Thoughts from my brain onto your screen…

Posts tagged “Casting Director

Casting Directors – The 1000 piece puzzle (almost) solved! Part 1

I’m not claiming that I have all the answers or that I know exactly how to “nail” an audition! However, over the last year I have taken to being the “other side” of the camera and played the role of Casting Director on several occasions. I cannot stress enough how invaluable this experience is for a performer! Not only do you get to see things from entirely new perspective, you also get to watch all the “classic” audition mistakes which we all fall foul to from time to time. Sometimes to witness a mistake is the only way you really understand why it is wrong. You can also flip this too; sometimes to witness someone doing it right is the only way you understand why it works. So I’ve come up with my Top Five Tips which should give you the best chance possible no matter who the Casting Director is. Some of it may seem obvious, some of it you may practice and some of it you may think sounds crazy. However, I urge you to have a read of each point and be really honest with yourself about the way you approach your career.

  1. It all starts before you walk in the room. How many of you out there apply for work yourself and send out a generic email to everyone that kind of fits what “they” need across the board? Well stop. Keep your emails short and to the point but make sure it is 100% tailored towards the role you are applying for. This IS time consuming. This IS boring. This IS worth more than you know. Obviously the Casting Director knows you are always actively looking for work. However, they don’t want to feel like 1 in 100 and this email has been fired out over and over for all sorts of roles. You need to get yourself through the door so being interested in the project, the role and indicating that you’ve got passion and an extra “spark” can do you no harm.
  2. Stop being so desperate. This is possibly the hardest one because most actors are desperate. We want to work, we want to perform and we need to earn some money. However, desperation is like fear; you can smell it. Being over-the-top polite and overly smiley and overly, “Yes Sir, no Sir” is actually doing yourself a dis-service. Firstly, you are not being yourself therefore, the Casting Director doesn’t know what it would be like to have you on set and secondly, it looks as if you never work which instantly turns off anyone before they’ve even watched your performance. I’m not saying be cocky, but be cool, calm, collected and confident. If you believe in yourself and the Casting Director can see that, they start the process expecting the audition to go well and pay extra attention to your performance.
  3. Don’t be lazy. If you are sent the script and sides. Read them, learn your lines, know your character. Look at the context of your scenes and know the relationship your character has with the other characters in the scene. You don’t always get the script but you often get the sides and you should try to become as familiar as possible. There is no excuse in the eyes of the Casting Director.
  4. Enjoy the audition. Be at ease and relax. The more relaxed you are, the more the casting director gets to relax and enjoy your audition too.
  5. Post-audition – don’t chase. They won’t forget about you and you sending an email just to say, “thanks for the audition”, doesn’t really serve much of a purpose. Just believe they will come to you.

Actors: Something to Ponder…

If you follow me on Twitter (and if you don’t…erm!?) then you’ll know I was recently speaking to an actor friend about how I am continually amazed by the lack of support actors receive from other actors. Sadly, it seems it is so rare to find other actors who, more often than not you know in “real” life, that want to support your work.

Although I understand the acting world is a competitive one; surely if, for example, I am a woman and you are a man, then we are not really in any direct “competition”.

I can only put it down to the threat of someone else “succeeding” while you are still struggling away. However, I always try to see someone else’s success as a beacon of hope that, I too will someday match their success. I too will be stood alongside them on the red carpet and I too will have rave reviews written about my performance! Because, yes the acting world is a competitive one, but really, we are all in it together! What is the point of being jealous? We could all look the same at an audition (and usually do) but if I smile a certain way or I wear a certain outfit, I could be the one chosen (or not) for the job. It is hard to accept but, a lot of the success or setbacks we have in acting are usually nothing to do with us as performers. It is to do with something far bigger than us and most of the time, it is luck.

Also, the success another person has does not take away from the success you are having, or will have in the future. The thing is, it isn’t a race which has a finish line. It is a career where, someone could be famous around the globe for a year and then never work again and another person could constantly work in supporting roles all their life but never be “known”. How do you measure their success?

