We all make mistakes. This isn’t news to anyone. But it’s discouraging to make mistakes when you aren’t even aware you’ve made them… in the moment or long after the action is done. Here’s a sprinkling of the ones I’ve witnessed recently:
Commercial actors should never make the big and small goofs I’ve witnessed over the last several months.
Let’s start with a biggie. I feel like a whole heck of a lot of actors left town too early for the holidays this year. I’ve boldly written that actors shouldn’t go home for the holidays and I’m happy to stand by that statement, but the truth is you can absolutely jet out of town without missing many if any commercial opportunities if you simply leave later. When is it safe to leave? It differs every year, but I would say you can get the ticket or gas up the car on the 23rd or the 24th of December and plan to be back shortly after the new year. December is typically a VERY busy month for commercials. Would you like to be in a Super Bowl commercial? Be given some of the Ad Agency money they are trying to burn though before the new year/new budget is set? You do, trust me—and December is the month this happens. Pay a little more for the plane tickets and leave later if you want to take advantage of more auditions with a smaller casting pool to draw from. If you have had a great year and want to take the month of December off, more power to you. As long as it’s an informed decision, I am in complete support.
Let’s lighten up with a small/silly one. Calling a casting director. I wouldn’t do it. Not at the office, not on their cell, unless you were specifically given the ok to do so. So when you find it on their website after doing some research… keep looking for an email address. And for the love of Pete, don’t randomly text a casting director an update on the last thing you booked or the show you are in, just to stay in touch. Bad idea. Calling or texting a casting director isn’t the method to use to communicate.
I’m a broken record when it comes to the commercial resume. Make sure it’s accurate, up-to-date, and 100% honest. But here are a few specific flubs: Every (or almost every) skill box is checked. Commercial casting directors are often times looking for actors with specific skills. Casting Networks gives you the opportunity to check the boxes of skills you possess and at what level of expertise you can perform them. Gosh, that’s easy. But I think some actors can get click happy in this process. If your resume says you can do almost every sport imaginable, deliver copy in every dialect I’ve ever heard of and are an expert in every form of dance ever given a name… I’m going to assume you are embellishing dramatically (lying). Even if I’m only looking for basketball skills, if your resume is flooded with every skill known to man, I’m going to doubt you. It’s hard to tell which skill you really have and which you’ve done once. So I’ll call in an actor where it’s clear. Don’t check every box. Take advantage of the portion of the resume where you can write in to brag (really, it’s ok) specifically about what you can do and how long you’ve been doing it. And only list the skills you REALLY have. Another resume item: Be specific about improv. Improv is the coolest thing out there and casting directors are asked to bring in brilliant improv actors all the time. Don’t just check a few boxes. Make sure your resume includes which school you are studying at, what level you have completed/are currently enrolled, names of teachers (perhaps) and/or the troupe you are performing regularly with. BRAG specifically. If I see improv, short form, long form, and second city on a resume, I can easily assume you took a one-day Saturday master class, which doesn’t cut it. In addition to improv classes, are you taking one of the hottest classes in town? Name it! Yes, this is absolutely true and appropriate for the commercial resume.
And last but not least, when you cross paths with a casting director outside of the studio, and you have a little pleasant conversation ending with the casting director asking you to remind them of your name… make sure you give your first and last name. The casting director is asking so that they can look you up/call you in/remember you. There isn’t much they can do with “Sarah.” This also goes with email correspondence. Always use your first and last name.
With that being said… Here’s to a terrific 2015 where knowledge is power and commitment to your craft is noticed and appreciated.