Working With The Camera

More often than not, you'll be auditioning in front of a locked-down video camera. Locked-down means that the camera sits on a tripod and doesn't physically move around. (Tracking or handheld camera work at auditions is pretty rare.) For the sake of keeping things simple, the camera generally sits in the same place, shooting from the same angle all day. Often the camera operator will zoom in or zoom out to simulate camera work that may happen during actual filming, but that's about it for...

Is There A Surprise In There

You've probably read for, or played a part where the script was saying one thing, but you were really playing against it. This dichotomy, this opposition of word and action, can lead to some really interesting drama or comedy, and it often appears in commercials, usually as a reveal. For instance, there's a commercial running these days that features a nice guy in his late thirties who's pictured in scene after scene enjoying the trappings of a really nice lifestyle. Each time we see him, he...

Does It Make A Difference What Time You Audition

Actors get concerned about the time that they're scheduled to audition during the course of the day. Is it better to be there early in the process At the end What if the agency's already made a decision and they're just going through the motions Because you don't have any control over the timing of your call, you shouldn't let it be a huge concern for you. Do everything you normally do to prepare. However, there are two situations to consider. First, if you read early in the session, everybody...

The Casting Process

Compared to other casting situations, the short production time frame and the fact that commercials are designed to sell something make a big difference in casting criteria and decision making. The ad agency gets stressed out because casting problems can cause delays and delays cost money. Bottom line, the agency is always focused on what we are trying to sell, and our decisions are based on what the spot is trying to achieve. How we do this is a demonstration of all those important DNA...

Choosing A Director

The agency producer's first order of business is to choose a director whose style is best suited to shoot the commercial. This, along with the producer's knowledge of a director's abilities and track record, will be the basis for her recommendations to the art director and copywriter, and, ultimately, the agency brass and the client. The producer will review lots and lots of director's show reels, and, in the process, weed out those whose style or ability doesn't fit, and, at the same time,...

The Difference Between The Initial Call And A Callback

The initial call (or first call) is one step up from a cattle call. If you're a newbie or the casting director doesn't know you, and the part is a nonspeaking role, sometimes, your audition may be a taped interview with the casting director. Longtime Los Angeles casting director Susie Kittleson advises actors to beware of a little chat like this. This isn't a casual interview it's actually an audition. While she's asking questions and getting to know you, she'll also be checking you out to see...

We Must Trust That You Are a Professional

Talent who appear on the initial call tape who are prepared and ready to go to work are the people who stand out from the crowd. There's an air about true professionals they seem to be in complete control, yet so loose at the same time. It's immediately apparent that they've done their homework and that they're comfortable in the situation. When we see that, our comfort level instantly moves into the warm zone. The best example of an actor who is the total professional is Hector Elizondo. In...

Megaphone

Ladies and gentlemen, it's the moment you've been waiting for Yes, it's the MegaPhone commercial Complete with script and storyboard. You didn't think we'd go to all this trouble discussing the creation of a MegaPhone ad without actually seeing it in the flesh, did you No way. The purpose of putting the MegaPhone script together with its companion storyboard is, first, to create an opportunity to see how a board can clarify and illuminate sketchy action and directions written in a script. And,...

Puns In Commercials

Two boll weevils grew up in South Carolina. One went to Hollywood and became a famous actor. The other stayed behind in the cotton fields and never amounted to much. Naturally, he became known as the lesser of two weevils. Ever since the dawn of advertising, even before the Egyptians began using hieroglyphics with subliminal messages, puns have been used as a creative staple. Puns are everywhere in advertising, mostly because they're such an easy, low-rent way of conveying an idea. Some...

The Creative Process

One day, after a powwow with the MegaPhone director of marketing, the suits tell the creative director that the client wants to air a thirty-second TV spot. Now, you can't just go off willy-nilly and dream up a TV spot. It has to be built on a strong foundation. So, the first thing the two camps at the agency do is get together and hammer out two important documents that will provide the basis for the advertising and the guidelines for its execution. They are a strategy statement, which lays...

Punch Lines

DOCTOR I've got good news and bad news. First the bad.You've got two months to live. PATIENT Gulp What's the good news DOCTOR I just saved a bundle on my car insurance with InsuraCo. Oh my. This old chestnut of a joke with the punch line cleaned up and turned into a product endorsement was actually used as the basis for a recent commercial in a loan company's campaign. It's here to illustrate that, no matter how lame the joke, it still needs to be treated with the reverence any comic piece...

Congratulations You Got the Part

All of your hard work is about to be paid off with one of the coolest, most fascinating, difficult, nerve-wracking, fun experiences you could ever have. The best advice I can pass along from working actors is to get a good night's sleep. The day starts early and goes on forever. Every commercial shoot takes on a life of its own, so I'm not going to take up much space here attempting to describe all the nuances. Besides, this is a book about auditioning, and hopefully...