Category Archives: Casting

What do Hamilton and commercials have in common?

Written for the Networker by Terry Berland

“The Room Where It Happens.” Everyone wants to be in the room where it happens, and in the acting world, it’s the call back room—the room with the producers.


[BURR AND COMPANY]
The room where it happened
The room where it happened
The room where it happened

[BURR]
No one really knows how the
Parties get to yesssss
The pieces that are sacrificed in
Ev’ry game of chesssss


Here are seven pointers for being in the (commercial call-back) Room Where It Happens.

Walk in with an open feeling.

If the producers don’t pay attention to you right away, stay open, patiently waiting.

Feel empowered.

Assume you are the answer to their search. That will enable you to feel being part of that room.

Go with the flow of whatever happens in the room.


If the production team is friendly and outgoing, then respond as such. If they are grouchy and irritated know you are not the problem and stay open and vulnerable.

Don’t be affected by negativity in the room.


If they are eating, on the phone or on their computer do your thing and stay true to your choices. Note their rudeness to yourself, but stay strong and connected to your empowerment.

Don’t get thrown by a large pile of size cards of talent already seen.

Remember there are lots of age ranges and ethnicity of people being considered. You are usually up against only 30 people of your same type. You are an equal chance to everyone else in that pile of other actors.

Don’t be concerned if you are the first person being auditioned or the last person auditioned.


Don’t start figuring out your changes because of the time of day you are auditioned. I have seen the first person get booked and the last person booked.

Don’t wish the creative team good luck with the project as you leave the room.


If you leave the room wishing the creative team good luck with the project, it is a sign of self-dismissal and an expectation of not being considered.

THE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON YOU HAVE GOING FOR YOU

By Terry Berland for The Networker

When I am a guest at an informational event for actors, the questions are inevitably geared towards all kinds of do’s-and-don’t’s regarding how talent can ultimately get auditions, excel in their career, and be likable to casting directors—some of which include the questions listed below.

Popular Questions and Do’s and Don’t’s
What makes up a good, professional headshot?
What does a casting director look for on a resume?
What makes up a good reel?
Don’t be late for your audition.
Let casting know if you are not showing up.
Don’t wear cologne or perfume.
Read the instructions.
Be Prepared.
What to expect at a call back?
Is my type called in a lot?
Can I get work with my accent?
What’s the worst thing I can do?
What’s the best thing I can do?

What Is The Strongest Weapon You Have To Succeed?
Yes, all the answers to the above questions add to your knowledge, and knowledge is power. After all, I wrote the book Breaking Into Commercials for that very reason. But the most important element and most powerful tool for getting ahead and impressing a casting director, director, or producer is the bottom line of BE A GOOD ACTOR. Like cream rising to the top, good acting quietly yells out “I’m here,” and opens up possibilities of attracting bookings, auditions, casting directors, producers, and directors to the actor. Your most powerful weapon is being a good actor. What makes a good actor?
A good actor . . .

  • Loves to work out every week in his/her acting class and go deeper and deeper, because it feels rewarding.
  • Makes their way into local shows, readings, hangs out with other good actors, and appreciates and supports their colleagues’ good work.
  • Feels good about their auditions and moves easier through the inevitable frustrations of their career.
  • Stands out. Even if a commercial casting director is not in the actual audition and is watching the auditions on a monitor in-between other casting tasks, they look up and take notice of the good actor’s audition.

. . . and . . .

  • A good commercial actor will be recognized by theatrical casting directors.
  • The good actor’s audition will be pointed out at the end of the day and shown to the casting director by the session director.

Will the good actor always get the parts they want or be the richest person on the block? The answer is “no.” But if you are going to be in the acting profession, being a good actor is what you want to strive for and will give you the most personal satisfaction, with the chance to attract opportunities and succeed to your highest potential. Unfortunately there are no guarantees in the acting profession, but if you are going to act, put most of your efforts into being the best that you can be—be the good actor.

How to Get Your Submissions Noticed

By Terry Berland – Written for The Networker

Don’t miss an important element on your submission that could get you an audition.

There are many ways a casting director makes their choices as to whom to bring in for the audition. First, I’ll mention the obvious ones, and then I’ll talk about the one that stands out to me as not so obvious and not used enough.

The obvious things a casting director looks for to choose you to come in to the audition are . . .

