesn’t guarantee that you will always be with that agency. After a year, agents often drop clients if: they don’t get a good percentage of callbacks or booking; are not available for auditions or bookings; if they miss confirmed auditions; act unprofessionally at auditions; or are a problem client.

RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR AGENT
Most actors want to create a relationship with their agent(s) but are not sure if they should visit, call, send emails and if so, how often. Your relationship at least for the first year or two is just business. If you are going to visit, call or email, have a business purpose, i.e. to show video of acting work, to select new pictures, get direction on which workshops to take, invite them to a show you are in or to watch a TV program you are on, report any major changes that affect your availability or physicality, etc. Agents are busy working for you and their other clients. They don’t really have the time to hold your hand or hang out with you. If you do have a valid reason then making contact once every six or eight weeks is appropriate for many commercial agents. If you have been with your agent for at least a year and you have booked a few jobs through them, then inviting them out to lunch or giving them a small gift for the holidays would be amenable to most.

LEAVING YOUR AGENCY
If you are unhappy with your commercial agency because you are not getting out on many auditions, the auditions you get don’t feel like a fit, your agent is always unavailable for conversation, – first, try to talk with your agent before you make a move to leave. And only if your issues are not addressed should you drop the agent (only after you have interest from a new one).

To get more info about how to have the best relationship with your agent(s), check out my FREE video BEING A REPRESENTED ACTOR at mastertalentteachers.com in which three top Los Angeles agents talk about what they expect from thier clients.

If you missed the first two articles in this Commercial Agent series, you will find them and the accompanying videos in the archive on my COMMERCIAL page at mastertalentteachers.com.

There is a lot involved in learning to do your best at commercial auditions. For additional insights and tips, check out my book Hit The Ground Running @ www.hitthegroundrunningbook.com and for more information on Commercial Acting Classes: http://carolynebarry.com/workshops/commercial/

Do Your Best Commercial Auditions

Insider Casting Tips to do Your Best Auditions – The Waiting Room

No matter how good of an actor you are or how well you have prepared, once you enter the waiting area and then the audition room, if you don’t know how to “be” in that war zone then your audition work could suffer. Sitting in the holding area with a dozen or more actors, waiting up to an hour or being rushed in with little or no preparation and sometimes getting confusing direction can be very disconcerting and are not usually conducive to actors’ doing their best. Here are several actions that can be taken to help you feel confident, prepared and empowered.

Arrive early: Never be late or even on time because you won’t have options if the session is running on schedule. Be early so you can get settled and focused and have time to adjust your hair, makeup and/or wardrobe, and prepare the audition material. When you are early, you have options.

Ask questions: When you need clarification on the material or what is expected, ask the assistant who is supervising the sign-ins in the waiting area so that you can get the most from your preparation. If you are not sure how to pronounce a word or the product name, ask. If something doesn’t make sense, ask. It’s better to ask questions before rehearsing than to get corrections from the session director in the audition room and have to adjust your work right before auditioning.

Find Out the “Tone”: Every commercial has a style or “tone” that should be factored into the preparation. You might get answers like natural, comedic, quirky, over-the-top, fun/playful,serious, warm, upscale, authoritative, vulnerable, earthy, edgy, over-the-top, understated, etc.

Do your audition preparation: If you haven’t obtained your copy in advance, do your preparation: investigate, motivate, and find your connection and interpretation. If you did receive the copy and worked on it in advance, review your choices and work on your connection. Find a place where you can rehearse in a full voice.

Rehearse with your partner: When you are doing scene auditions, either the casting assistant will assign you a partner(s) or you should check the sign-in list and determine the actor(s) with whom you will probably be paired. This is especially valuable when auditioning with children. Rehearse with your partner(s) or, if there is no dialogue, spend time getting comfortable with them.

Work on several interpretations: Locking in only one way of doing an audition can be problematic. First, it usually creates a fairly shallow interpretation. Second, if the session operator wants a different approach, it can be hard to shake the work you have locked in. Finally, if asked to do the copy or scenario a second or third way, you won’t have it. Work on several approaches.

