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.
The Audition Room
Inside the Audition Room is where all your training as an actor and your preparation come together so that you can do your best and hopefully book the job – OR NOT.
What the heck happens in there that often inhibits us from doing our best? The following audition pointers were formulated from personal audition experience, teaching thousands of students and observing actors who have auditioned at my casting sessions. I truly believe these tips will serve 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 otherwise, you might miss information.
- • If clarification is needed, ask questions. Questions are only irritating when they are unnecessary. Their answers will help you to do a better audition for them.
- • If they talk to you or ask questions, don’t second-guess what they want to hear. Just talk to them as opposed to trying to impress.
- • If the session director or CD is rude, short-tempered, rushed or seems ambivalent, do not take it personally. Remember, when “the powers that be” watch your video audition, they will only see you, not the irritating session director.
- • Don’t allow yourself to be rushed. Before you start your audition, “get centered.”
- * Breathe, take one or two seconds before beginning or find your own way to “get centered”.
- • Do not speed through your audition. On the other hand, don’t speak really slowly or take long pauses between the lines.
- • 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 toward camera. In on-camera improvised and scripted scene auditions, when possible, find a way to “motivate out” your face, actions and/or dialogue at least fifty percent of the time to maximize your facial exposure.
- • 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.
- • During the read, trust and commit to your instincts. Unless given a specific direction, don’t consciously perform anything you rehearsed or that you have learned. Don’t interrupt your instinctive interpretation trying to perform rehearsed choice. Allow for your read to flow – you will most likely organically do most of what you rehearsed.
- • Have fun. Getting auditions is what you have trained and worked for – now enjoy the experience.
- • 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.” If they refuse, say “thank you (mean it) and leave. They may have loved what you did and don’t need or have time for a second version.
- • Don’t ask “needy” questions, e.g., “When are the callbacks or bookings? Should I wear this outfit if I get a callback? Should I keep the script?” Needy inquiries make actors look insecure.
- •Don’t be overly grateful or acknowledging. A simple “thank you” or “it was a pleasure reading for you” is sufficient. Much more might make you look desperate.
- • Unless they insist you leave the audition material, take it. Build a library of sides, copy and scripts that you can use for practice.
- • Let it go. When you finish the audition, those in charge will say “great” or “thank you,” which is your signal to leave. Just do your best, and when you leave, let it go.
Who is there in THAT audition room to help direct actors? Your guide, the person who can help you do your best audition is the Session Director. Watch my video featuring two top session directors and you will learn their insider “do’s” and “don’ts”.
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/
By Master Teacher ~ Diane Christiansen
The career of acting is a tightrope. In order to stay on your toes you have to strike a good balance between cultivating your technique through training and unveiling the fruits of your labor through showcasing. Maintaining this balance means continually pushing beyond your comfort zone. Because acting can be such a masochistic profession, the temptation to get into a comfortable routine is strong. After all, it’s scary to try a new technique when you’ve found a method that works. It’s also scary to audition for the role of a lifetime when rejection is so common in this business. In short, it’s scary to take risks, especially with your career. But you’re an actor aren’t you? Yeah you are! And acting isn’t for the fearful. You’ve got to get on that tightrope and do back flips like there’s no tomorrow! So balance is essential in order to avoid falling flat on your face. Now that we’ve beaten that metaphor into the ground, let’s examine what the unbalanced actor might look like in real life. On the one hand, there is the “seasoned” actor. Perhaps he attended a prestigious drama school, on scholarship, no less. After years in a demanding training program grooming him for greatness and divesting him of his blood, sweat, tears, and likely his pride, he may feel that he has already learned everything he needs to know. The answers he seeks are already locked inside him and he needs only to apply the knowledge he has gained from his prior training to whatever the role at hand. He is self-contained and self-led. Therefore, if he is lost, it is only an indication that he must dig deeper within himself. On the other hand, there is the “novice” actor. Perhaps she decided to pursue acting later in life. After a bland career in the professional world, she yearned to finally follow her passion, her dream deferred. So she began taking acting studio classes at every opportunity in a frantic effort to catch up. Because of her late start, she has continually felt as though she’s behind her counterparts and consequently she’s never felt quite ready to take off the training wheels. She cannot go to an audition without being “coached.” Or worse, she cannot go to an audition at all out of a perpetual fear of not being ready. Believe it or not, both of these actor types are crucially unbalanced. They are both in a rut because neither of them is pushing themselves beyond what is comfortable. But success and complacency do not go together. Actors must balance training and showcasing because doing so keeps us active, continually growing and striving. Training is how we grow in our craft to become better actors, no matter how seasoned we are. Showcasing is how we strive to seize new career opportunities, create valuable relationships with Casting and maybe even happen upon unexpected accolades for our work. One without the other leaves the actor incomplete, lop-sided, off kilter, and off his/her game. In an industry as competitive as this one, we cannot afford to miss opportunities whether due to lack of preparation in training or lack of confidence in showcasing. And so, the actor must maintain balance. To resume our earlier metaphor, we must fearlessly navigate the tightrope that is our acting career, and allow our preparation to meet the opportunity that results in our success.
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.
By Diane Christiansen
Finding your “niche” or your “brand” or your “type” seems to be daunting for most actors, including kids and teens. Yet it really can be a fun process. Possibly the reason for any difficulty is because actors have this idea that they can play anything. However, Agents and Managers have to market you, to them you are a commodity. Our intention is to make it easy for them to do.
Here is a great exercise that we do in our classes to help you know how to market yourself before you showcase your work and/or interview with Agents and Managers.
You can do this with any group of 5 or 6 people. Try this; have 5 or 6 people watch you walk into the room, the more objective they are, the better. Ask each one of them to tell you what kind of role you look like you can play. Each of us carries ourselves a certain way, and each of us give off a certain “vibe”. They are going to say things like “The Jock, the Nerd, the Cheerleader, the boy next door, the Prom Queen, the smarty girl, the Best friend, the leading lady, the Social Worker, the Cop, the Detective, the Urban Professional, a Gang member, the Politician, the Doctor, the Lawyer, the blue collar worker, and on and on. Once you’ve collected those five or six ideas, you should be on track with your obvious “Type.”
At that point, you can package yourself that way to Reps and if they are seeking that type, bingo! You’ve hit the mark. I know you don’t want to be type cast, but that’s how careers get jump-started. You have to get your foot in the door. Once you’ve been the Nerd fifteen times, you can expand your range and convince your Reps to try a new look or photo. But in the meantime, go for what you are, it’s the perfect way to start your career!