  1. Your photo.
  2. Things we’ve seen you in in the past.
  3. Your resume.
  4. Your training.
  5. Your special skills.

. . . and the One Big Thing That Grabs A Casting Director’s Attention . . .

The Note Section

Use the note section to grab our attention, which seventy-five percent of agents and actors submitting directly don‘t do. Add a note to your submission to highlight some special skill. In breakdowns, when we are looking for any kind of special skill, we ask for notes. Agents and talent are not paying much attention to this, so we even cry out our request by putting it in caps: NOTE YOUR SPECIAL SKILL.

Agents Who Don’t Put Notes On Submissions

I’ve called agents who don’t add a note to ask why they didn’t note the special skill as requested. Their answer is, “It’s listed on the resume. I would not have submitted them if they didn’t have the special skill.” Yes, that makes sense and is the logical thinking of a good, responsible agent. But things have changed in the fast-paced industry with the number of submissions easily reaching 4,000 and more.

The New Effective Way Of Submitting Vs. The Old Way Of Submitting

With electronic submissions, there are many more agents and managers submitting who I’ll call “click happy.” It just takes a click to submit a photo; some people really go at it with very little thought behind it. “Throw the spaghetti on the wall, and see what sticks.” When we call the agent’s office to question why many wrong people have been submitted, some of the answers we get are actually “Oh, my intern worked on those submissions” or “Oh, I guess I didn’t read that piece of information.” The end result of having to weed through an excessive number of submissions, whether they are off-target or on-target, results in lot of exasperation with the ones that are off-target, and just not enough time overall go through everything.

Looking At Notes Helps A Casting Director Weed Through Submissions

A solution on the casting end is to first ask for notes, and then scan all submissions and look for those notes. I am not talking about notes that are permanently on a submission. For instance, I was looking for a good comedic actor with an authentic sounding Boston accent. A permanent submission note of “Great dramatic actor” clearly had noting to do with this breakdown, and shows lack of thought and attention to the specifics of the breakdown.

Examples Of Effective Notes To Put On Your Submissions

Make your note very specific. Here are some examples of good notes.

If the breakdown calls for:

  • A Boston Accent, note: “Born and raised in Boston.”
  • Good Jogger, note: “Jogs two miles three times a week.”
  • Good Tennis Player, note: “Was on college tennis team.”
  • Good at Improv, note: “Advanced Groundling.”
  • Drives a Motor Cycle: “Motorcycle License, owns a motorcycle.”
  • Speaks Spanish Fluently, note: “Speaks Spanish fluently.”
  • Real Photographer: “Special event photographer,” or “Owns two Nikons.”

Some of the notes are obvious and just repeat what we have asked for, but it will make your submission stand out, rather than requiring us to read through 4,000 resumes and hopefully get to yours.

The most important thing is to really be honest. You will be doing yourself and us a really big favor.

If You Think You Have No Power Think Again

By Terry Berland – Written for The Networker

Power-Cloud

Since you are the seller, and not the buyer, you have to find a way to stay positive. You may think you are in a less desirable position than the buyer. Let’s turn the tables in your direction. Maybe you would feel more empowered if you really thought about the fact that the casting director, producer, or director who are doing the “buying” (finding the right actor) do not have a commercial, film, or whatever else they are casting until they find the right talent.

Some actors walk into a casting room jazzed, excited to be there, and ready to create. Their attitude is “Give me a few minutes and I’ll give you what I got.” They bounce out of the room happy and go on to whatever comes along next, while other people are nervous and self-sabotaging in the audition and after.

Let’s look at ways to turn your negative thoughts that sabotage you into thoughts that empower you.

Know The Specific Acting Technique

All the advice I’m giving you will be based on the fact that you have to know how to act. In addition, you have to know a specific acting technique for whatever venue you are acting in, be that commercial, voiceover, film, television, or theatre. You should be working out in an acting class on an on-going basis, striving to be the best actor you can be, bringing out the true, authentic, honest you.

Now we can look at how your thoughts can be more empowering.

Negative Thought: The casting director has power over me.
Powerful Thought: That casting director is nothing without good actors. I am part of the collaborative team in casting this commercial, voiceover, TV show, film, or theatre piece.

Let me remind you, you can make or break a casting director.

