The Competitive Edge: One Surprising Element That Can Calm Your Nerves

The Competitive Edge: One Surprising Element That Can Calm Your Nerves

I’m going to start out with ways to calm your nerves that you have all heard before. One element that can get rid of your jitters, and can calm your nerves is certainly knowing your technique. In addition, understanding the venue you are working in, including who the players are. In addition understanding the selection process and the booking process will also give you more of a comfort level, and certainly we can add getting familiar with the casting community…. And let’s not forget being good at improv.

The one element that can calm your nerves that I’ve never heard been talked about before is Understanding similarities between a casting job and an acting job.

I think you’ll be surprised at the similarities that casting folks and actors go through. If you really understand that casting directors are in many ways the same as you, the actor, I believe you can come into an audition room feeling less nervous and more on an equal footing.

Lets look at some similarities that may surprise you. The title of the situation is the same, although there are variations in the details. This list could very well be the day in an actor’s life, but no….. it is the day of a casting director’s life. Hopefully you will come away saying “what, you go through that too?????#####”

Not knowing at all what that day will bring.
The day of a casting director starts with waking up and not knowing what the day will bring. We can have no job at all and the day can continue like that, or the e mail will come in with a heads up about a casting coming in. We may first be asked for an estimate for our client to figure out a budget to be able to award the job, or the job can be awarded right then and there with the client telling us how much they have for casting.

The Need to be flexible: Many things can change along the way, like the shoot and call back dates; casting days and characters can also change. We start the job and ride the wave of changes.

Fees Not As High As They Used To Be: Sometimes the casting director gets their full quoted rate (you can look at that in actor speak as scale), and sometimes the client tells us a lower rate they have for the casting budget. We either take the job or leave it….and someone else gets the job.

Sometimes having to travel for work: Many of us are housed out of one particular casting studio that is close to where we live and have a comfortable working relationship with. Sometimes a client tells us what part of town they want their call backs to take place that is convenience for them. We go! Yes, it is what is convenient for the client, and not us.

Are the situations sounding familiar? Here’s some more.

Nerves kick in: Every time we start a casting session we are nervous. Some things that make us nervous are that our early morning talent will not show up on time to get us started. Yes, there has been a few times that no one shows up for an entire half hour. That means we don’t have enough people for that character to present to our client. That can’t happen. This is not a dress rehearsal. We have no second chances. I quickly have to get more people in at the end of the day.

Nerves also kick in with us counting on talent to look like their photos and demo reels and doing a good acting job with the particular script. We are only as good as the talent we bring in.

Book a trip/book a job. Why is it whenever any of us book a trip or book out for any reason, a job comes in?

Trouble collecting copies of the spots: We would love to have a copy of the spot for our reels and archives. We are told the spot cannot be released until it is finished with it’s run.

Getting no answers. Many months after we are well aware the spot has stopped running, we contact the producer again for a copy of the spot, and the producer will not answer our e mails or calls. The client disappears until the next time they need us.

I am hoping you have read this list and are saying “that could my list as an actor”. I am a firm believer that feeling more familiar with a situation can help you feel more connected and comfortable, hence, a better audition. I hope understanding our similarities will bring a smile to your face and an “ah ha” moment that will bring a lighthearted feeling with you to your next audition.


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Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voiceover, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has contributed to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development, and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”

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