Deal with your nerves: Every audition is a precious opportunity to work, make money, create contacts and fans and move a career forward. When actors fixate on these expectations before auditioning, it normally creates anxiety and pressure. Don’t focus on disempowering thoughts and questions This “noise” is normal. How you deal with your questions, concerns and expectations will determine how much power those thoughts have. What you think influences how you feel, and how you feel impacts your audition.

Stay relaxed and focused: After you have done a thorough preparation and while you wait, don’t continually run your lines and review your choices, either out loud or in your head. It’s been my experience that when actors do this, they create anxiety and make themselves insecure. Don’t let the frustration of having to wait negatively affect your mood, energy or mind-set. Do whatever works to keep you focused, confident and positive, e.g., meditate, sit quietly, read, laugh, walk around by yourself, etc. Don’t chat with other actors unless
rehearsing or getting comfortable with them. When you know that you will be next, review your choices, lines, objectives, motivations, etc. – but only once or twice more.

Energize and prepare to commit to your choices and instincts and to enjoy the audition. It’s your time to be an actor.

commercial_insider_tips_1

Insider Tips for Doing Your Best Commercial Auditions – Part 1

Commercial auditions are challenging for most actors. Audition material or scenarios are at the most 20 seconds, which means you need to be up to speed right away. No time to get into the material. You are only in the audition room, on an average of 5 minutes. Just a few minutes to get comfortable, answer questions, take direction, hopefully get a rehearsal, slate and do one or several takes.

I believe that the following audition pointers that I formulated from personal audition experience, teaching thousands of students and observing actors who have auditioned at my casting sessions, will serve well your auditions for commercials (as well as TV and film):

  • As you walk into the audition, don’t think about anything you worked on. Let it all go. Be present to whatever happens.
  • Be respectful, positive and professional without losing your personality.
  • Give full attention to the person who is directing you: Don’t be distracted by anyone or anything. When you are being given direction, don’t be figuring out how to do what they are saying. Just listen and trust that you got it: otherwise, you might miss input.
  • If clarification is needed, ask questions. Questions are only irritating when they are unnecessary. Those running the session won’t think less of you because you request answers. Their input will help you to do a better audition for them.
  • While being recorded, if they talk to you or ask questions, don’t second-guess what they want to hear. They probably want to get to know you and see your personality. Just talk to them as opposed to trying to impress.
  • If the session director or CD is rude, short-tempered or seems ambivalent, do not take it personally. It may be their nature or they may be dealing with problems or previous actors who tested their patience. Stay pleasant, positive and do your work.
  • “Get centered” before starting your audition. Breathe, take one or two seconds before beginning or find your own way to “get centered” but don’t take a self-indulgent period of time to begin. Don’t be influenced by the anxiety or negative energy of those running the session.
  • Do not rush your audition. When actors are nervous or “in their head,” many speed up the dialogue or their improvised scenarios. When actors are connected and focused, they don’t rush. On the other hand, don’t speak really slowly or take long pauses between the lines.
  • Stay Focused. Whether you are auditioning for one person or a group, reading 
into a camera or speaking to an actor or a few actors, auditioning with a bad actor or a great one, in a small room or a large theatre, stay focused and don’t allow unexpected incidents to upset you and/ or put you “in your head.” No matter what happens, go with it and adjust quickly.
  • Motivate Out. For improvised and scripted on-camera scenes, when possible, find a way to “motivate out” your actions and/or dialogue at least fifty percent of the time to maximize your facial exposure.

    Most new actors constantly look at their partner(s), which keeps them in profile and they are upstaging themselves. Don’t cheat out. Learn out to “Motivate out.”

