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TEN FACTORS OF TRUST CASTING DIRECTORS DEPEND ON FROM ACTORS

Written for The Networker by Terry Berland

There is a huge trust factor that the commercial business is run on. If talent does not come through on their end of the trust factor, the casting process would end in failure. Here are ten factors of trust casting directors depend on from actors.

You Look Like Your Photo
If we (casting directors) do not have a reel of yours to look at, we only depend on your photo. A physical look in commercials is very important because the entire message is a “quick read”. It is devastating and maddening when you come in for your appointment and look different than your photo. Some ways you can look different are looking much younger or older, or your hair is a different style or color. Perhaps your photographer made you look prettier/more handsome or not as pretty/handsome as you really are. If you are a professional, you will want your photo to look like you, not different. Looking different than your photo has caused a casting director to give an appointment to someone who is not right for the part.

Your Acting Ability
Strive to be the best actor you can be. Don’t study dramatic acting only for a short while just to list it on your resume. Study to really get good. The same goes for improv, don’t just take a quick level-one improv class just to list it. Take more advanced levels in your acting training. Know the different acting venues you will be auditioning for.
Perhaps you have extensive dramatic or comedic acting training, but you never took a commercial technique class to learn how to apply your acting to the commercial venue. Your ability to act in a particular venue is very important. Many very good actors take my Commercial Acting workshop where they learn the similarities and differences between commercial acting and film and television acting; not to mention theatre acting. A good actor will be wise to take their good acting ability and learn each venue. There is a different technique for film as well as television, in addition to different techniques for two-camera or single-camera sitcom shows, in addition to differences in commercial acting techniques.

Truthful Resume Regarding Special Skills
Be careful not to exaggerate how well you do something. It is a waste of an audition space the casting director has to assign to an actor and a waste of your time to come in for something you are not right for; it is a mark against you if you say you do a special skill well and you don’t. If a special skill is involved such as horseback riding, we’ll hold call backs at riding stables to actually see you ride. It never fails that some talent at these auditions cannot ride well (or do whatever skill they say they could do well). If we can’t hold auditions at a location where we can see you do your special skill; second best is we request current tape on yourself doing whatever special skill is called for.

Your Submission Notes Are Accurate
A good way to catch a casting director’s attention is to write a note on your submission about your special skill. If we are looking at large volumes of talent submissions your note can easily catch our eye, and of course we take your word for it. Be truthful; don’t say anything just to get in the door.

Showing Up For Confirmed Appointments
Every appointment time counts to us. If you don’t show up that’s one less actor we are presenting as a possibility to our client. Our clients expect to see a certain amount of people at a casting session. If you don’t cancel your appointment in a timely manor, you’ve cheated another actor from a time slot. If you have to, cancel in enough time for us to fill the spot with another talent who can make it to the audition. Budgets are tight, casting directors have the day assigned to them to cast and that’s it! We have to come through for our clients on that day.

Accurate Accounts Of Conflicts
Check carefully that you are free of conflicts. When we go to book you and you then tell us you are not available, the entire process of selection has gone down the drain.

Accepting And Keeping Track Of Avails
Be very careful to coordinate with all your representatives that you are clear for the dates you say you are available. Availability is a hand-shake agreement but if it’s not adhered to, valuable selection time has gone down the drain. If you are part of an ensemble, replacing you with someone else causes the entire look and feel of the cast to change.

Accepting A Booking
Every detail of the selection process is based on trust, including the terms of agreement, until you sign the contract. Usually the contract is handed to you on set. If all details of the terms of agreement on the contract are the same as stated in the breakdown, it is not acceptable to have second thoughts at the time of signing your contract.

Showing Up At The Shoot
There is no such thing as being late on a shoot date. You show up early at the shoot. Early is on time.
Knowing How To Behave On A Set
Hopefully you are familiar with the behavior of being on set. A good idea in your preparation training stage is to get on a set through extra work to see how everything works. You are working every minute on the day of the shoot, even when you are not actually acting. This is a cell phone, text free zone. You are off the grid during the shoot day.

All this being said, we (casting directors) really depend on you. It’s a team effort and we appreciate you understanding the importance of knowing the elements it takes for casting to run smoothly from selection to the actual booking.

IS YOUR RESTING FACE CAUSING YOU TO LOSE A JOB?

Many actors think that the only thing important is to “turn on” when the camera rolls or when the scene starts. However, there is nothing farther from the truth than this.

First step of selecting “yes’s” was made. The next step is to go through all the possible yes’s and hone them down to the first choice and two backups. To do this the creatives go through the size card photos that they use as reminders and they shuffle them around for organizational purposes. They consider each person and talk about their performance and their essence that will fulfill the character

One of the actors did a great job when the camera turned on, but totally lost all personality when the camera was off. When they got to this fellow’s size card the first thing the creatives talked about was the fact that he really did a good job when he was acting, but when the camera turned off, he had no personality; he turned off. They quickly decided they were not interested in someone who turns on and off, who doesn’t have “it” all the time. It means he is just “acting”. They wanted a personality when the camera is on and the camera is off. That actor was unanimously put in the “no” pile and lost the job.

So the trick is how do you be “on” all the time without being fake? How do you “take a room”? It’s not so much that you need to be “on”. It’s more like you can’t turn “off”. Being “on” is as simple as being open, present, emotionally connected to being in a room full of people and in relationship to the other human beings in the room and to what is going on. The relationship you want is open, friendly, pleased to be there and loving what you are doing…authentically.

I would venture to believe that actor whose resting face was disinterested, removed with the lack of any joy revealed in his face, probably did not feel that way at all. I truly believe he felt really happy to be in that room and had no clue that his resting face was unengaged and disconnected from other human beings.

I’m noticing how important the resting face is. Recently I was teaching a workshop and one of the participants in the workshop looked like he hated me and everything else that was going on. His facial expression was hard and unfriendly. He was that way sitting in his seat and as he took his mark. But when the camera went on he lit up and did a great job. The huge lesson for him was not what to do when the camera went on but his awareness of who he is, or appears to be, at all other times.

“Who you are” at all times matters, and who you are must show on your face.
We are looking for people who are “engaged”, pleased, friendly and open. If you’ve never thought about it…take a look at yourself when you’re not looking…take a look at your resting face.