by Casting Director, Laurie Records
A multi-part series for the not-so-established actor hoping to improve their career.
When making a commercial, the “powers that be” want to get it done, and done well. The job of casting the actors comes very early in the process. Everyone is interested in finding the right actor for each role. There is a treatment written by the director for every commercial, and a sentiment that is often expressed, is that casting will be key to the success of the project. This makes sense. If you have a great concept, location, director and crew and equipment, but terrible actors… the commercial is likely to be terrible.
With this in mind, it isn’t a stretch to say that production wants YOU to be right for the role. They want you to fit, have the right look, chemistry, acting chops… whatever the case may be, whatever they are looking for, they want you to have it. When the actors have been booked, a major line can be checked off the “to do list” for making a commercial!
With that in mind…
Commercial actors should never forget that casting/production wants YOU to be right for the role and any requests that are made of you, are only to further that cause.
You may show up to a first call, decked out in what you feel is the appropriate wardrobe, have the perfect look and are as prepared as you can be. The assistant or casting director then asks you to comb your hair differently, take off your suit jacket… basically alter your appearance that you felt was so perfect! Why would they ask you to do that? To make you more appropriate for the role and to increase your chances of being cast! The specs may have changed… who knows the reason, but casting is not trying to steer you wrong! Follow their instructions as fully as possible. They want YOU to be right for the role.
When callback time comes around requests/suggestions coming from casting take on an even bigger importance. Obviously, callbacks are inherently more important, because production is definitely interested in you… and all suggestions at this point are coming straight from the producers/director, to casting… to you. Follow them with diligence. Don’t second guess. No matter how strange. Remember, they want YOU to be right for the role. The best example I can give is: You have been to a callback, and you get a call from your agent saying that production has requested more photos of you. The photos need to be a less glamorous version of you, more plain, no makeup, just plain Jane digital photos. PLAIN. Now, if you have heard the same theories that I have… production always wants their talent to be good looking, even if they say they want “real people”. Ignore the theories you have heard and follow directions. Production is trying to convince the client that you are right for the role. You can guess that the client thinks you are too attractive… too whatever! Just make sure you give them exactly what they asked for. Time is precious and they asked for a reason. A good reason.
Never let your ego get in the way of taking a suggestion or giving requested material exactly as production has asked for it.
Preconceived notions cannot get in the way either. It isn’t up to you to make sense of the request, your job is to give production what they need. If you always want to know the “why” or be “in the know”, you are in the wrong profession. The goal is to hire YOU. Remember, after a callback, production still has to convince the client that you are right. If they are asking for something, it is to aid in making their case! Do it exactly as they have asked and you just may book the role. If you don’t, you won’t. That is for sure.
Laurie Records, Casting Director