by Casting Director, Laurie Records
A multi-part series for the not-so-established actor hoping to improve their career.
I was recently going over some old emails from Commercial Producers, and I came across an angry… a very angry email from a Producer to a Talent Agent that I was copied on. This email was sent years ago, and yet I have never forgotten it. In efforts to keep your Agent from ever getting an email like that one about YOU and your actions on set, I share…
Commercial actors should never act less than professionally on set.
Whether it is a huge national campaign you just booked, or an obscure commercial with an India-only run, booking a commercial is a trick and you should be congratulated and feel good. You were chosen over a lot of actors and you obviously have something special. You are going to make some cash doing what you love to do, and hopefully and likely, the Director of the job will request you to come in again for future projects, if all goes very well!
The last thing on earth you want to do is be a jerk on set, either out of arrogance or ignorance. If there is one ounce of doubt in your mind about whether or not it is kosher to do something…don’t. Play it conservative and safe. Listen to your inner voice. If your inner voice is telling you that you are the star for the day and should be treated as such, ignore the voice. You, the hired talent of the commercial being shot, are important, but you aren’t Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie. Don’t act as if you are. Enjoy your nice treatment and don’t be a diva.
Would you like to know what this particular Producer was upset with? I don’t make this up. First of all, apparently the talent was being fitted on set the morning of the shoot. Not ideal, so obviously things are stressful from the get-go. This talent wasn’t wearing any underwear. Folks, know when you have a wardrobe fitting you are trying on lots of clothes, new clothes, that will be returned if not chosen for the shoot. Enough said. Let’s chalk that up to ignorance.
Next, the talent invited his/her (I am trying to protect the one we are learning from) friends to set, aka entourage. It isn’t your set. Don’t invite your friends to come hang with you. You are not that cool.
Finally, the talent didn’t know or didn’t respect protocol. You have to know who the players are on a set. This may seem archaic, but don’t speak to the Clients or go into their “area” without being invited to do so. If you don’t know who the players are, play it safe and keep your mouth shut. You can’t just invite yourself to talk with the big dogs.
In the end, you need to remember that the shoot day is very important, very stressful, and very expensive. You don’t want to slow the process or ruffle feathers in any way! Be on your best behavior. You are there to work. Always pay attention, listen to instructions, don’t make them call you or have to explain things twice, if at all possible. Picture the halo around your head and become Saint Actor. That will get you booked on another job and back on set far quicker as a best behaved actor than an arrogant attitude actor. Think of being polite and professional and you will shine every time!
Laurie Records, Casting Director