Category Archives: Casting

What is a Casting Director Looking For?

Written by Terry Berland | for Casting Networks

I like reading blogs about the industry. I wish I had time to read them all. A blog that comes up on occasion, not written by a casting director, tries to solve the big mystery of “What Is A Casting Director Looking For?” The question always revolves in and around the performance. So since I’m a casting director, I thought it would be a great idea for me to answer that question

I think my answer might disappoint you. I don’t believe anyone can answer that question. Why?  Because for both theatrical and commercial, the casting director is looking for you to bring us a performance with creative choices that makes the character come alive. I can’t spell out what creative choices are.

Having said that, I can answer the question in a different way and I can give you a list of what casting directors are looking for.

Good actors. Casting directors are only as good as the actors they bring in to audition. Bring creative choices to your performance that make the character come alive.

Do not give a neutral performance. Any good actor knows that and would never deliver a neutral performance. Working out in acting classes will bring you discoveries every week that you can deliver with confidence.

Reliability. This business is built on trust. We need actors that show up for their appointments and bookings well prepared. In other words if we have sent you scripts or sides along with the audition, be familiar with your lines. If we have referenced a subject, TV show, or anything else, do your research.

Easy To Work With Actors. We are impressed with actors who are in a good mood, happy with what they are doing and happy to be given the moments to perform in the audition.

Up To Date Photos and Resume. You must look like your photo. Maintain your resume every time there is a change.

Honesty. It’s a waste of your time and the casting director’s time if you are not telling the truth or exaggerating. If you say you do an accent well, you most do it well. Confer with fellow actors or coaches for a reality check.

Good reels. You need a demo of your on camera and voice over acting (if you do voice overs). If you are reading this and don’t have a reel yet, this should be a goal that you are working towards.

In conclusion, work on your acting in your classes and get the best that you can be.  Blow us away with your choices and performance. Make us laugh, cry, feel compassion, feel something….. and give us goose bumps. Those who study commercial acting technique with me know I have a goose-bump-read body meter. When someone “gets it” the better the read, my goose bumps travel up and down my arms for quite a while. In an audition, make the goose bump scale go way high and leave the room feeling great.

If you want to sharpen up on your commercial acting technique, follow this link to Terry Berland’s Commercial Acting workshop.

Veteran L.A. Casting Director Terry Berland On Helping Actors Make The Connection

Written by Kurtis Bright for NYCastings website

Most of the time, casting directors have very specific areas they focus on: commercial, film, or television, for instance. Especially when it comes to voiceover versus on-camera work, most CDs do one or other — rarely both.

But Terry Berland of Berland Casting in Los Angeles isn’t your typical casting director.  A New Yorker born and bred, Berland got her start working in advertising on Madison Avenue, cutting her teeth casting both the actors to be used on camera in agency-produced spots, as well as those who would do the voiceover. By the time that kind of in-house commercial casting had started to decline, Berland had climbed to the top of the profession, heading up casting at Madison Avenue ad powerhouse BBDO Worldwide.

So it made perfect sense that she would continue casting commercials, opting to head out West to open up and partner in running the commercial division of Liberman Hirschfeld Casting for a time before opening her own shop. It also made sense that she would continue casting both voice and on-camera talent, as she has done for the past 25 years, and continues to do out of her Wilshire Boulevard offices.

When she’s not casting projects like “Invader Zim,” or “Whining Low,” Berland enjoys helping out actors by teaching high-quality classes and dispensing her accumulated wisdom from sitting behind the table in thousands of casting sessions through her book, “Breaking Into Commercials.”

She was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to chat and offer some thoughts for actors.

On The Relationship Between Casting Directors And Actors:

Casting directors are only as good as the actors they bring in. So an actor needs to feel very much a part of the process, equal to the casting director. They should come in with the attitude: ‘I’m here to solve your problem. [I] have a creative choice, and it’s my way of solving your problem. Your problem is that you want to find the right person to make this character come alive.’ So maybe a big mistake is for an actor to walk into a casting and not feel like a part of the process. A big part of the process.

