Casting director Mel O’Neil of Mel and Liz Casting joined us for our January 2017 seminar, where she gave us lots of helpful hints and useful information. Let’s check out some of her wisdom below!
1. Getting an Audition Is Like Winning the Lottery
Sometimes, actors tend to be nonchalant about having an audition. But the fact of the matter is that of the potentially thousands of talent that were submitted to a given role, if you are one of the lucky few to get an audition, you have essentially won the lottery. Don’t take that for granted! Show up ready to go, and be grateful for the opportunity!
Casting director Jeff Gerrard was kind enough to join us for our pre-holiday seminar on December 17th. Considering the fact that LA starts to look like a ghost town as the holidays approach, we were very grateful to get him.
1. Social Media: The New Normal?
He wasn’t terribly happy to give the answer and no one in the audience was happy to hear the answer, but the fact is that yes, in some cases your social media presence is taken into account when casting. It’s just the reality of the changing age, so get savvy with those profiles, people. However, don’t just start following a bunch of people, so that they’ll follow you back. This drives me nuts. If you follow 10,000 people, then no, I am not following you back.
The wonderful casting directors Maya Adrabi and Lindsay Bronson joined us for our November seminar to share some of their wisdom and experience with us. Let’s see what they had to say.
1. Make sure all of the dates work for you.
If you have an audition, then a callback, then an avail, and then you get booked for the job, and then you tell your agent that you have a trip to Europe that week, you’re doing things backwards. When you get an audition, make sure you check all of the dates and make sure that they work for your schedule. If the dates don’t work, tell your agent (or if you submitted yourself, tell casting) and things might still work out for you. But things will certainly not work out for you and your professional relationships if you hold that information until you get booked for a job.
The personable and, as confirmed by one of our Twitter followers, funny casting director Tim Harrington joined us for our August seminar to impart some more wisdom for our talented users. Let’s cut to the chase and get to that wisdom.
1. What do you regret not doing in the past? Okay, now do those things.
It’s easy to sit and wonder “what if” all the live-long day, but it’s not at all productive. Sit down and take stock of all the things you regret doing not doing, then make a plan of action to do those things going forward. This sounds really simple, but it kind of blew my mind. Maybe because I’m dumb? Who’s to say.
It was terrific to have casting director Gabrielle Schary come in for our June seminar, as she shared with us some great tips to succeed in the commercial casting world. From questions you might get asked at an audition, to current trends in the industry, take a look at the Top 5 Takeaways from our seminar with Gabrielle Schary.
1. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself.
Gabrielle (and many other casting directors) like to ask actors questions about themselves, to get a better idea of their personality. Oftentimes, you will not get a lot of copy in an audition, so you might be asked questions such as, “What was your best day ever?” or “What scares you the most?” Just relax, and be ready to talk about the real YOU.
The charming and funny casting director Danielle Eskinazi joined us in May to talk about everything from casting decisions to what you should do with your hair to social media to what you should do with your hair to age type to what you should do with your hair, PLUS . . . what you should do with your hair. Seriously, this month’s seminar had question after question about hair, from what ended up being an inexplicably high number of people, the answers to which can’t even be included here, because they were specifically about their hair. Anyway, here are some great takeaways that aren’t about hair!
1. Casting decisions are mysterious and unknowable.
Don’t bother wondering why you do or don’t get cast. Client decisions are mysterious and inscrutable. If you drive home wondering if you should have done this or that, or when you don’t get a callback wonder if it was your outfit or scene partner, or when you don’t book it after being on avail start to wonder if you should change your entire face and body and identity and state and occupation – don’t. Casting sort of lives and dies on people’s gut feelings and are probably a mystery to the decision makers themselves. And you should find that comforting, instead of feeling like you’re basing your whole life on a piece of driftwood that’s sitting in a soggy marsh of instability, the ultimate fate of which is determined by an inscrutable god. Ha ha ha ha – acting is fun!
Casting director Laurie Records, longtime friend of Casting Networks, joined us for our April seminar. Besides having the coolest hair I’ve seen this side of Crystal Gale (shoutout to my fellow ’80s babies), she also had a lot of great advice for actors.
1. You will book the job for who you are.
You can’t cover up or alter your true essence. That’s what comes across to everyone you meet and you will book something because of that. Commercials are less about a character you’re playing than they are about who you are. That sentence is rubbish, structurally speaking, but true nonetheless.read more
In March, we had the very charming and knowledgable Karen Ryan of Canvas Casting speak at our seminar. She had some great stuff to tell everyone and you’re welcome to comb through our live tweet of the day by searching the hashtag #cniseminar (where you’ll find all previous seminar tweets too). But Karen has a lovely Irish accent, so tweets are a pretty poor substitute for the real thing. That said, here are five great takeaways from the day.
1. Set Your Commercial Scene
Yes, commercial auditions are short and there isn’t much time to show off your acting chops. But you know what you can do? Set your scene with the subtle actions you would normally do in the situation of the spot. Are you supposed to be an office worker at their desk? Type the way you would actually type, with the expression you’d actually have. I’m doing that now and if I turn my attention on myself, I seem to be weirdly biting my bottom lip and I look perturbed. Why do I look perturbed? I don’t know, but it could have something to do with the fact that Prince died today. More importantly though, those are two things I could use to be a more believable actor in my audition. I had an acting teacher who once advised me to pick one thing in a room and decide that thing is the camera. How does that make you behave and what kinds of normal actions would it catch you doing?
We were thrilled to have crowd favorite Killian McHugh back for another CNI Seminar. (Our bad for letting so much time pass between his visits.) There was so much to glean from his Q&A that I scribbled down way too many notes to include here. Attendees definitely got the benefit of extra info on this one! While it was almost impossible to choose the five biggest takeaways from the event, I tried to select some that you may not have considered before.
Rock Your Vote
Your union vote, that is (although Killian is definitely a fan of exercising your voting rights in any form). We all know that budgets are shrinking. It’s happening across the country in every industry, and actors and casting directors are feeling the effects of it now more than ever. If you’re a member of SAG/AFTRA make sure you’re voting on union contracts because, you know, they affect your wages. Only 28% of members voted on the last commercial contract. That’s cuckoo bananas. If you don’t participate, you don’t get to complain, capisce?read more
By now you’re probably used to Lindsay’s ‘5 Lessons’ from our monthly seminars in Los Angeles, but I wanted to touch on one topic our guest speakers Emma & Marcus Nelson spoke about in January: working for a casting director.
As actors, it is extremely easy to get caught up in the art of your craft. It can be hard, especially in commercial casting, to remember that this is a business. A business designed to make corporate clients a lot of money, not for you to share your inner artistic truth with the world. (Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a time and a place for you to do that but it probably isn’t in a commercial audition for cold medicine.)read more