Negative Thought:  Am I making the right choice? I’m worried I made the wrong choice.
Powerful Thought: Yay, I am being given the chance to create. Neutral is not a choice. If I stay neutral, no personality comes out. It’s my choice. I am really part of this creative process.

Reassure yourself that there is no guaranteed right choice. Remind yourself, if there was one right choice, they would have given you that choice to act out.

Acting coaches are hired by celebrities to make choices and work with the actor on their choices for a particular piece. I can assure you, even those coaches hope they made the choice that’s going to result in their client being cast. They also are not sure if they made the right choice.

But what’s the alternative?

No choice – no chance. Giving them no choice gives you no chance to be considered.

Negative Thought: You walk into the call back room and the voice in your head has a lot to say, mainly second guessing what they want. Every choice you’ve made flies out of your head.
Powerful Thought: Use the “I have to make a choice” scenario. Remind yourself you are in the midst of a creative process. They don’t exactly know what they want. “They are counting on me.”

The Callback Nerves

Negative Thought: You walk into the callback room where there are lots of clients and think  “I’m nervous. Who are these people? Will they like me?”
Powerful Thought: These decision makers in the room are human beings who have jobs. They are each there for a particular purpose. One being, their opinion counts as to who will be booked. Some do not have as much say and are more responsible for working on locations or wardrobe or responsible for bringing everything in on budget. However, all are answering to their client’s needs to the best of their ability.

Other powerful thoughts to use if the people in the room make you nervous:
I am so glad I don’t have a 9 to 5 job, pushing papers.
I am so grateful I can be artistic and creative.
I am so grateful I have a survival job that enables me to audition.

Negative Thought: I’m worried that I won’t get the job.
Powerful Thought: One person gets the job for various reasons, some of which are nonsensical or at the very least have nothing to do with my acting ability. I know I gave a really good audition. Even if I don’t get this one, I know this casting director, producer, or director will keep me in mind for other things.

Here’s the one you hear all the time: don’t take it personally. As long as you know your acting is top notch, you are constantly working out and under the guidance of a good acting teacher in whatever venue, I can assure you the rest is a process that is part of the crazy job of acting.

The suggestions in this blog will be more effective if you add power thoughts of your own to each situation.

What Separates the Professionals From the Wannabes

Written for The Networker by Terry Berland

Professional_Actors

How many times do we hear “Everything depends on the casting. This piece is actor driven. The cast will make or break this spot?” It amazes me that the right person can be picked for a commercial from a one minute audition, followed by a five or ten minute call back.

THE AUDITION PROCESS IS SHORT

In that eleven minutes, the creatives see your acting, feel the essence of who you are, and know enough to book you. They are then banking on you, fully depending on you to come through and do a good job acting on the day of the shoot.

Many people enter acting on a whim because it looks like fun. However, there are certain responsibilities that separate the professionals. The culminating moment is the audition, but it’s refreshing to take a look at all the elements that go into the preparation of that event.

RESPONSIBILITY THAT SEPARATES THE PROFESSIONAL ACTORS FROM THE WANNABES

Your responsibility as an actor started long before the moment of the booking.

    This responsibility or empowerment list includes:

  • *Knowing the technique.
  • *Having good photos.
  • *Keeping your resume fresh, reflecting your strengths.
  • *Keeping sharp with acting classes.
  • *Developing good demo reels.
  • *Having a website.
  • *Obtaining agents and keeping up those relationships.
  • *Confirming your auditions.
  • *Preparing for auditions.
  • *Showing up on time to the audition.
  • *Wearing the right clothing.
  • *Auditioning well.
  • *Staying healthy and being healthy from the start to finish at the shoot.
  • *Knowing your lines.
  • *Showing up in time.
  • *Showing up at wardrobe.
  • *Knowing how to go over your contract.
  • *Keeping track of your conflicts.
  • *Being available for your agent to audition.
  • *Booking out when you are not available.
  • *Staying creative throughout the day or days of the shoot.
  • *Keeping up your energy.
  • *Staying consistent to the look of your photos.
  • *Being able to sustain line changes.
  • *Ability to work well with others.

I’m sure you can add other things to this list. Send Berland Casting a message and let us know what empowering responsibility you’ve added.

Ad-Libbing in Commercial Auditions

Written for The Networker by Terry Berland

I’m not sure if actors really know of the “treading on thin ice” conditions casting used to have to work under to stay within the union’s improvising rules, in order to avoid fines every time we needed comedic actors to show a degree of creativity.

