How does one book TV Commercials? Well, you’ve got to start with training and become a good actor! Master Talent Teacher Carolyne Barry has compiled this video to help take you through the process.
Suzanne Lyons discusses the importance of networking and offers great information on creating relationships within the Entertainment Industry.
Every weekend Agents and Managers are traveling to some city scouting for new kids and teens for pilot season. The top kids Agents will look at from 100 to 300 kids every week from now through the end of January. These are the brightest kids from around the country with parents who can afford expensive weekend jaunts to L.A. They are ready to come to Hollywood for early Pilot Season, meaning October, November and December. The green lighted projects begin casting these pilots early because they want the best actors – first! Every single top kids Agent and Manager will meet wonderful, cute kids with parents who will do what it takes to make it in Hollywood! The competition is fierce, so what can you do if you are not able to travel to Hollywood? Or, what can you do to compete with the kids and teens coming in if you are already an L.A. actor?
What can you do to help your child or teen compete?
- Encourage your child to build skills on a regular basis by staying in acting classes and private coaching. On-going training is the foundation for a successful Acting career. It essential to be on top of your game so you are ready to shine when you get those big auditions.
- Make sure your child is known to as many casting offices as possible by bringing your child to our Casting Director workshops to develop relationships with casting directors. This also includes sending postcards and booking announcements. Make sure Casting Directors know you are in the game! Developing and nurturing relationships with Casting Directors is vital for success in this industry.
- With early pilot season here and your Agent has over 1000 kids to represent; it is up to you to make sure that you don’t let them forget your child. It is vital to take proactive action by keeping your child on the top of the Agents list. This does not mean that you bombard your representation with unnecessary calls and emails; but keep in touch with them. If there’s a part that you feel you are right for, make sure they are sending you out for it. Don’t get lost in the shuffle.
- Surround yourself with a strong team! This includes your reps, coaches, and family. Without a strong team, you are a lone ranger and not the professional team player it takes to succeed.
There are dozens of audition technique tips I have given in previous articles and can be found on my partner page on Master TalentTeachers.com that would be really beneficial but right now the most valuable information I can offer to help you to do your best callbacks is offer some insights on Commercial Callback Anxiety.
Commercial auditions can be challenging for actors but callbacks are a cause of anxiety for most. The pressure is on because the decisions-makers are in the room, you know that everything little thing you do is being carefully judged, changes of direction are sometimes made at the last minute giving actors very little time to be secure with the adjustments, the money that you can make if you booked the commercial is often needed, and because it is a callback, the pressure you put on yourself to do well can be problematic.
Every audition especially callbacks are 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, such as:
Did I wear the right outfit? Maybe I should have done something different with my hair. Did I work on the material enough? I hope they don’t notice that my skin is broken out. How many people will I be auditioning for? Who are they? Will they direct me before I read? What will they ask me? What should I ask them? Will they think I am physically right for the role? I wonder if the reader is going to be any good? I haven’t seen this CD for a few months – maybe she doesn’t like my work. How will I do? Will they re-direct my reading? Am I right for the role? What will they think about my audition?
Many of these thoughts flash quickly through almost every actor’s mind and especially those who are new. These are the same types of concerns that people usually have interviewing for any job. At callbacks, because the stakes are raised, the concerns get more intense for most. Actors who are unfazed at the initial audition often have callback anxiety. Now, the thoughts are
They must like me; now the pressure is really on. It’s only betweena few others and me; I have to be great. Will my agent (or manager) dump me if I don’t book this job? What did I do that made them call me back? I really need the money. My competition must be good. I hope I don’t “blow it” now. And so on.
This “brain-noise” is normal. How you deal with your questions, concerns and expectations will determine how much power those thoughts have. You must learn how to alleviate, use or quiet them, or they will take their toll on your work. I know great actors who can’t get out of their heads at interviews (and refuse to do anything about it), and their work suffers. I also know less talented ones who shine because they have very little “noise” and are excited to be auditioning.
What you think influences how you feel, and how you feel impacts your audition. With time and experience, actors usually figure out how to alleviate the self-imposed stress. In the meantime, work on your audition anxieties whether it is with self-help books, hypnosis, audition classes, coaching, therapy, talking with friends or teachers and/or developing a sense of humor about your disempowering thoughts – the sooner the better.
SUGGESTION: What you think produces feelings. The feelings are real but the thoughts you created are not real. So be careful what you are saying to yourself.
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/
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.
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.
By Diane Christiansen
Success = Preparation + Opportunity
I learned this equation as a kid, and it is still the most valuable math lesson I have ever been taught. Success is not a fluke. It is the result of countless hours spent in preparation for the opportunity of a lifetime. We must prepare for success in order to seize it. A big part of preparing to succeed is putting in place the people and the infrastructure to keep your enterprise afloat. Even before your career is fully off the ground, you need to assemble the team that is best-suited to take you to the top. Some people make the mistake of waiting for opportunity to arrive before seeking out support. Surely you’ve heard the horror stories of successful individuals who somehow lost it all and later discovered the people they called friends were taking them for everything they had. Support is easy to obtain after the fact, that is, after you have attained success. Just ask MC Hammer. But the people you want to have on your team are those who truly believe in you, so much so that they are willing to accompany you on your journey to greatness, starting at the ground floor. In essence, they are investing in your future. They give their time and energy to help you fulfill your potential, and only when you succeed with their support will they get a return on their investment.
So let’s talk about who you need to your team.
- * Devil’s Advocate – The much-needed opposite of a “Yes Man,” this is the person who you can always count on to give it to you straight. Since straight-talk can hurt feelings, this person needs to be someone you trust implicitly and who has weathered a few storms with you. When everyone else is telling you to go right, your devil’s advocate will help you consider the possibility of going left. Ultimately, the decision is yours, but at least it will be an informed one.
- * Cheerleader – Whether you didn’t land the role you wanted or you don’t like your new headshots, this is the person who will always help you find the silver lining in a bad situation. Your cheerleader is not there to enable delusion, but rather to help you maintain perspective. Especially in this industry, you’re going to need a reality check to keep you grounded in what matters and to avoid losing yourself in what casting thinks of you.
- * An Agent – Obviously, right? But not just any agent will do. You and your agent need to be on the same page about the direction of your career. If you see yourself as an ingénue and your agent is submitting you for villains, then there’s a mismatch. Of course, one school of thought might encourage you to take whatever you can get. But how committed will you be to landing roles you don’t see yourself playing? Remember that you and your agent are in a partnership. Therefore, it’s best to find an agent that understands your niche and can find you the roles that allow you to shine.
- * Mentor – You need to have a person on your team who has walked the path you’re traveling and can alert you to potential pitfalls ahead. A good mentor will be a sounding board for the ideas you have about your career, never telling you what to do, but serving as a fountain of knowledge and experience to help you make the best decision for you. Whether by directly advising you with tips to improve your odds of success, or indirectly by connecting you to others in the industry with a good referral, your mentor can be an invaluable resource.
- * Hollywood Outsider – We’ve all heard of those folks who “go Hollywood,” and it never seems to be a good a thing. Having someone in your circle who could care less about who’s who in Hollywood will remind you that there is life outside of acting. So whenever you need to get away for a minute, your Hollywood Outsider can give you the balance you need to refill your tank from the depletion of Hollywood.