On The Similarities And Differences Between Voice And On-Camera Acting:

A similarity for the actors is you have to connect. And obviously there’s different techniques. There’s techniques for connecting on camera: for on-camera it’s like a short scene. For voiceover, you have to connect also, so that’s similar. The difference with voice acting is, because you’re only hearing the voice, the actor has to know how to subtly change things, and convey their message with a lot of nuances in their read. In on-camera you have the visual to help the message along, but with voiceover you only have your voice. There’s transitions in copy: maybe you start out bright, then there’s a discovery, then there’s an invitation to do something, and then a result. And that all has to come from nuances in your voice.

On Teaching:

I’ve been teaching for years. I love educating. I teach on-camera based on short scene study.  Voice-over is based on fundamental acting techniques too. The method I use is proven; people book more, get more callbacks, get agents. So it’s very satisfying. We just have to be very, very clear, when we’re a casting director that they’re coming to learn from us, and they’re not coming to audition. It’s teaching.  The rules that we follow to teach are very strict in Los Angeles.

On Giving A Good Audition:

Auditioning well is based on acting. The biggest mistake is not realizing they need to be an actor. Even when it comes to, ‘Slate your name and tell me something about yourself,’ it takes a certain way. In commercials, you need to look at that camera and be open and friendly and decide what you’re going to say with a personality. If its an improv they have to know how to do a commercial improv.

On Being Needy As An Actor: 

There’s just so many different things that can go wrong when talent is in the room. I would say one big thing is they should know what they’re doing – they should be confident, yet friendly, not above it all, they should know what empowers them, and they should not come off as needy. Because when there are clients in the room, you’re with the very people that can book you. And some people behave in a very needy way. We can feel it, and it’s not attractive.

On Dealing With Mistakes In An Audition:

If you’re doing a commercial read, and you make a mistake, improv around your mistake and try to get back on track. One of the worst things to do is to apologize and be down on yourself and make it a big tragedy that you made a mistake. Someone that’s really trained, in a fun way will try to improv around their mistake, and then either they get back on track or they don’t. A mistake can actually be a little gift. Knowing how to improv around that mistake can be a real gift.

On Crossing Lines:

When it’s a callback don’t cross a line figuratively or literally. You wanna stay on the mark that you’re given, and don’t walk over to [the clients] and start shaking their hands and saying ‘It’s so nice to meet you!’

On Connecting With The Casting Team Without Being Needy:

The best way to make a connection is to be good at what you do. Be friendly, open, say hello. But you don’t want anything from them. Don’t be attached to getting the job. The best actors go in, they do the best work they can, they’re well-trained, they know they did a good job, they leave, and forget about it, and go to the next one. And it’s an interesting dance, because of course you want the job. Let’s not pretend you don’t want the job. But you can’t have so much invested in that one particular job. Your job is to go in and give a good audition, and then the next one, and the next one.

On Being Neutral:

So I’d say another bad mistake actors make is they’re afraid to make strong choices, and they neutralize their audition choices. If you’re neutral you’re no place. You have to be distinct. We love when everybody’s good. I could have 25 actors come in and read for the same role and they’re all really good, they’re all just a little different. And then it’s subjective from the people who are choosing them, because the casting director doesn’t book them, it goes to the selection process.

On Choosing Where To Plant Your Flag As An Actor:

I would say go where you feel more comfortable, where you like the lifestyle. Good things are going to happen in [New York or L.A.], but the main thing is that you like the lifestyle initially. You should be happy with how you’re living, and where you’re living and then the right things will come to you. I know a lot of actors who do this: once they get started in one place, they then see thing more clearly and they reassess things and realize they want to live on the other coast because of their needs, their career needs, so they just make the switch. And say you start out in New York – there’s great training that’s really respected. Make sure you take full advantage of where you are. If you decide at a later time that you got everything you’re going to get out of that market, then you can always switch. But enrich your resume wherever you are.

If you want to sharpen up on your commercial acting technique, follow this link to Terry Berland’s Commercial Acting workshop.

How To Turn A Bad Audition Partner Into A Good Audition Experience

Written by Terry Berland | for Casting Networks

It is a given if you have a good audition partner that you have a good audition experience and you walk out of the audition feeling like you have a good shot at the call back.

