A challenge with monologue or solo 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. Read more
Commercial Audition Training – Lots to Learn
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 Improvisation 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
In major markets, there are hundreds of agents. Attaining legitimate representation for commercials is usually rather involved so it important to choose the agents you wish to target and research them:
- In major markets buy updated books that list and describe agents and managers (In Los Angeles, these books are sold at Samuel French and New York at the Drama Book
- Obtain a list of franchised agents from SAG.
Ask industry pros you know as well as your friends, teachers, relatives, and classmates the following about agents:
- Whom do they recommend or have heard about with great reputations and who should be avoided?
- What is the best way to contact them?
- Is there anyone they know who could help get more information or has an “in”?
- If you belong to a networking group, check with their members and their records.
- Go to the websites of those you are considering and read about the company history and the agents.
- Once you have a short list, check your choices with the Better Business Bureau. Find out if they have had claims filed against them.
There are agents who are not SAG-franchised. That does not mean they are not reputable. Those who are members are just easier to check out and are accountable to a supervising entity.
SUBMIT TO COMMERCIAL AGENTS
The size and status of the office you should realistically approach is determined by where you are in your career. When starting, you will find that the small and medium-sized offices are often more receptive to meeting new talent but if you do have an “in” at a major agency or just want to try to get with one, definitely pursue it. If your timing, talent and type are right, you could get lucky. Now that you know the reputable agents you wish to pursue, submit a picture, resume’ and cover letter.
Don’t mail to one at a time and wait for them to contact you. It is also a waste of money to do a mass mailing to every agent in town. I suggest mailing to a select fifteen or twenty. Agents are bombarded with actors soliciting them. You might hear from some within a few weeks. If you don’t get any responses, submit to your second choices. Agents and managers will call you for a meeting if they are interested in what they see in your submission. If you have industry contacts, teachers or friends who can recommend you to your desired agent(s) I propose you ask your contact if they would advise the agent to expect your submission. If you get minimal or no response after the second round of submissions, shoot new photos, redo your resume and cover letter and then, in a few months, submit again to your first then second choices. Client rosters often change, making room for an actor who was of no interest just a few weeks earlier.
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/
By: Carolyne Barry
You get a commercial callback. Ten to twenty-five actors up for the same role as you. You do a great job and don’t get booked or you do a “so-so” job and you get the commercial. Rather confusing, right? You have to ask yourself what is going on in the minds of those making the decisions. How are they judging the actors and their auditions? Who gets booked – is it luck?Wonder what are the casting factors that are the determinants?
Based on all my experience as an actress, casting director and teacher, I do believe there is a casting formula utilized when booking actors for commercials. It is only my educated opinion but I REALLY believe that this is basically the formula and value percentages.
THE 4 MAIN FACTORS THAT DETERMINE WHAT GETS ACTORS BOOKED.
30 % – What You Look Like –
Since there is some agreement between the ad execs and the director on the “aspirational” and/or “inspirational” 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, especially at the callback, is when it is necessary to match actors with spouses, friends, workers or family.- Do they look like they belong together.
40 % – Talent and Creativity
What the actor does in their audition, how they take direction, their creativity and talent now becomes the prominent factor.
20 % – Attitude, Personality and Essence
Those behind the table at callbacks, are watching everything you do from when you walk in the room until you walk out. How you take direction, what questions you might ask and how you relate to the director and others actors you might be auditioning with. Those decision-makers are checking to see if your personality and essence is right for the role and ALSO if there are any reasons why you would be difficult to work with.
10 % – Wildcard Factors
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. I’ve heard so many wildcard reasons, i.e. one of the clients, not choosing an actress that everyone else wanted because she reminded him of his ex-wife. Another one is an actor shaking hands with the director and his hands are sweaty which makes the director uncomfortable, There are too many subjective wild card factors to cover here but I am sure you can imagine others.
In review , this is my understanding of the primary considerations when making booking decisions. 30% looks, 40% talent, creativity and how well the actor takes direction, 20% Attitude, personality and essence and 10% Wildcard factors.
These considerations are just parts of the casting equation and are all considered. Know that: if an actor is a great physical type for a particular spot and does a great audition but he/she comes off arrogant or too silly then he/she will probably not get the job. Or if he/she is really has a great personality and essence and is the perfect type but does not do a good job with the material or scenario then again, he/she will probably not get booked.
This information should help you to not take it personal or think you did a bad job when you don’t get a 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.
by: Carolyne Barry
One of the more challenging realities of becoming an actor is that it can and will get expensive. The cost of classes, pictures, marketing, demo reels, scripts, theater company dues and union initiation fees and dues, showcases, etc. etc., etc. adds up big time. Even participating in graduate films and small theater will necessitate spending some money on wardrobe, make-up, and props not to mention gas and parking fees.
