Here I go… beating that drum (or dead horse, depending on how over this topic you are) again. My commercial friends: I can’t emphasize enough how important really great commercial headshots are. I think you know this. But I’m not sure you KNOW, KNOW this. I believe more of you would be picking up extra shifts, watching tons of commercials, shopping for wardrobe and making sure you are on the wait list of the best commercial headshot photographers, if you truly took this to heart.
Commercial actors should never forget HEADSHOTS are their single most important tool.
Commercial actors should never believe they are less than 100% in charge of their own success.
Ok, I just started right out with a lie. I have no doubt you could rattle off a list of things that are out of the control of you, the commercial actor. I can! There are a few things, admittedly, that are out of your hands. It’s likely you find these things frustrating. I hear actors talking a lot about the topic. Too often it’s a focus, in my opinion. Too often it’s an excuse. Yep, I said it.
One of the great mysteries (and frustrations) in the casting world is why some actors don’t show up to their audition appointments. Right now you, the actor, are either shouting at your computer in exasperation because you would never miss an audition, let alone be unprepared or late. Or, you are going though the list of what seems to be legitimate reasons an actor (ahem, you) sometimes miss auditions. And while I’ll fully admit those legitimate excuses exist, I’m sure it’s not nearly as often as I hear them. What’s the big deal? That’s well covered territory, but a quick recap: it’s a BIG deal. So, what gives?
Commercial actors should never stop assessing why they don’t show up. read more
Have you noticed changes in the commercial business and can’t make heads or tails of it? Perhaps you can’t put your finger on what the movement is, but you know something is definitely moving. I’ve always marveled at the rate of change in commercials. I have to keep up because my business depends on it. Yours does, too. If you take the commercial pursuit seriously, your business depends on you being in the know, so that you can make informed, strategic and thoughtful decisions. For the millionth time, booking a commercial (or commercials, plural) isn’t a crap shoot. It’s a thing. And you gotta know about the thing. How? Let’s talk about it.
Commercial actors should never stop asking the important questions. read more
I always like to keep things in perspective when casting. A favorite phrase of mine: We aren’t curing cancer, we are casting a commercial. This is important for me, personally, to keep in mind because things can get stressful quickly in the world of commercials and sometimes it feels like the walls are caving in. As things move quicker and quicker and demands become more insane, actors will be increasingly finding themselves in the position to save the day.
Commercial actors should never miss an opportunity to become a casting director favorite.
I just scrapped my planned subject for this column. Why? Because I was going to address some nuances… some (seemly) silly subtleties of the commercial world. Unfortunately, it’s become clear over the last few casting sessions I’ve had that some bigger issues should take precedence. Knowing the finer nuances of the commercial audition will prove worthless if you are performing (knowingly or not) some giant jerk moves. You may think you know the golden rules of commercials, but I’d urge you to read with refreshed eyes and consider once again if you are causing a small to large crisis in the world of a commercial casting director.
Commercial actors should never… break the golden rules of the commercial audition.
There are many, many different commercial audition scenarios. Just when you think you’ve experienced them all, I guarantee there will be a new curveball thrown your way. And it’s part of the fun, yes? But there are consistent scenarios that you can expect to encounter on a regular basis and those are the ones you want to know how to handle like a pro. If you are a commercial actor, you will be partnered up and placed into families on a regular basis. There are ample opportunities to shoot yourself in the foot when attending a family or partner audition, and I’m not sure actors always know when they are doing it. So let’s discuss.
Commercial actors should never… sabotage themselves in partner or “family” auditions.
You might be familiar with the idea of “being impeccable with your word”. It comes from Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements. Or perhaps Robert De Niro’s character in Meet the Parents and the “circle of trust” talk with his future son-in-law played by Ben Stiller may be more familiar to you. Surely one, if not both rings a bell and strikes a chord. Trust, and your impeccable word plays a huge part in your reputation as a commercial actor. You gotta keep your word. Period.
Commercial actors should never break trust.
I’ll admit, I’m a little excited and a little scared. I’m attempting to tackle a topic that doesn’t have a clear answer: How an actor finds commercial representation. I’ve had many actors ask and my answer is always something close to shrugging my shoulders. But that’s a cop out. There are MANY ways an actor can obtain a commercial agent and I know of plenty of them. The painful part of the process is no one can say which one or which ONES will work for you. There are variables that are in your control and out of your control at any given time. In the end, you just need to try things and work at it. But making informed decisions is a good thing, and that’s where I (hopefully) come in with some help.
I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the context of the conversation, but I very clearly remember having it. I was talking with an actor who has been at it for quite some time. He isn’t famous but has been hired plenty of (MANY) times over the years—you know, where lots of actors find themselves, somewhere in that grey, middle area of the success arena. He told me, “When I go to a theatrical audition, I know I can book it. When I go to a commercial audition, I never think I will.”
Commercial actors should never give up on commercials without realizing it.