Now, more than ever, networking is vital. It has always been the case that, it is not what you know or how talented you are, but who you know and how much they want to help you, which holds the key to your future.

The social media world is a diamond mine to all of us just trying to make our way and get ourselves and our work talked about. Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo and YouTube now all feed into each other so harmoniously, no one you know and no one your friends know should miss what you are up to!  Connecting with new people, sharing work and supporting each other is the only way we can really play as a “team” as it is such an self indulgent, look-at-me, industry.

Plus, it has always been true that PUBLIC acknowledgements of work are far more meaningful in the long run than the “friend” who sends you a text trying to show they care but who doesn’t bother to share what you’ve done with anyone. To take the 1 second it would take to click “Retweet” or “Share” would mean the world to the person who created the work and I personally, don’t think is too much to expect. I see it as “poor sportsmanship” to not share work with your followers and friends. It is also dangerous, because people notice when you don’t and when it comes to you putting work out there, you’ll realise how much the support of those other actors’ matters.

Now, I’m not saying support work you dislike or don’t agree with but don’t decide not to support work out of your own frustrations. If I see someone has put a link up to their showreel or latest review, I will always share it, I don’t even think twice. I maybe no good to that person, but someone who follows me might click and think, this person is perfect for what I need! I may not even realise I was the link between the two but how wonderful if that is how someone got an audition?!

So why am I bothering to post this? Well because I was recently asked to find a girl and two guys for a really, REALLY exciting project I am involved in. The specifications were quite detailed but I certainly knew a person or two who I could recommend. However, rather disappointingly, I found myself thinking twice. You see, I recently posted a personal project and I couldn’t help but notice the lack of support from certain people who you’d almost take for granted as people who would share and retweet your work. Some people I have recently helped land roles in other things, people whose theatre performances I’ve atteneded and people who I have worked with etc. I found myself thinking, why should I hand them this opportunity on a plate when they can’t even be bothered to click a button to support me?! Is it childish, probably? However, I have had this work out there for over a month now and the support I’ve had from people has been amazing. Yet it’s mainly actors who only, “sort of” know me (however, not always the case and please note, I have noticed if you have!). Or who have watched it on other acting blogs and felt inspired that bother to comment, support and share. It is these people I felt compelled to contact, who I felt I owed the opportunity to.

I bet I’m not the only person who thinks like that.

Something for you to ponder Actors.

A Very Public Breaking Point

Inspired by the response my last post had, I thought I share another, more hilarious audition tale with you. I like to refer to this one as, The Tale of the Exploding Man!

It was one of those castings where your agent calls you up, you look at the breakdown (character brief) and think…”Erm?! I don’t suit this at all”. It was for a commercial too which, as I explained in my previous post, isn’t always plain sailing! I went along thinking the chances of me landing it were about as thin as a model at Fashion Week and I casually chatted to the other actors around me and gave the script a quick read.

Very unusually for a commercial casting, we were actually sent the script the night before and I’d had a read to see that mainly the two male roles spoke and us ladies were…fillers! However, on the day, the script we were given was entirely different and more scenes had been added. A couple of people asked if this is what other people had been sent the night before too, which everyone replied, “no” and smiled knowingly at each other that the script had just simply been changed overnight. No one really cared about it. It is the most common “problem” for actors to be auditioning with scripts they have seen just moments before.

Then, in comes the man…there is usually always one at every casting. The really LOUD actor who wants everyone else to notice them. He made a real song and dance out of the simplest of tasks; taking off his coat, finding a seat, filling out his form, it was all very dramatic. However, his look suited the breakdown to the ground; he was every bit the nutty professor with crazy big white hair and a monocle! The rest of us fell silent and went back to reading over our scripts, smartening up our hair or applying the last of our make-up.