Let’s define what a good audition partner is. A good audition partner has good timing and good chemistry with you. I teach commercial acting based on strong fundamental acting skills in a short scene format. A commercial is actually a short scene. In a short scene you have to know how to bring the best of yourself out quickly and if there is someone else in the scene both you and your partner have to know how to bring out the best in each other. You walk out of an audition with a good partner feeling you have a good shot at a call back or the booking.

Let’s talk about the auditions where you don’t gel with your partner at all. You feel the other actor has brought your performance down and you leave the audition feeling defeated, pretty sure you will never receive the coveted call back. This scenario can play out with kids auditions too. You can get paired with a kid who does not respond and you feel left in a lurch and bummed.

However, fret not. You can turn the situation around where you walk out of the audition happy, positive, with a bounce in your step, assured you have a chance at the call back.

Here are seven ways to handle a difficult audition.

Stay smiling and open. Don’t react negatively to a partner that is not auditioning well. Stay friendly, open and true to your choices. Incorporate the other actor in the scene by trying to gently finesse a reaction. Keep doing this and you will shine and the other actor will fall short.

Incorporate any flaws into the audition. Improv around something that is not working. For instance, make a funny remark about it. If your partner is till not responding, in good humor you may even start answering yourself. Always keep good humor and stay open with positive energy flowing.

Never get your back up and have a defensive, defeatist or irritable attitude. Keep on track to what you are trying to achieve in the scene; always trying to include the other person.

Show patience. Never loose your patience. You’re your good humor, letting your personality flow trying to uplift the scene, staying on track executing your choices towards the end result that you know is being called for.

Treat the situation with humor. This is actually a good time to build in humorous beats. Beats are little pockets to play in. The beats that you create are giving you more opportunity to show who you are and what you are all about.

Give a feeling you are a team player. Try to carry the person to where you know the scene should emotionally be. Keep being inclusive.

Show generosity. A bookable trait in an actor is generosity. Staying open with good humor and including the other actor in the scene makes you a generous actor.

When the creative team views the audition the actor who cannot hold up to their end of the audition will fall by the waist side, and not be considered.

You, the actor who is basically acting alone will shine.

You can walk out feeling YOU gave a good audition. I can reassure you in most group reads not everyone gets a call back in the group.

There are times people who work together get called back together, but not often. The call back is the time for chemistry reads. The creatives will pair together who they have a feeling will work well together. Sometimes there are several mixes and matches. Everyone at the call back should be a top-notch quality actor. If you are mixed and matched each experience will gel differently with each person.

If you want to sharpen up on your commercial acting technique, follow this link to Terry Berland’s Commercial Acting workshop.

Relationships Between Talent, Casting Directors, Agents and Managers

Written by Terry Berland | for Casting Networks

Living in the age of on-line and self-submissions, self-taping, and massive competition, in the commercial acting world, I am finding talent is not understanding the importance of the relationship between casting, agents and managers.

Bottom line is casting director’s depend on your representatives (agents and managers) to understand industry rules and regulations and keep order to the submission and booking system.  If a non-union breakdown goes out, 98% of the time there is a plus 10, 15 or 20% added on to talent payment for your agent and/or manager. I can assure you, as a casting director, when I receive the specs (details on the project), if a percentage has been left off of the payment for a rep (representative: agent or manager), I bring it to the attention of my client and they add it on to the payment.

As a casting director if I put a non-union breakdown out directly to talent and they book it without a rep, 75% of the time, at the time of the booking the talent informs me there is a rep involved. I then start communicating with the rep about the final details during client approval and bookings.

Talent should be sure when you ultimately turn the job over to your rep, after you have come to the call back and accepted the avail, that your agent knows you have accepted the job with the terms of agreement. You want to take seriously the fact that you have accepted the terms of agreement.

Casting would rather deal with an agent or manager than talent directly because there is a layer of professionalism and accountability added to the situation. We want to feel assured you understand all terms of agreement and you’ll show up on time for the wardrobe and shoot. You want a rep involved to protect you in case the terms of agreement get changed at the time of the booking or on the written agreement, or anything that you consider unfair happens on the set.

There is a mutual respect between casting directors, talent agents and managers.  Casting knows your rep is a business professional, devoting their time to making things happen for you and making sure everything runs smoothly such as you getting paid, to name one important factor.

Don’t ever think because a breakdown is released directly to talent that a casting director is by-passing your representative.  A direct-to-talent submission is usually only for non-union or harder to find special skill situations.