  • Look into camera. When auditioning with a reader and told to do the dialogue looking into the camera, don’t look back and forth between the two. It makes you look nervous.
  • Use the cue cards when needed. Most actors feel they will do better if they memorize the audition dialogue. That is true for many but if for one millisecond you are not sure of it, LOOK AT THE CUE CARD. It is there to help your audition. If you are convinced you know the copy and are stubborn about looking at it then you will go in your head to try to remember and will often loose the flow of your audition.
  • During the read, trust and commit to your instincts. Unless given a specific direction, don’t consciously perform anything you rehearsed. Some of the choices that you rehearsed might not feel right in that moment. Don’t interrupt your instinctive interpretation trying to perform them. Allow for your read to flow – you will most likely organically do most of what you rehearsed. When you are connected and “out of your head,” you are open to instinctive moments that are often better than those you planned.
  • Ask to do it again. When you feel your solo audition was lacking or if you have another interpretation that you would like to do, politely request, “If you have time, I would like to do it again” or “do another interpretation.” It is not a foul to ask. If they refuse, say “thank you” (mean it) and leave. It’s worth asking.

There is a lot involved in learning to do your best at commercial auditions. For additional insights and tips, check out my book Hit The Ground Running @ www.hitthegroundrunningbook.com and for more information on Commercial Acting Classes: http://carolynebarry.com/workshops/commercial/

commercial confidence

Building Confidence – A Must for Actors

Actors don’t have tangible products to sell. Each is their own product and they must believe in and have confidence their talents and themselves or there is nothing to sell. Confidence is essential for everyone but it is crucial for actors and performers. Vanity, arrogance or egotism is not confidence. They are usually facades for someone who lacks it. If you are honest with yourself, you know the difference.


Confident is just who some actors are. Others may have had support from family and friends and/or from of multiple successes. For most, the lack of confidence is an issue that needs to be worked on. Lets start by considering the value of building your confidence. I believe:
  • Experience creates confidence. The more you do anything, the more experienced and skillful you become. So the more you properly study, rehearse, audition and work, the more confident you are about your craft.
  • Confidence produces freedom. With real confidence, you do not worry about what others think or failing thus you have the freedom to be courageous and you.
  • With Freedom, your talent can shine. When actors get auditions, sign with an agent, receive good feedback or reviews, get callbacks and book jobs, etc., it helps them to feel confident. Unfortunately, these events are dependent on the acceptance of others. In that case confidence can come and go without these “wins”.

Here are my suggestions that are helpful in building your confidence:

Train with professional acting teachers.
When you honestly know that you have a solid acting training, you can believe in your craft.

Take improvisation workshops.
In professional improvisation classes, you learn to trust your instincts and commit. Once, you get over your fear of making mistakes, you experience that they are fun and that great moments come from messing up. This progression helps you to learn that no matter what happens in class or in life, you can handle it. This type of training goes a long way in building confidence.

ALWAYS BE prepared.
Whether putting up scenes in your classes, auditioning for jobs, or working as an actor, always be as prepared as possible. When you are unprepared, most will feel insecure about their work.

Acknowledge yourself for your successes.
Most of us are quick to find fault with ourselves and what we do. I strongly suggest that you ALWAYS take a few minutes to acknowledge yourself for what was accomplished or when you have done your creative best whether or not you get the job or the positive feedback you desire. This is really important for building self esteem. When you can be totally supportive of yourself, you will not be dependent on others to feel successful. And while you are at it, acknowledge others. It is great for them and reminds you to always do it for yourself.

Learn from mistakes.
We are human and we all make mistakes especially when we are moving into uncharted waters. Most learn more from their mistakes than from successes. So I suggest you look at mistakes as lessons and as gifts instead of emotionally beating yourself up when you make them.

Avoid negative, jealous, angry or bitter people.
Those we surround ourselves with affect how we feel about ourselves. As much as possible lose all the disempowering people in your life.

Have a full life:
The more fun and stimulating activities we are involved with the less pressure most actors attach to having to prove themselves.

Stay out of debt.
Too much pressure is put on booking work when actors have money problems. When your financial life is somewhat in balance, you go into auditions without the pressure of needing the money.

Enjoy your “survival” job.
If you have a job that you dislike, that can create negative feeling about yourself.

I truly believe that if you follow these suggestions to help build your confidence that it should have a powerful affect on your ability to feel good about yourself, thus do your best auditions and get acting work.