HOW CASTING DIRECTORS ASKED FOR AD LIBBING IN THE PAST

The Union contracts had always forbid casting to ask actors to improvise in auditions. Improvisation was considered a creative contribution to the spot, which it was thought should come with additional compensation. Unfortunately, this limited the actor from giving a full comedic performance and casting from finding truly unique individuals. To comply with this rule, casting directors and actors were forced to eliminate a certain degree of creativity by avoiding asking actors to improvise around scripted commercials. Casting would have to use certain language (wink, wink) that became a well known invitation to improvise, without actually using the word “improv.” On occasion, casting directors were reported to the union, which resulted in clients and casting being fined for entering the forbidden area of creativity set by the union.

New SAG-AFTRA Contract

New contract allows ad-libbing to occur at commercial auditions and sessions

SAG-AFTRA NEW CONTRACT HAS CHANGED AUDITION RULES REGARDING AD LIBBING

With styles changing through the years to be more real, looser, and less tightly stylized, the creativity needed in comedy spots and performances became harder and harder to finesse around the archaic contractual improvisation rules. The union has acknowledged that fact and the new contract does allow ad-libbing at commercial auditions and sessions. Payment is, however, still required for a creative session call – for devising dialogue or action not suggested by a script, storyboard, or by specific direction.

MORE CREATIVE AUDITIONS FOR COMEDIC ACTORS

We are thrilled to be able to be more creative with you in regard to comedic performance and give you the chance to comically show your stuff. After all, the creative team already has the dialogue that is amusing, now they need to find a comedic personality. Comedic personalities live in distinctive expressions and ways of saying things that is unique to each individual. That means adding some of the talent’s own words, changing rhythms, making side comments and/or riffing.

We are looking forward to more creatively working with talent. Free at last.

Has The Trust And Understanding Of The Agent And Casting Director Been Corroded?

Written by Terry Berland for the Networker

Is the Trust and Understanding between Agents and Casting Directors Gone?

The quick answer is NO.

Casting Directors and Agents

Everyday your auditions, avails and bookings are based on the communication between commercial Casting Directors and Commercial Agents. We don’t talk to each other much any more due to e-mails and we don’t see each other face to face either.

From the astute recognition that tensions, contention and misunderstanding between agents and casting directors were building up and the relationship was breaking down, recently the CCDA (Commercial Casting Director Association), which I am a member of, and the ATA (Association of Talent Agencies) had a meeting with a huge turnout to meet face-to-face and discuss issues that are misunderstood between the two groups.
The meeting was informative and friendly.

The meeting started out with plenty of time to meet and greet each other and then continued on to a facilitated group discussion. It turned out the biggest feeling of contention and misunderstanding of agents toward Casting Directors was around the subject of avails.

Understanding Avails

The Agent Point of View on Avails

Agent’s perturbed feelings towards the casting process came from them not understanding the inner workings of how casting receives their breakdown information, including timing and avails. When we put you on avail for an on-camera commercial if you also have a career in print, VO, film, television and theatre there are a number of other agents and/or a manger that has to OK/clear the avail dates. It can get rather complex. The agents were feeling that putting talent on avail was being taken lightly and thought of frivolously on the part of casting. The big question was “Why do so many people have to be put on avail?” “Why is an avail so important to you, anyway?”

The Importance of Avails

Avails are very important because at the time you are put on avail, you are being presented/sold to approximately eight layers of people to agree on your being booked. The people are the Ad Agency Producer, Writer, Art Director, Creative Supervisor, Creative Director, Account Executive, Director at the production company, and finally the Client.(More Info) It would be stupid if our team choose you and went through the approval process and then you were not available for the shoot. The availability includes final check of shoot dates and conflict if there is one. Would any other business “sell” someone or hire someone and go through many layers of an approval process without knowing the person is available for the job? Of course not! The selection process of talent follows the same set of organizational rules as any other business who goes through a selection and hiring process.

Actors and Avails

Usually, for multi-character spots three people are put on avail for each character. There is a first choice and two back ups. When we put out the avails we do not tell the agent who is first and who is backup. The reason is that many times the first choice is not chosen by the client; the second or third choice ends up being the pick. So if there are ten characters and three people are put on avail for each character, then there are thirty people put on avail for that commercial, but actually only three people per character.

