You’ve done all the things you can to have command and control over your career. You are a solid actor, you have a well-developed resume, you are comfortable auditioning and you know how to be in a room. (see blog What Hamilton and Commercials Have In Common). Even after doing all you can do to take control, there is one element you have no control over that can work for or against you. That is the element of luck.
After you do everything to create your own luck, let’s look at where this mystical area comes into play. Bringing these areas to light can eliminate the stress of fighting against something you really have no control over.
Know who you are, encompass the character you want to play, and target the shows that have your type of character.
All the hard work you put into being a good commercial actor can help you transition into a career in television.
Here are six elements from your commercial career that can help you make the transition to television acting.
1. A Commercial Spot Running
If you have a good commercial spot running, you have a body of work that may be recognized. Theatrical casting directors watch commercials and frequently search for someone they have seen in a commercial who they feel will be good for a TV role they are casting. I can tell you first hand as a casting director, I have had many television casting director friends ask me who is in such-and-such commercial.
For many years I went to improv shows to be entertained, laugh, and discover the work of clever, quick-thinking actors. I have always said, improv is important—it loosens you up, gets you ready to think fast on your feet, and strips away the self-censorship that blocks creativity.
There is More to Improv Than Being Funny
Improv is important to the art of acting itself. Improv enables you to open up the door to your creative power and is a conduit to better dramatic acting.
What do Hamilton and commercials have in common?
“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
No one really knows how the
Parties get to yesssss
The pieces that are sacrificed in
Ev’ry game of chesssss
For every part you audition for, you have to make choices to give personality to the character. It is a known fact that you can’t be “neutral” and give a good audition.
There are all kinds of conundrums associated with what choice to make. “Am I being too big, too small, too this or too that?” Bottom line is you have to make an intelligent choice in the venue you are working on, based on all your education and training. In commercials, there are many hints you can find in the copy regarding each character. In my Acting in Commercials workshops, I particularly teach how to apply backstories to your discoveries. Some information comes from the copy itself revealing the attitude of the character and relationships, some of which are obvious and some are not.
The big trap is the spokesperson copy.
Actors at work, focusing on what really matters
THE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON YOU HAVE GOING FOR YOU
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.
Happy New Year.
There are certain things I don’t write about because I think the information is too elementary, but throughout the year some recurring mistakes jolted me into thinking I should relay this information to you, so I decided to start out the year more cut-and-dry, relaying seven steps that can make a positive difference in your acting career.
1. Include a photo and resume in your e-mail communications.
When you are connecting with someone, whether it be a thank you, a question, or any kind of communication, include a photo, resume, or a link to your website. The most seamless way to do this is to have a website and include the link to your website after your name.
A casting director is only human and does not always remember exactly who you are. It can take up three times to remember.
2. Make your handwriting legible in your written communications.
I appreciate the time, thought, and business organizational skills it takes to write a thank you card. Many times I receive these cards and I cannot understand the talent’s signature. I don’t know who the heck I got the thank you from. Not a good situation.
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.
When I am a guest speaker, this question inevitably comes up: “Do you like self-submissions?”
This question doesn’t make sense to me, because if we (casting directors) put the breakdown out directly to actors, then of course we are expecting and looking forward to self-submissions. What I think the actor might really be asking is, how do we feel about getting a double submission both from the agent and talent?
If you want to submit, not knowing whether your agent submitted you, is a conversation between you and your agent. If I put a breakdown out to include self-submits, I understand and tolerate possible double submissions.
That said, what I can guide you on is how to send self-submissions that are “likeable.”
If a Note is Requested, Place a Note on Your Submission.
For instance, if we are looking for someone who does yoga very well and your entire resume is full of yoga, write a note on your submission about your yoga experience. We will be sure to look at your submission.
You can certainly apply the old adage, “The only constant is change,” to your everyday acting career. Change can cause surprise, upset, and agitation, or it can stimulate you and give you good “war stories.”
If you are more comfortable with predictability, then acting is probably not for you. Acting requires bravery. You can’t take a class, course, or workshop in how to deal with surprise. Recently, I was giving direction to a bunch of actors who were waiting to go into my casting call back session. Since the direction had changed from when the job first started, I gave my apologies. The seasoned actors I was speaking to had a good laugh and they said, “we love surprises.” It brought up an interesting conversation about actors loving the element of surprise.
These seasoned actors, well into their sixties, found the element of surprise a positive and not a negative. With glee, they were telling me many stories of surprises. They wore these stories as badges of courage. If you like surprises it will certainly make your acting life easier.