Get More Commercial Auditions

Get More Commercial Auditions

The number of actors submitted for any given commercial depends on the type or role and in what city it is being cast. If the role is that of an early twenties, wholesome, attractive all American college girl casting in Los Angeles there may be thousands of submissions. As opposed to casting a role of a 5 foot tall, mid forties man who speaks fluent Russian and can juggle – there might be a dozen, if lucky.


In minor markets, actors will mail or deliver their pictures and resume to the CD. In the major markets, most commercial jobs and more and more TV and film work are cast utilizing online websites. Basically, the way on-line casting works is:

  • actors pay a fee and join the site(s), or their agent(s) or manager supervise the posting of their client’s pictures and resumes
  • the casting website company displays the actors’ photos and resumes online CDs post their casting breakdowns on the casting website. 
 CASTING BREAKDOWN: CDs posts the descriptions of the roles they are casting (delineated by gender, age and physical type) online for for the agents, managers and/or actors to view.
  • Agents, managers will then submit their appropriate clients. And actors, when allowed can submit themselves.
  • Normally , in major markets, there will be hundreds if not thousands of actors submitted for most roles. Casting directors often have only hours to prep and set up a casting session. They will go online and scroll through screen upon screen of thumbnail photo submissions. Your pictures have to stand out, say something and look like you. The CD looks at many (not all) of the submissions to choose the actors to bring in for the audition. . I would guesstimate, depending on the role, that 90% of those submitted will not get the audition because on most days a CD sees only around 60 -100 actors per role.

    So how do commercial casting directors choose the actors to bring in for their commercial auditions? Obviously, your main photo should catch their attention. So it is very important to have a current professional photo that captures what you really look like on a good day. It is also important to have a resume that with or without strong credits is presented in a way that is impressive. And having four to six other shots posted that show your various other “looks”.

    Since pictures are so very important, obviously you must get the best and the best doesn’t usually mean the most expensive. This takes research. Check out working actors photos which you can find online casting sites or on most photographers websites. Study what it is that makes their pictures “pop” and try to use that information when you shoot and select your headshots.

    After pictures, the second most important submission tool for actors is their resume. When industry professionals look at a picture and want to know more about the actor, they view his or her resume. It needs to persuade them to bring the actor in to audition or to hire him/ her for a job. Make sure your resume is not just a list of what you have done. Your credits, training and skills needed to be presented in a way that is professional and impressive (but truthful). You can have a somewhat notable resume’ even with anemic credits when what you have accomplished is presented smartly. In my book HIT THE GROUND RUNNING, I have full chapters on getting great photos and creating impactful resume’s.

    There are too many actors who want what you want: to secure auditions and get work. Granted, you are not in competition with every other actor – just the hundreds or thousands who are your age and type. To compete for the auditions, you must have powerful headshots and impressive resumes. Get the information you need on these two subjects to produce the best results.

    There is a lot involved in learning to do your best at commercial auditions. For additional insights and tips, check out my book Hit The Ground Running @ www.hitthegroundrunningbook.com and for more information on Commercial Acting Classes: http://carolynebarry.com/workshops/commercial/

5 Reasons You Wont Book the Commercial

Why You Won’t Book the Commercial

Even when you did a great audition

I am sure you have wanted to know why or why not you do not book Commercials when you feel you have done a great audition (and even when those running the session have let you know you did a great audition). , You might get an avail or are put on “Hold” but then you don’t book the job. It can be very frustrating. Often there is no definitive reason so I believe it would be helpful for you to understand some of the business and subjective factors being considered that often have little to do with you, your talent or your audition.