Meeting Resolution

The agents walked away from the meeting understanding the process behind the selection and avail process. Then of course the contentious subject came up regarding releasing the avails. YES, we (casting) should release your avail. It is disrespectful and thoughtless if we do not. There are times that I know my office releases avails through emails to individual agents and also a general release through the breakdown service we use. We do get calls from the agent’s office, sometimes a week later, asking if the person is released yet. I don’t know where the communication breaks down. But it does sometimes.

I think the important thing for you is to understand avails and know that commercial agents and casting directors are meeting face to face in the spirit of a better working relationship getting YOU the talent out on auditions, giving you avails and final bookings as smoothly as possible.


THE SELECTION PROCESS OF BOOKING TALENT

More About The Creative Team.
There are eight people who are involved in the selection of booking process.

  • The Producer is responsible for putting together and keeping together all the elements that make up the production of a commercial. These elements include budgeting, selecting the director, coordinating the decisions of all the people involved, and making sure the production is on schedule, including the editing of the final spot.
  • The Art Director visually conceives the spot and makes it come alive through drawings and visuals. In short, he/she is responsible for the way the commercial will look. He works very closely with the writer.
  • The Writer puts the message into words and has to be in total alignment with the Art Director.
  • The Creative Supervisor oversees the activities of the art director, writer and producer.
  • The Creative Director sets the tone of the entire ad agency.
  • The Director is hired to direct and enhance the creativity of the spot. He has to work closely with the producer, writer and art director to stay within their guidelines of final acceptance of the client.
  • The Account Executive serves at the Ad Agency as the liaison between the client and the agency. It is their ongoing responsibility to talk directly to the client making sure the client is happy.
  • The Client are the executives who represent the product being advertised such as Apple Computer, Pepsi or VW.

Walking The Tightrope Between Being Booked Or Released

Are Avails Driving You Crazy?
Tightrope

We all know avails are a good thing. But are they driving you crazy?

Being put on avail is certainly a recognized indication that you’ve done a good job–and they bring you one step closer to booking the job. (I must take this moment to mention that not all great auditions will get you an avail.) Of course, you are then held on avail until the last minute, and if you are not booked, the only other option is you are released. The day or two (or more) that you are waiting to be booked or released is a combination of feelings ranging from excitement, trepidation, and anxiousness while you are wondering what’s going on behind the scenes that is determining your fate.

Simultaneous to the actor being put on avail, the booking process begins. The writers, producers, and directors make their choices and then the choices quickly go through a myriad of other people, including the creative supervisor and creative director, who weigh the determining factors. All their decisions are based on turning out a product that is creative and acceptable to final client approval.

Hoping to eliminate some stress and help you put some humor into the waiting process, I thought I would pull back the elusive curtain by sharing some inside information with you.

All the factors have one thing in common: they are subjective and you have no control over them after you give a good performance. The cold fact is you have to make strong choices because a neutral performance will get you no place. There may always be a margin of doubt about your choice; but when that thought comes up, stop, recognize it, smile at it, and say hello to it. Acting coaches who work with celebrities on their auditions for films are hired to figure out choices; certainly not to teach the celebrity how to act.  I know for a fact that even the most brilliant acting coaches who work with celebrities on these auditions sometimes are a bit nervous that perhaps they have given their client the wrong choice to play.

In a commercial audition, after the first big factor is determined of whether you make the character come alive, the following are some typical questions that come into play for the creative team in relation to the particular situation.

Does her essence fit the spirit of the character?

Does his character feel aspirational enough?

Does he feel approachable enough?

Is she funny enough?

Is she too funny where we won’t take her seriously?

Do we believe him?

Do we trust him?

Does his performance feel real or like a performance?

Does she feel too much like the other person we are booking?

Does he feel approachable enough?

Does he feel successful?

Are we pushing the client to far out of what we think is their comfort zone?

Knowing our client, will they “buy” him?

So folks, I rest my case. What more can you do other than give your best performance that feels very real, and let the process take its course. I wish you happy, successful auditioning with stress-free avails. #‎berlandcasting  #‎casting

The Art and Technique of Commercials

The AICP (Association of Independent Commercial Producers) has an awards competition every year for the best commercials, divided into many categories.  It is called The Art and Technique of the American Commercial.  Putting aside the auditions where you slate and “tell us something about what you like to do other than acting” auditions, I really do agree that acting in commercials is fascinating and an art in itself.

