by Casting Director, Laurie Records
A multi part series for the not-so-established actor, hoping to improve their career.
Are you familiar with the bumper sticker QUESTION AUTHORITY that was on every Gen X activists’ car in the 90’s… or was that just a Seattle thing?Anyway.I think it is tempting for actors, when attending a commercial audition, to question every little thing that isn’t absolutely “the norm”.Often times, to their own detriment. And let’s be honest, what is the norm in a commercial audition?!? I would be hard pressed to come up with a definition.
Commercial actors should never “QUESTION AUTHORITY” when attending a commercial audition.
If there were 2 things that I could impress upon the commercial actor’s mind as absolutes, they would be:
1. Everyone (the casting director, associate, assistant, camera operator, session director- yup, EVERYONE) wants the best from the actor. Everyone has vested interest in the actor doing well at the audition. The casting team is never trying to sabotage you.
2. Nothing is certain in the commercial world of casting. Things change moment to moment. When you come to a commercial audition, count on the fact that something has changed… whether it is the sides, your role, the scenario… be pleasantly surprised if all is as you thought it would be.
With these 2 things in mind, an actor should be much more at ease and, therefore, far less tempted to question every little thing… which tends to happen a lot. I am officially and respectfully encouraging actors to back off questioning every detail. It is OK to ask questions, which is different. Try to read the posted information first, in case the answers are already there for you. But if you have thoroughly looked around and you can’t find the answers you need, go ahead and ask. The key here is once you are given an answer (which will most likely come from the lobby assistant or session director/camera operator) you should assume that the answer is correct and that they know what they are talking about, as if it were coming straight from the CD. That’s the hard part. Especially when the answer given isn’t consistent with the info you were given from your agent, or what you were anticipating.
Your agent, in a perfect world, has all the answers and the most up-to-date info, and they would have passed that “most up to date” info to you. In a perfect world a lot of things would be different… don’t get me started. So when you thought you were going to read for a certain role in the audition and you are being asked to do something else, don’t question authority. Go ahead and make it known that you came in for a different role, and when the assistant still has you doing something else, accept it. When your name cannot be found on the schedule for the time and role you were given, don’t make a scene. Of course casting should double check… but if you aren’t there, maybe you are a replacement, and your agent didn’t tell you. Maybe there was a communication breakdown, who knows?!? Just ask if it would be OK to be seen, and if it isn’t, then give your agent a call… but don’t question the authority of the assistant… there is something at play that you aren’t privy to, and the mystery will be solved, count on it.
The key to peace and harmony during a chaotic commercial casting call is that the actor is respectful at all times, no matter whom they are addressing and what the issue is. It is fine to ask questions, just try to avoid crossing into the realm of “questioning authority”.
Laurie Records, Casting Director