Consideration that could determine why you will or won’t be cast:

  • Other Way To Go: When the commercial CD gets the breakdown and selects the actors for their session, many get creative and add actors who are “another way to go” for the role. And often, some of these actors could change the direction of the casting.
    Role is cut or changed: When watching the casting, the director and/or advertising executives might determine that a part is not working and then could cut it out, replace it with another role or choose to go with a different type of actor.
  • Matching: When casting a spot with multiple actors, the matching or pairings need to look like they could be couples, friends, workers or a family. And yet in a group of friends, office employees, neighbors, etc., it is preferred those cast be of different ethnicities, physical types or hair color- because many commercials need to appeal to various groups of people.
  • Identifiable and Aspirational: Commercials need to appeal to target markets. The actors cast in the spot must be people that those the spot is designed for will find aspirational or will identify with. And thus is a major factor in the casting. This is why casting specs are pretty specific as to age, gender, ethnicity and physical types. Then, because these considerations are often subjective, each group of people doing the casting and various target markets could create diverse factors that would make different actors identifiable and/or aspirational for various products.
  • Chemistry: When matching couples, families, friends, workers, etc., they need to work well together and have a chemistry that creates the feeling that they belong together. And it is something that is there or it is not and it too is subjective.
  • Compromise: Those doing the casting are not always in agreement on who they like in a role. In that case, so that no one looks bad, they may choose another actor (who might not be as good or as right). It happens.
  • Personal Preference: Directors and advertising execs are human and have preferences. Sometimes actors might remind one of someone they like or don’t like or another actor that may be too recognizable. Casting preferences can work for an actor or against them.

Knowing these factors should help you understand that when you believe you have done a great audition why you may not book the job. I know it is frustrating and seems unfair but realize that these same factors that might work against you for one job might work in your favor for others. And in order for you not to take it personal and to protect your confidence, I suggest that you remember this, “You didn’t lose the commercial, someone else booked it” – this time.

video_Who_Books_Commercials

Who Books Commercials and Why?

Once you have done your callback and leave that is when the director, agency execs, producer and maybe someone representing the client start the process of selecting who will book the job – whether they are in the room or via a video feed. I am sure you have wondered how the final selection is made: what is considered, the politics, who has the decision making power and what happens during those few days you are waiting to see if you booked the job.

Doing great auditions, unfortunately, doesn’t always get you cast. Actors often get and don’t get jobs for reasons that have nothing to do with their talent or audition technique. The powers that be, who usually have different opinions on the best actor for the role, have to agree. The final decision maker depends on the job and the “clout” of either the director, agency execs, producer and maybe someone representing the client.

These decision-makers will compare notes, examine pictures and resumes and review the video auditions then the discussions and often compromises go on for a few minutes or hours. They choose their top recommendations and present these “selects” on video to the client and the other decision-makers who were not present at the callback for the final approval. This can take a few hours, days or sometimes weeks.

The agents of the actors that are being strongly considered are informed to put their actors on “Hold” or “Strong Avail” for the shoot date(s). This means that the actors need to hold those dates to shoot the commercial. It also means that if the actor is offered another job for the date(s), his/her agent must inform the producer and the decision-makers must choose to hire that actor or let them take the other job. Once the final choice is made, the actor’s agent is informed and the actor is booked. Those who were on “Hold” or “Strong Avail” and were not book are usually (but not always) are informed and released.

Most of the time, the actors auditioning for a specific role fit a designated physical description; they are all the same age-range, ethnicity, gender, type, and build. Yet those getting the callback and booking have the look (along with the personality, essence and talent) that resonated stronger for the occupation/role being cast. It is a subjective decision of those doing the casting.

To demonstrate how this might work, the next time you are in a group of people whom you don’t know, play this game. Pretend you are casting roles in a commercial or film from the people you see. Cast the following characters:

  • Members of a wedding party: Who would be the bride or groom, maid/matron of honor, best man, members of the wedding party, various family members, eccentric relatives, photographer, caterer, wedding planner, etc.?
  • People in a business office: Who looks like they could be the boss, bookkeeper, human resources person, assistant, executive, computer technician, secretary, “creatives,” errand boy or girl, receptionist, etc.?
  • Those in a suburban neighborhood: Who looks like members of
the family who has lived there the longest, those new to the block, busybodies, problem neighbors, those on the welcoming committee, fast-food-delivery people, mail carrier, gardener, etc? Also, who could be the residents who have all the right products (sold in commercials) and those who don’t have them? 
You will see that most people physically fit a role or two in each scenario. Play along with a friend and compare how similarly you cast these strangers. Whether you know it or not, you have been conditioned by the media to see distinct physical types of people playing specific kinds of roles. This exercise will give you an insight into casting. Actors want to perform a range of parts, but those who are identifiable types are often more “castable” in commercials.

