Category Archives: Casting Director

Eleven Ways Not To Sabotage Yourself

Written by Terry Berland for The Networker

The acting business is based on so many variables that you don’t have control over.  The good news is there are many things you do have control over. I hesitate to share this list of errors because every item seems so obvious to me, but it’s happened too many times that I would be remiss not to share. Getting these things right can make a difference in being considered a trusted professional and, sometimes even getting or losing an audition.

  1. Attach a resume to your breakdown.  Some people do not have a resume attached to their photo submissions.  If there is no resume a casting director knows nothing about you.  Casting directors are choosing people who they know something about to fulfill a role, even if it’s just a look.  You cannot be considered without a resume.  Someone who has a resume will be chosen over someone who does not.
  2. Have more than one photo on your submission profile.  As a casting director, I like to look at four or five photos.  Several photos show a subtle range of what you look like and who you are.
  3. Spell names of people you studied with correctly.  The acting community is a small community. Most of us casting directors know who all the acting coaches are.  When I see a misspelling of an acting teacher I think it’s odd that the actor has studied with this person and are not aware enough to know how the person spells their name…or do they just not care.
  4. Get the name of the workshop right.  Everyone names or calls their workshop something that reflects their branding.  I’ve had people call my workshop whatever name they make up and even list the studio that I teach at as the name of the workshop  For instance my workshop is

“Commercial Acting Workshop.  It has the word “acting” in it for a reason; that being I use acting basics and treat it as a short scene   If you would list the name as “commercial workshop” it leaves out the word “acting’ which brands my workshop.

  1. Put contact information on your resume.  Yes, I’ve seen resumes without any contact information on them.  It’s obvious that no one can reach you with contact information.
  2. Look like your photo.  Your photo should be current.  Don’t choose a photo that makes you look prettier or more handsome than you are.  You should embrace what you look like.
  3. Confirm or cancel your appointments online quickly.  We (casting director’s) have to come through with a certain amount of choices for our clients.  Our clients get very, very upset with us if we don’t.  Calling talent to chase down a confirmation takes up a lot of time and is exasperating.  If you are not coming, let us know quickly, which will enable us to give someone else an appointment.  This will make your fellow actor very happy and save us a lot of agita.
  4. Put notes on your submissions if it is requested.  A note will make you stand out.  We have 4000 or more choices being presented to us in addition to agents and managers pitching clients.  You want to stand out.
  5. Submit for the correct role.  Breakdowns give us the capacity to switch you to a different role. After looking at 2000 photos taking the extra step of switching you might come at a moment when we can’t handle one extra moment to meet our deadlines.
  6. Read the breakdown carefully.  I’ve worked on SAG-AFTRA waived projects where there is money listed paid directly from production to talent but talent just see SAG-AFTRA waived contract and never notice the payment.  Because I really want the person to come in, I take the time to explain and re-read what the breakdown says.  You don’t want to be left out due to time running out.
  7. Don’t send correspondence without photo recognition.  If you are sending something through the mail include a picture postcard or business card with your photo on it.  If you are sending something via e mail, include a link to your website, or photo.  Maybe our memory needs a little jolt as to what you look like.  It can never hurt to show your face.  Links should be part of your e-mail signature.

Hopefully, you read over this list and say “I do all those things right” there is nothing for me to learn here.  But if there is even one that you can relate to and change, it could make the difference of you having the competitive edge or not.

To train with Terry Berland directly in her Commercial Acting Workshop, see workshop schedule at

Law Of Attraction For Actors

by Terry Berland

I declare this month Law Of Attraction month for you!

As an actor you want to attract the opportunities and the jobs.  It’s a feat to become part of the “system”, stay in it and snag the “gold ring”, the bookings. To do this, the most important thing is to attract activity to you, and the rest will come.  Fair warning, most results will be indirect and unexpected.

#1.  Create and gain momentum.  Stay in Motion. Newton’s law that a body in motion stays in motion, applies to your acting life. While you are in motion you can gently steer and change in a particular direction you choose when you feel it is the right time.

#2.  Long-Sighted goals.  Be realistic. Take one step at a time toward your long-sighted goals. Take your time to build up to the end results you have in site for yourself.  This might affect jobs you take, agents that represent you and acting classes you spend time and money on. I am certainly not advocating leaving an agent that believes in you and is working to build up your career.  If an agent is doing a good job for you, stay with that agent.  But for example, if your long-term goal is to be represented by CAA, build up to that long-term goal in a realistic way.  Another example is you declare “I want to be really great at advanced long-form improv.“  Well, you would have to take beginner and intermediate to build up to being able to handle advanced long-form.

#3.  Keep acting every way you can.  Create your own projects, act in acting class every week, do theatre, commercials, voice-over, video games, audio books, industrials, print work and even do an extra on a TV show to get on set to see how that venue works; and do every other form of acting that you can find that interests you.

#4 Work begets work.  Certainly don’t sell yourself short, but stay busy with any kind of acting work you can get.  Without selling out, take work for a fee that is not your long-term goal.

#5 Keep building your resume.   Start with the very important basic foundational strong acting technique training and then develop your resume according to the type of acting work you want to do.   If you know you are funny start taking classes that reflects being able to act with humor.  Also take improv that challenges the muscle in your brain that blocks and filters your creative thought process.  I once was interviewing an actor and after I read over her resume I asked where she thought her acting strength lies.  She said comedy.  I pointed out that there was not one play or acting class listed that reflected humor.  I told her the obvious, “you have a strong foundational resume, now start shaping it towards what your strength is and what you really want to do.”