The sobering news is that almost any other profession you choose will probably cost you much more, however, with most other professions you would have a somewhat better chance of earning a steady income, -unless you are in the 5% who can make acting a career. When embarking on other professions, you would have a good idea of all the necessary expenses for your training, start up business costs and the money you would need to get you through the first few years.
Unfortunately, most new actors don’t stop to consider all the costs involved with the necessary training and marketing or have a plan to finance their career. Often that means major obstacles are in place before they even get started. Some get lucky and fall into situations and opportunities that help make it easier. Some have rich families or influential friends.
Nevertheless, new actors must “get real” and go into this business as if it were a business. (It is easier to get lucky when you are knowledgeable and have a plan). I STRONGLY suggest that you put together a financial structure.
For more detailed info on Spending, Saving and Earning money for your acting and performing career, check into my book HitTheGroundRunning.
By: Carolyne Barry
One of the more challenging realities of becoming an actor is that it can and will get expensive. The cost of classes, pictures, marketing, demo reels, scripts, theater company dues and union initiation fees and dues, showcases, etc. etc., etc. adds up big time. Even participating in graduate films and small theater will necessitate spending some money on wardrobe, make-up, and props not to mention gas and parking fees. The sobering news is that almost any other profession you choose will probably cost you much more, however, with most other professions you would have a somewhat better chance of earning a steady income, -unless you are in the 5% who can make acting a career. When embarking on other professions, you would have a good idea of all the necessary expenses for your training, start up business costs and the money you would need to get you through the first few years. Unfortunately, most new actors don’t stop to consider all the costs involved with the necessary training and marketing or have a plan to finance their career. Often that means major obstacles are in place before they even get started. Some get lucky and fall into situations and opportunities that help make it easier. Some have rich families or influential friends. Nevertheless, new actors must “get real” and go into this business as if it were a business. (It is easier to get lucky when you are knowledgeable and have a plan). I STRONGLY suggest that you put together a financial structure.
For more detailed info on Spending, Saving and Earning money for your acting and performing career, check into my book HitTheGroundRunning.
You have submitted your photo, resume and a succinct and engaging cover letter to several commercials agents and you have interest from one or more who have set-up meetings. Now what? How do you prepare for your commercial agent meeting so you will have a great interview?
Before the meeting, research the agency so you will be able to knowledgeably talk to the agents. For the meeting:
- Be on time (even though you will probably have to wait)
- Dress and groom yourself appropriately for who you are and to meet a person(s) who can help with your career
- Bring additional pictures and a reel of your acting work (if you have one)
- Bring a list of your commercial industry contacts (if any)
- Be prepared to read commercial copy (some agents do readings, some don’t)
- Be in an authentically positive mood
- Ask questions that will help you determine if that agency would be the right one for you.
It is important to remember that you will be interviewing the agents as well. So many actors are happy to have the meeting that in an effort to be signed they are often afraid to let their true personality show and are hesitant to ask questions.
During your meeting, agents will be evaluating you to determine if you are a fit for their agency. They will look at many things: physicality, personality, type, essence, age, credits, professionalism, talent (if they have seen you in a class or production, have auditioned you in their office or have viewed your reel) and if they need and/or want your type for their rooster. Bottom line, you are a product to them. This is a subjective business. Each agent will choose clients based on his or her criteria, taste and needs.
YOU HAVE A CHOICE
There are many commercial agents, smaller theatrical agencies and managers who sign actors based primarily on type, a look and/or personality. Talent is not their main focus. Do you want representation that submits just your look or one that represents you and your talent? I suggest that you encourage your potential representation to see you act. If they don’t do auditions and there is no professional work to view, consider shooting some quality video of yourself doing two or three short commercials and/or short scenes. (If you do create your own reel, make sure it is edited together and does not run more than three minutes.)
It is important for whomever you go with to know your work in order to best represent you. If you are anxious to get a “start-up” agent or acting is a hobby, the distinction of them wanting your type as opposed to you and your talent may not be important. If you have choices or can be patient, then signing with someone who appreciates your talent is better for your career. Being an actor whether for theatre, TV and Film or commercials is a business. In order to be a success, you need to train, market, promote and select representation that gets what makes you special, guides you and creates opportunities to book work.
To be prepared, check out my FREE video, MEETING with COMMERCIAL AGENTS at mastertalentteachers.com in which three top Los Angeles Agents talk about what they look for in their meetings with prospective clients.
If you missed the first article in this series covering HOW TO SUBMIT TO AGENTS, you will find it and the accompanying video in the archive on my COMMERCIAL page at mastertalentteachers.com. In my next article, I cover how to create a successful relationship with your agent and thus get the necessary opportunities to audition for and book television commercials. Don’t’ miss it.
For more information on Commercial Acting Classes: http://carolynebarry.com/workshops/commercial/