Many new actors resist the idea of being a type. They feel it is limiting to their talent. I believe it is necessary in order to start getting work. Knowing your type is not a limitation. It is a distinction that gives you parameters within which to play. There is only one of you and if you are a good actor, you can do all kinds of roles that are you.

For additional insights and tips, check out my book Hit The Ground Running @ www.hitthegroundrunningbook.com and for Commercial Acting Classes: http://carolynebarry.com/workshops/commercial/

Commercial Improv

Improvisation Training: Vital to an Actor’s Career

When actors interview with me before taking my commercial class, I always suggest that they the take a workshop either before, during or immediately after they take a commercial class. Improv will help actors to get more Commercial auditions and is a major factor in doing better auditions and, I believe, is crucial to a commercial actor’s career.


As a commercial actress, I have booked over 400 national commercials and I truly believe that I got many of those jobs because of my Improvisation training. When I first started doing commercials there were no actual commercial audition training workshops so I studied acting and then started doing Improvisation classes – which I loved. I quickly saw that the freedom and confidence I was getting from the Improv work was helping me do better at my auditions and thus I started booking even more jobs.

Granted that era was not anywhere as competitive as it is now but I do know that Improvisation training is even more beneficial and vital today then it ever was then for several reasons:

First of all, so many auditions today do not have dialogue and require Improv skills therefore commercial agents are more interested in actors (especially new actors) who have professionally studied improvisation because agents know that it will be easier to them auditions.

There are more non-scripted commercials being cast then ever before so casting directors usually want actors who are good with improv. Legally SAG/AFTRA does not allow actors to Improvise dialogue at their auditions so actors will probably never be technically asked to “improvise” but in actuality that is what they will be doing – verbally creating their own dialogue and/or scenarios. AND those who study Improv usually do so much better at those auditions.

There are more non-scripted commercials being cast then ever before so casting directors usually want actors who are good with improv. Legally SAG/AFTRA does not allow actors to Improvise dialogue at their auditions so actors will probably never be technically asked to “improvise” but in actuality that is what they will be doing – verbally creating their own dialogue and/or scenarios. AND those who study Improv usually do so much better at those auditions.

Find a teacher or institution that specializes in Improvisation. A lot of studios mix in the Improv training with acting, commercial and cold reading. This is not really offering the maximum value of studying Improvisation. Then, some teachers offer it as an on-going class. There are several problems with this format.

I strongly believe that Improvisation should be a second training workshop along with your acting class. Your acting training is focused on the techniques specific to whatever discipline of training you choose – motivation, emotional connection, subtext, character life, pre-life and after-life, etc. Whereas good improvisation training focuses on creativity, commitment, listening, trusting instincts, supporting the other actor and building confidence. When both acting and Improv are studied at the same time, you will get more out of your acting class and you will be ready to start auditioning sooner.

At the start of the Improv classes that I offer in my program, actors talk about how nervous they are about taking an Improv class. Most are concerned that they are not funny, or creative or instinctive. A good improv class does not push you to be funny and when you are “in the moment”, not thinking or planning and being instinctive , most actors find that they are creative and often funny. Improv is about freedom and it is a process that is achieved in a safe space with a really good teacher who creates a supportive NOT a competitive environment. Don’t we all want that feeling of freedom in our acting as well as our life.

COMMERCIAL BOOKING SECRETS

Ever wonder how they choose the actors they book on television commercials? Is there some secret determining factors that influence the casting decisions? There is -and I think it is important to for you to know what it is. From years of being a working commercial actress and booking over 400 commercials, having done the casting for over a thousand TV commercials and being a commercial audition teacher since 1983, I strongly believe that there is a formula for why actors get commercial callbacks and bookings. I know it isn’t carved in stone or even the exact way the director, ad execs and clients would verbalize but I REALLY believe that this is basically the formula.

60 percent of why actors get callbacks is their physicality – what they look like. Since those chosen must represent the client’s target market and must be a strong physical representation of the character they are portraying.