For a career with longevity you ultimately want representation and protection.  You want a team who is working for and with you, whom you have a good working and loyal relationship with.  You also want a career in an industry where you have protection and benefits.

If you want to sharpen up on your commercial acting technique, follow this link to Terry Berland’s Commercial Acting workshop.

How Your Casting Profile Can Get You An Audition (Or Not)

Written for the Networker by Terry Berland

There are certain things I would never chose to write about because they are trite, and I assume everyone knows the do’s or don’t regarding them.  However, recently prepping casting sessions, I started to take note of recurring “no-no” things that some talent are doing that I would consider “no brainers” to do right. Apparently it’s time for this trite, but important reminder list.

Warning!  Some of you think “of course I have that in place’.  But, it has come to my attention that things might not be as you assume they are on your casting profiles and you should check to make sure everything is as you wish them to be.

Your resume is not attached to your profile.

I am assuming you think your resume is attached, because how could you think you can compete against someone who does have a resume attached?  You can’t. Yes, we (casting directors) look at your resume to get a feel for who you are. On occasion, I have contacted someone asking them why they don’t have a resume online, and they are shocked to find out they have no resume on their profile. By the way, a fledgling resume is better than no resume at all.  Not having a resume attached to your photo quickly puts you into the “viewed /no” category. With an average of 4,000 submissions per project, casting is looking for ways to weed people out.

Your profile indicates there is a reel and there is not one attached.

The quickest way for us to see who you are is to look at a reel.  I am noticing on many profiles there is a reel icon and when I happily click on it, there is no reel.  It’s exasperating, disappointing and a waste of time. I wish I had time to get in touch with every actor to let them know their account is showing up that way.  But the reality is there is no time. Hopefully, reading this blog will help many of you.

Stay Away From Links To Your Reel.

Speaking of having a reel attached to your profile. Don’t give us a link to chase down instead of a reel attached.  It’s another step that can cause us to eliminate you due to lack of time. Looking through 4,000 photos, resumes and reels is daunting.  For pure survival, we will start doing what’s quickest, which is to just click on the reels that are there and not take the extra step of following a link.

Have the right number of photos attached to your profile.  

One photo is not enough  It’s a stingy choice that does you no good.  As a casting director, when I see one photo, you lose my interest right away. I can’t see enough of you in one photo.  Two photos are not enough either. My trained eye can see what I am looking for in four to five photos. I have been on many panels and the industry consensus is the same.

Clear old photos from your profile.

I lose interest if I see you with short hair and long hair and different color hair in varying photos.  I don’t trust who will show up so I don’t take the chance of having you in. There are two reasons to have this confusing range of photos.  Either you are not aware that it’s detrimental for you to show different looks that are not possible for you to have at the same time, or you have not put the time into cleaning up your profile.  Many times, I am told by talent “Oh, my photo choices have not been cleaned up, I still have the old ones on there”. They tell me this, truly with no conception that it makes a difference.

Check that foreign languages are correct.

I was casting several films recently that called for different foreign languages. I was shocked that “all” foreign languages were checked on more than 75% of resumes.  It’s obvious that there’s an option to click, and talent are apparently blindly clicking “all”, without any thought of the effect it has on casting. Loading our submissions with 2500 photos that do not fit the requirements of what we are looking for is maddening.  Have pity on us…..Please. Only languages that you speak fluently should be checked. In addition add an extra section that specifically mentions languages you speak fluently.

Don’t list your commercials.

Recently people are starting to list their commercials.  There is such a thing as conflicts, and you will not be considered for a product if you have a conflicting product listed.  Even if it’s a non-union commercial where there are technically no conflicts…you actually do have a conflict.

Check your profile every once in a while to see that it is up to speed.

You are in a very competitive field.  Every little thing I mentioned above can drop you in or out of the running. Imagine the pressure a casting director is under having to look through an average of 4,000 photos in the short time frame given to us by our clients.  Making sure the aforementioned is in place will place you more in harmony with the casting director/actor relationship. Ommmmmm….let’s go for the harmony.

To gain the most advanced up-to-date commercial acting technique you can study with Terry Berland. Terry Berland’s Commercial Acting Workshop.

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.

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.