After a few moments the man asks the group if there are any other copies of the script? I show him mine and he studied it for a moment, looked back at me and said, “No, the one they sent last night was different. That is what I am auditioning for.” I smiled and said, “Yes, I think they’ve changed it overnight. This is the new script.” – He blankly stared at me. – A few seconds went by. -

Then, out of no where, this man screams…and I mean SCREAMS! Everyone’s jaws were on the floor as we listened to him begin to rant and rave! He went on for a good few minutes, swearing every second or third word about the fact that he had stayed up all night learning his lines! He had cancelled work, cancelled a doctor’s appointment, and changed “everything” in order to be off script and word perfect…

When he stopped finally, the casting director came out of the audition room and politely asked if we could keep the noise down as every word could be heard. His face went very red and I thought to myself, you might as well go home now. A male actor offered up, “Never prepare too hard for commercial castings mate, they always change stuff” but it came out more sarcastic than reassuring.

Looking back, I feel quite sorry for him. Every now and then we all have that moment where the industry just chucks that final straw at us and we break. His look suited the job so perfectly, he had probably laid a lot of hopes on getting the part and done as much preparation as possible so that it would happen. Sadly, at a casting in earshot of the people you are about to audition in front of is absolutely the worst place for you to show your frustration.

I got lucky though and landed the job! I think the exploding man made me realise I could stand more of a chance than I thought…

The Commercial Casting Fail

Well holy moly it has been a long time since I’ve blogged anything more than a few words and a photo. I must apologise for my tardiness! The time has now come however, to turn my attentions back to MyLittlePonderings and share my thoughts, feelings and musings with you all once again.

Today I am going to share the simple tale of The Commercial Casting Fail and I share it with you as I’m pretty sure I’m not alone and many actors out there have experienced the unforgiving nature of these auditions!

The magical call from your agent saying you have a commercial audition that you perfectly suit the breakdown for is one most actors can’t fail to get excited by. Sure, we all might have a grumble…”It’s not really acting, is it?!”, “Ooo my big break” or “How embarrassing” are phrases that have passed my lips when telling friends or family. However, the truth is, it’s work! These days, it often means travelling abroad, good exposure and a lot of fun! Plus, commercials are usually really, REALLY well paid work too. So why wouldn’t we get excited?!

Well, because quite honestly the “Commercial Casting” can be closely compared to a “Meat Market”. You line up, have your photo taken, look at the sides (script/direction), wait with a room full of people who all sort of look like you but then also who look nothing like you and then…PERFORM!

I always try to “dress for the part” as much as reasonably possible but for my casting on Monday, I was given very strict instructions by my agent to dress as beautifully as possible, as if I were attending a wedding. And in fairness to them, on the forwarded emails from the casting company, these were the guidelines given.

I had nothing appropriate with me as I’d just been on a weekend trip to the Lake District where I’d lived in muddy riding boots and my North Face Gilet! So I went out and bought a dress, shoes, the whole she-bang-bang. However, when I arrived at the casting, all the other “meats” were dressed in jeans, t-shirts, leather leggings and generally looking pretty trendy and chilled. I felt like a complete idiot (to say the least) and probably looked like an even bigger one! To add insult to injury, the casting director asked me, “what were you told to dress as?”, I meekly replied to which she laughed and said, “oh right, that’s weird, well you do look nice”…..!

I then had to act alongside a guy wearing Hawaiian shorts (NO I am not joking) and a VEST (it hadn’t stopped raining at this point for 3 weeks!) who’s role was to propose and I cry tears of happiness and accept, he then runs around with joy. Well! This guys idea of extremely happy was to say “woo” and then high five me…. WOULD THAT REALLY BE YOUR REACTION?! Two minutes later, I’m on my way home.

Needless to say, I didn’t manage to summon up tears of happiness (although tears of humiliation were close by) and I’ve not heard back from the Casting Director. Sigh.I managed to return the dress though…Every cloud!


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