20 percent of why actors get callbacks is their talent and creativity – what they actually do on the audition whether it is an improvisation or a scripted monologue or a scene. The decision-makers look for actors who are believable, unique and/or their work

The remaining 20% factor, is the actor’s confidence, personality and essence which usually needs to match up to the actor’s look. This is the factor that most actors don’t consider and often don’t understand.

Now, let’s say the actor is a great physical type for a particular commercial and does a great audition but he/she comes off arrogant or too silly then he/she will probably not get a callback.

Or if he/she is really approachable and likeable (which is important for most commercials) and is the perfect type but overacts on their auditions (which happens way too often) then again, he/she will not get a callback.

Now when it comes to getting the booking, the numbers change a little, since there is some agreement between the ad execs and the director on the looks of those being called back, the importance of the actor’s physicality is still important but now since it is still subjective, it is about 30%.

What also is relevant in the “looks” area is when it is necessary to match actors with spouses, friends, workers or family.- the consideration becomes, Do they look like they belong together. What the actor does in their audition, how they take direction, their creativity and talent now becomes the prominent factor at 40%..

The actor’s attitude, personality and essence factors comes in at 20%..

And finishing up the BOOKING equation are wildcard factors: it could be anything from the actor’s wardrobe (which one of the decision-makers really likes for the spot) to any of the execs or director having subjective preferences or dislikes. There are too many subjective wild card factors to cover here but I am sure you can imagine some.

This information should help you to not take it personal or think you did a bad job when you don’t get a callback or booking. And it should help you have the insights you need to put the odds in your favor for booking commercials. And by the way a lot of this is also applicable for booking smaller roles in film and TV.

Commercials: solo dialogue

Audition Tips for TV Commercials – Solo Dialogue to the Camera

A challenge with monologue dialogue commercials auditions is how to truthfully start speaking. With 10, 20 or 25-second copy, there is no time to work into it. You must be connected at the beginning otherwise those viewing your audition may lose interest and fast forward to the next actor. I believe that when you use a “who” and a short pre- life you will get an immediate connection to the dialogue.


Who: The person you have chosen to relate to with the copy. The selected “who” is one you believe that you can connect to best with a particular piece.

Pre-lIfe: the thoughts, feelings and/or action that the actor thinks, feels or does that precede and motivate the scripted dialogue or the physical action.

Both these tools are major acting and audition assets for scenario and scripted commercials as well as theatre, film and television work.

THE WHO
The “who” is primarily important for auditions when you are doing monologue copy to the camera, – not so much when you are auditioning with other actors. You might be thinking how can I speak to someone when there is no one there. Well, what about when you are talking on the phone? There is no one to see but you are totally involved in the conversation. And with practice, you can have that same connection with your “who” when looking into a camera.

I believe that people have a different energy, connection, tone and verbal delivery when talking to the various people in their life. For example I have a different relationship thus a different way I speak to my students than I do to my family or a loved one – also different than when I talk to someone I work for than I do with a funny friend. This is probably true for you.

Understanding this can help when you select the most beneficial “who” to speak to when preparing your audition material. Allow each piece of commercial copy to suggest a meaningful person for you to relate to.

PRE-LIFE
In order to create an honest “pre-life” during your audition prep you must first DETERMINE YOUR “WHO.” Next, decide what that person said to MOTIVATE YOUR FIRST LINE. It is helpful to hear a short question. It is not only thing you can hear but it works best most of time. If you choose to see something, respond to it by having a thought or two. The pre-life happens quickly and should take one or two seconds (no more).

Now that you
Know who you are talking to,
Know what you have heard or seen,
Once you hear the words in your mind
Honestly react to it with a simple, physical, UNREHEARSED reaction.
Allow this reaction to motivate the first line.

The key to an effective pre-life is the simple physical UNREHEARSED reaction during which you might utter a little sound. If it is an honest reaction it will be different every time. When you are preparing, each time that you do a run through, allow for the “pre-life” reaction to be instinctive and different – not the same unless it organically happens. Trust, never question, your instincts while auditioning. Committing to them helps keep you “out of your head.” Don’t be concerned with how you are doing.

