Tag Archives: auditions

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.

7 Steps to Make A Difference In Your Career

Written for the Networker, January 1, 2017

There are certain things I don’t write about because I think the information is too elementary, but throughout the year some recurring mistakes jolted me into thinking I should relay this information to you, so I decided to start out the year more cut-and-dry, relaying seven steps that can make a positive difference in your acting career.

1. Include a photo and resume in your e-mail communications.

When you are connecting with someone, whether it be a thank you, a question, or any kind of communication, include a photo, resume, or a link to your website. The most seamless way to do this is to have a website and include the link to your website after your name.

A casting director is only human and does not always remember exactly who you are. It can take up three times to remember.

2. Make your handwriting legible in your written communications.

I appreciate the time, thought, and business organizational skills it takes to write a thank you card. Many times I receive these cards and I cannot understand the talent’s signature. I don’t know who the heck I got the thank you from. Not a good situation.

3. Include a photo business card in your handwritten notes.

It’s best to also include a little business card with your photo and contact info on it. Again, it is a visual identification of who you are. We can’t have too many subtle reminders.

4. Send postcards to touch base.

Don’t think a picture post card sent by snail mail is an obsolete way of communicating. It actually stands out more now, with everyone doing their communications online. It’s a true indication that you are taking your career seriously as a business—very impressive. Send them out about four times a year. The repetition is a great tool to help us remember.

5. When you are submitting yourself, confirm quickly online.

Many, many hours after we post appointments online, we have to call about 50% of the talent to ask if they are confirmed. Please note, we need confirms because if you cannot make the casting call, we have to replace you. Being easy to work with adds to your reputation and success as an actor.

6. Answer your voicemail messages.

When I cast a film, which I am doing as I write this, I find I have to communicate details via e-mail instead of through the breakdown service. My office, therefore, has to call you to ask for your e-mail address. We find there are some people we have to call three times before they finally answer us—very frustrating.  It’s only during the callback process that we bother chasing you. That phone call is unexpected. Expect the unexpected, and respond.

7. Include your e-mail address on your resume.

It’s better to have several ways of being reached. It’s quicker for us to send you an e-mail than to call. And for those who don’t check their voicemails, it will eliminate the possibility of getting a job.

Here’s to a great start to 2017.

tag actorlife, actors, auditions, casting director

FIVE REASONS YOU MAY NOT BOOK THE JOB

A really good audition makes the casting director, the producer, and the director really happy. You gave a good audition, you got put on avail . . . and then you didn’t get booked. Why?
I can assure you it is nothing that you did wrong. So if it’s nothing you did wrong, what could it be?
The callback is the time the spot takes shape. Many variables come into play.
Here Are Five Reasons Why You Might Not Get Booked
1. The Spot Has A Certain Look
All variations and combinations of looks are considered. During the callback selection process, as the spot takes shape, your look might not quite fit in. I have seen a group of six people chosen and upon final consideration, the creative team noticed everyone was brunette. One person was randomly taken out of the group and replaced with a person with lighter hair. I remember feeling an “ouch” for the person taken out of the group.
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You might look too upscale, not upscale enough, too pretty, not pretty enough, etc. You can’t change how the creatives decide how their spot should look.
2. The Spot Has A Certain Feel
As the spot comes alive at the callback, the creative team sees more clearly what is going to work for the feel they want. The essence of your personality might not work. You might feel too humorous, not humorous enough, too serious, not serous enough, or too intellectual. I’ve even seen an actor with a wonderful performance lose the job during final consideration because one person on the creative team felt he did not feel “trustworthy” enough. The “feel” of who you are is your essence, and you can’t change your essence. You have no control over the feel of a spot.
3. Character Relationships In a Spot
When a group is being put together, you might not gel well with the other person they definitely want. You may gel well, but someone else gels better or differently.
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Chemistry comes into play during mixing and matching of people being considered. Sometimes you will actually be asked to stay to be mixed and matched. If you are not asked to stay, the creative team actually mixes and matches by shuffling around the size cards. They discuss the different feel of people together. You can’t change chemistry between people.
4. Change In Direction
There is always the chance that the direction of the spot, or your particular character is changed. You have no control over the ad agency or director making these changes.
5. Luck Of The Draw
Everyone is unique. Put two really good actor’s performances toe to toe in front of the creatives for them to choose, and they can only choose one.
All you can do is give your best performance, be knowledgeable about how the system works and feel fortunate you got to audition, got the call back and most importantly know that even though you didn’t get booked, you pleased everyone. Really know you will be remembered for the next opportunity.

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.