What makes a good commercial audition?  Actors will ask “What makes one stand out”?  Thank goodness the “old school” mugging and over acting with broad facial expressions is far behind us.  Plain but not simple, the more honest and the more depth that you can reveal of your personality in this short format, the better the audition and the more you stand out.  A lot of awareness and choices go into preparation resulting in seemingly effortless transitions.

You need to stand on the mark that you are given and immediately let us know who you are and how you feel. I liken it to a short theatrical scene, the “under fives”. There is not much to grab on to; very little time with very few words.  And in that short amount of time, you need to connect to whatever the scene and character is.

You need to know where you are, what your relationships are, and most importantly, who you are.  Actors, sound familiar?

The words become secondary.  It is WHO is saying these words that the client is going to buy.  That is what makes your audition unique.  Even the same “types” have unique personalities.  The key to a strong individual audition is letting out your personality, which allows the creative team into some depth below the surface.

The client does not need you to sell anything.  They take care of the sell.  They are using you as a vehicle for their sell. You do, however, have to understand the sell. You, then, have to take the script (or the improv) and make that a vehicle to let out who you are and how you feel.

Understanding the space you are working in, knowing how to expand it, and being able to identify beats will give your performance in this little space texture and dimension.

I don’t believe in thinking of yourself in terms of specific characters that you can play.  I think it is limiting to categorize yourself as a lawyer, doctor, businessman, nurse, etc.  However, know your type.  What I mean by that is what qualities do you innately have?  For instance, do you have humor?  What kind of humor is it?  Are you grounded, flighty, upscale, blue collar?  Commercials happen so fast; there is no time to develop a character.  You hear many times it’s “how you look”.  Looks do play an important part in this venue because of the speed of the message.   Longer theatrical scenes are actually easier because you can dig your teeth into and develop the character.  In commercials, we drop right into the scene and within one minute, it’s over.  No time to develop, grow, mature or evolve.  You have to make a choice and be committed starting with the first word.  Commitment starts way before you come in to the audition.  During the selection process, I recently had the experience of looking at four photos of the same actor. The actor looked completely different in the last two photos, even as far as hair color. I asked myself “who is this person, who would show up?”  I felt confused and a lack of confidence in the message the actor was conveying. I ended up calling in an actor I felt certain about.

Commitment continues during the audition. The client is looking for a personality to make the character in their spot come alive.  You have to make a choice and then stay true to who you are.  To do this, your personality choices need to drive your performance and the words will take care of themselves. Don’t let the words drive your performance.

Choices are a concept to respect.  You cannot be everything to everyone.  Yes, you need to know your technique to make smart choices and then put your energy into confidently staying committed to that choice. Wondering what “they” want while performing is counterproductive.  If you understand their sell and know the space you are working in, you won’t do anything terribly wrong.  After that, you’ll be directed with a slight adjustment if need be.

Know your technique, make strong choices, be flexible to change as directed and enjoy the 60-second opportunity.

It’s an art to tell a story and act in 60 seconds.  Be the best artist you can be.#‎berlandcasting #‎casting

The Casting Process; “Inside The Casting Office”

You will quickly learn that the process takes a group effort with excellent people as part of the team.  I work hand in hand with my Casting Associate in a delicate dance of sharing responsibility and cross checking everything to avoid errors.  It is a day of MULTI-TASKING.

AM
Before the casting session starts, Exhibit E’s are prepared, signs and directions prepared, printed and everything else gathered to prep the outside of the audition room.

Casting Director/Casting Associate (CD/CA) meet with Session Runner (the person running the outside of the room) to go over characters and the rhythm of the day.  The Session Director is shown the story boards and Director treatment.  Also, any ideas for props and blocking are discussed.  All technicalities of equipment are gone over by Session Director and any direct feed into CD’s office is checked.

START OF THE SESSION
The Casting Director has received their direction from the Director and must translate the direction to the Session Director.  At the start of the session, the Casting Director (CD) is in the room with the Session Director (SD) to direct the first couple of people for both CD and SD  to see how the direction is working out.  It could be a matter of a subtle glint in the eye of recognition as opposed to an “out there excitement” that makes the difference.  If the direction is wrong, the session is wrong. When the direction clicks in, the CD can then leave and go back to the office. The session is fed into the office on a monitor to be watched throughout the day by the Casting Director and the Casting Associate.

