Tag Archives: commercials

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.

Beware the Spokesperson Read

Written for The Networker by Terry Berland

For every part you audition for, you have to make choices to give personality to the character. It is a known fact that you can’t be “neutral” and give a good audition.

There are all kinds of conundrums associated with what choice to make. “Am I being too big, too small, too this or too that?” Bottom line is you have to make an intelligent choice in the venue you are working on, based on all your education and training.

In commercials, there are many hints you can find in the copy regarding each character. In my Acting in Commercials workshops, I particularly teach how to apply backstories to your discoveries. Some information comes from the copy itself revealing the attitude of the character and relationships, some of which are obvious and some are not.

The big trap is the spokesperson copy.
Definition of spokesperson: a person who speaks for another or for a group. Many times the character is labeled a spokesperson, but they would not really want you to deliver this copy according to the definition of a spokesperson. Once you speak as a spokesperson, and speak for someone else or for a group, you will strip yourself of any possibility of a personality.

How do you make a choice regarding spokesperson copy?
The answer is, you have to know how this spot is branding the company. Here are some examples of products and typical branding.

Bank. They will want their image to be knowledgeable, trustworthy, friendly and approachable.
READ: That would mean you should have a personality that is real, knowledgeable, sincere, and genuine.

Car. You’re most likely smart, “with it,” and knowing, if you own this car.
READ: A particular person who is a winner, and knowing, who feels satisfied and comfortable with themselves.

Medication. They want someone who is well and healthy speaking about the medication, not someone who is sick.
READ: Healthy, positive, understanding, and compassionate. Definitely a inspiration to the person who is having the problem.

Cell phone company. Someone in the know.
READ: Be someone in the know, “with-it,” who makes smart choices.

So instead of choosing to be a presenter, even if the copy says “Spokesperson,” understand the end result of the branding of the spot and add the particular elements to the personality of your read.

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.