# 6 Surround yourself with supportive people.  This is extremely important.  Walk away from negativity.  Leave it behind you and say “bye- bye”.

# 7 Surround yourself with positive people.  Positivity creates an energy around you that will attract positive situations.

# 8 Live by integrity.  Have integrity in everything you do.  Treat yourself with respect and treat others with respect.  That includes other actors, casting directors, agents and assistants.

#9 Believe in yourself :  You have to believe in yourself at every turn you make.  It starts when you walk in the room and continues when you walk out of the room and continues on your way home through that night to the next day.

# 10 Do everything with passion.  Show up at auditions interested, read all the directions given to you, analyze your scripts and sides, listen to direction given to you and make solid, committed choices.  Walk out of the room with joy that you just finished a satisfying audition.

#11  Be grateful.  Take time out to acknowledge all that you have.

Most of the time doing all these things magnetize indirect results and will bring unexpected situations your way.  I would love to hear about any of these things that you have done that have reaped you benefits.  Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below.


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.


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.
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.
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.

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


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.

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.


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


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.


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.


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.

What is the one most important direction to listen for ?

In a commercial audition, the Casting Director or the Session Director gives you directions before you start. The directions will usually be made up of:

  1. The general feel of the spot
  2. The feel of who you are in the spot/attitude
  3. Your relationship to other characters in the spot
  4. A particular facial expression transition they are looking for
  5. Where your eye line should be

It goes without saying that with all of these guidelines, you still have to, and should, make it your own. No one gives you line readings. Out of this list, do you know what is the one important piece of direction the director will be concentrated on while watching your audition?

If your answer is #4, you are right.

The transition is the most important acting direction. How you execute a transition shows who you are and how you feel.

Here is a perfect example of a casting I did for Fruit Of The Loom. Two guys are BBQ’ing. They are standing next to each other chit chatting, shooting the breeze, when they hear a thunderous sound in the distance coming closer and closer. Suddenly there is a crashing sound and horses jump over the hedges into their yard. Standing in front of them are men on horses who, by the way, are wearing Fruit Of The Loom. An everyday occurrence, right? The transitional direction was as follows: You should subtly look at each other when you hear the thunderous sound, you look towards where the sound is coming from and at the moment of the horses jump over the hedges,  look away from each other to the horsemen and back to each other.

The director is going to intently be looking at the monitor specifically looking for your transition from happily chit chatting/shooting the breeze to the transition of:  1) Something in your face showing a recognition of an unusual sound coming from the distance, 2) Looking at your friend for some kinds of common confirmation, and 3) Looking at the horsemen now standing in front of you.

When you are listening to the list of directions given to you, know how to pick out the important piece of performance direction that is included in what might be a long list of general directions. Listen carefully when the session director starts talking about transitional looks. Transitions of facial expressions are very important to be able to do, and they are usually subtle. Oxymoron of the day…Sharpen up on subtle.

There Is More To Being A Successful Actor Than Knowing Technique.

(Blog written By Terry Berland for Casting Networks/The Networker)

As talent of course you are focused on your audition technique; how you get the call back and the booking. This blog is not about that. However, knowing and understanding the process will enable you to be a wiser actor which will help you be a more confident actor. Confidence can only add up to feeling more relaxed, resulting in a better audition.

There is a life to a commercial project before you receive your audition time. Understanding this path will be very helpful to you feeling an important part of the casting process.

It starts with the ad agency being hired by the product company (such as Pepsi, Apple, Tide) to produce their spots. This is not on a one-to-one basis. There is a very large agreement with the agency to produce a certain amount of spots per year. The agency is responsible for media strategy as well as their buying power. Products usually stay with the ad agency for years.

At the ad agency, there are tiers of creatives. The writer and art director create and pitch their ideas to a supervisor who agrees on which spots will be produced.

The Production Company
When the spot is ready to be produced, there is a system between the ad agencies and production companies whereby production companies are invited to bid for projects based on the interest of the ad agency in a particular director. The director is hired to enhance the concept of the spot.

The Casting Director
The production company will then contact the casting director to first figure out the budget that they feel will “win” the bid or figure out how to produce the job within budget after they are awarded the job . At that point I as a casting director spend time helping to figure out this budget regarding the number of prep and casting days and studio costs. This can be a quick process or sometimes that take hours and hours doing and re-doing budgets to meet the production companies needs.

The Prep Of The Breakdown
The Casting Director (moi) is then awarded the job and it is time to put the breakdown out. We first have to figure out mathematically how we will fit the number of characters into the number of days we have been alloted to cast.

Then casting has to put in place the staff to prep the job. This team consists of the session runner who runs the outside of the casting room, the inside-office staff to set up the schedules, maintain drops outs and re-scheduling requests and put in place the audition director who is inside the room actually directing you.

After the breakdown goes out to you there are hours and hours, usually well into the night and weekends, of prep that I and all other casting directors do. As I am prepping, many of you receive calls from me at night or over the weekend asking you something about your skill or your demo.

Casting Studio Involvement
At the same time we are availing and booking the casting studio rooms, the casting studios are juggling the availability of these rooms. Studies are constantly being put on avails, released and then booked. When you come to our facility, Castaway Studios, or any other, you always see a studio manager. It is the job of that studio manager to juggle the facilitation of the studios and keep the place running smoothly. This of course includes maintaining equipment and internet service to handle the large volume of usage.

The Talent Seals The Deal
The next time you receive your audition and walk into the casting for your audition, stop a moment and remember all the elements that went into the important moment of you being there. Now we are counting on you when you sign in and enter the casting room to give us a great audition. You are part of the process!!