BACK IN THE OFFICE
While the CD is in the room with the SD, the Casting Associate is in the office manning the phones for production company calls, talent cancellations, change of times and new jobs coming in.  The production company has an uncanny way of calling and changing things (like direction) at the last minute.  Other typical calls could be production company asking for an estimate for a new job they are bidding on.  These estimates can be simple or can get complicated, taking up to an hour to prepare.  The number of characters and ethnicities determines the number of casting days.  Sometimes the CD is asked by the production company Producer how many days it will take to cast, but in these times of tight budgets, the production company ultimately figures out how many days realistically fit into their competitive bid.

The storyboards and Director’s treatment are sent to the Casting Director beforehand, then when the job is actually awarded, the CD is included on a conference call with the production company and ad agency creative team where all the character details are gone over again in more realistic detail than the Director’s treatment.  Many times, details such as run and conflicts are missing and the CD then has to speak to the business manager at the ad agency to gather the final information to be able finally get the breakdown out. All the details are then entered on the preferred breakdown service of the Casting Director and finally sent out.  The casting session is usually prepped to be cast the following business day.

In the beginning of the session, we are acutely aware of who is coming in by going out to the reception area, in addition to watching our monitor to see that our choices have fulfilled the client’s needs.  Right from the beginning a tone is set.  On the rare occasion that something is  “off”, we  take a look at the rest of the session online to make sure we are on track.  Something will be off when we call in people who we don’t know well and they do not look like their photos. You can see why it is very important to look like your photo. We congratulate ourselves for putting together a good session because our choices can come from weeding through over a thousand submissions per character, with too many of them very off base.

BREAKDOWN OUT
The breakdown goes out and within a couple of minutes, submissions start coming in.  At times, we see from the submissions that our description has been misinterpreted and we then have to tweak the description to shape the in-coming submission more to our liking.  There  are times the production company adds more characters or changes the characters, and we add additional characters to our breakdown. Many times, you get your calls late in the day for the following day because of this arduous process.

When we start a job, it’s like surfing a wave. We change with the current and veer in certain directions to avoid errors that will protect ourselves, agents, actors and production.  Clear communication is key.

FINISHING OTHER JOB DETAILS
Other jobs that are finishing up need avails put out, bookings done, and clearance reports sent to the Union. Taft Hartley reports need to be taken care of, if needed; information received from Agents and letters written. Station 12’s have to be followed through to protect ourselves and the ad agency we are working to avoid fines.

WHILE ALL THIS IS GOING ON, YOU ARE AUDITIONING and we are watching our monitor to see that the direction has not gone off track.  We also take a visit out to the reception area to see that the session is running in a timely manner. It’s a good opportunity  to touch base with some actors, say hello and then go back into the office.

We also monitor the morning session and determine if we are sparse on any character due to many unexpected drop outs.  If so, we have to put more people in the afternoon.  This, of course, causes possible back logs.  But we have to come through for our client and bring them what is expected from us.  There is no time for another session and this is not a dress rehearsal for us.

EXHIBIT E’s/TAFTS/FINES

Paper work is involved on every job.   Copies of Exhibit E’s having to be sent to the ad agency and original copies to the union.  We also take responsibility if the union is fining our client for a Taft.  We jump in and fight for our Taft to go through to avoid any fines to our ad agencies.

BOOKING/AVAILS

When the job is booked, we remove the avails from actors who are still holding. Bookings are put out and clearance reports sent to the Union. Terms of agreement and conflicts are gone over for the booking.

NEW JOBS COMING IN

In the best of all worlds, a new job comes in and all the aforementioned steps take place and we are again sifting through thousands of photo submissions.

The production company and ad agency have to feel they are being taken care of.  It takes a good team that works well together to bring all the elements together both behind the scenes and at the audition room.  It takes organization and team work to complete one  to several jobs. In one day we are organizing, selecting and inviting as many as 275 people to come to the audition at 5 to 10 minute intervals.

Thank you all for coming to your appointments with such little notice and doing a good job for us.  And thank you for canceling when you know you can’t come in order to keep our numbers up and meet our obligation for our clients.

So the next time you walk in the reception area, you’ll be a little wiser knowing what it takes to put this casting session together. #‎berlandcasting #‎casting