Auditioning using a “who” and “pre-life” should result in more callbacks and bookings. It also reinforces the craft, which assists actors in becoming better actors.

If you missed previous craft and audition technique articles and videos you will find them in the archive on my COMMERCIAL page on mastertalentteachers.com.

There is a lot involved in learning to do your best at commercial auditions. For additional insights and tips, check out my book Hit The Ground Running @ www.hitthegroundrunningbook.com and for more information on Commercial Acting Classes: http://carolynebarry.com/workshops/commercial/

Look Before You Leap into Commercial Auditions

Look Before You Leap Into Commercial Auditions

When I interview people before taking my classes, so many tell me that they have been told to start their acting careers by training for commercials. I would like to silence all those who are perpetuating this disempowering misconception. They are destroying acting careers before they even start. But I do understand that when most people look at actors in commercials, it looks so easy. It is no wonder that many think that it is a way to break into acting, be seen and make lots of money. Yes, it is fun, creative and can be lucrative. Most working commercial actors can make it look easy because most are pros. As you will discover, there is a lot to do, learn and know before starting to audition well and book commercials.

WHEN TO START: I strongly believe that you should study acting for a year or so and Improvization for a good six months (at the least) before doing a commercial class. Then you will be more prepared to go get a commercial agent and start auditioning – hopefully, while you continue to professionally train consistently. I believe that when people start auditioning too early, it often creates major problems with craft and confidence. And when those actors do less than stellar auditions, there is a good chance the casting directors they audition for will choose not to see them again, even in the future after they train and improve.

Although, I do have lots of students with little or no training take my beginning commercial workshop. And, I also have agents send me total beginners (who are great commercial types) to learn enough basics to be competent at their auditions. AND after the class, many of these rooky actors who are good commercial types and/or have strong performance talents or skills, do book some work. On the other hand, from years of experience, I am convinced that those who want to book lots more work, plan to have an acting career and want to feel secure about their craft need to prepare and train first before jumping into the commercial arena.

MISCONCEPTIONS and CHALLENGES: Many feel they don’t need to study acting first or that after they book a few commercials, they will use that money to study – I truly believe that thinking is ass backwards. Don’t be fooled, this is a commitment and requires more than you know. Before pursuing any venture, you really need to understand what is involved, Here are just a few of the issues rookies as well as trained actors should know about before auditioning for commercials:

  • GETTING AN AGENT: Getting a good agent can be challenging. Agents are inundated daily with dozens of pictures and resumes of actors who want commercial representation.
  • COSTS: Between training, commercial wardrobe, photos, a website, reproductions, casting sites and mailings, it can get expensive. Plus, by working a job that gives you the flexibility you need to audition, your income usually will not be as good as if you had a full time job.
  • TIME CONSUMING: Depending on the location of the casting facility, each audition will normally take on the average of 2 ½ to 4 hours, to travel back and forth, park, prepare, wait and do your five minute audition. And often but not always, actors go out on dozens of audition before booking one.
  • HIGHLY COMPETITIVE: Getting auditions is very competitive. There are hundreds to thousands of actors submitted for every role. Only 80 to100 are seen each day per role. So you have normally a 10 -15% chance of getting an audition when submitted.
  • MONEY EARNED: The money that most new actors think they will earn form booking a commercial is not always the case. It depends on many factors whether the commercial is: union, non-union, local, regional, national, international, one spot or multiple spots, the number of actors, on-camera or voice-over, buy-out and/or residuals. Actors can earn anywhere from a few hundred to (in rare cases) a few hundred thousand dollars doing a commercial.

My main intention in laying out these misconceptions and challenges is not to discourage you from pursuing commercial work but to help you avoid the pitfalls that can make it difficult to make a good start. There are many more misconceptions and challenges you should be acquainted with before jumping into beginning your commercial acting endeavor, do watch my Look Before You Leap Into Commercial video.

For additional insights and tips, check out my book Hit The Ground Running @ www.hitthegroundrunningbook.com