by Casting Director, Laurie Records
There are plenty of different scenarios common in commercial auditions. If you watch commercials (and you SHOULD if you have the hope of achieving any success), you can probably list the regular situations. If you are a mom type, a dad type, or an all-American kid type, you already know that families are one of the more common groups represented and requested in commercials. You see families in all sorts of food/restaurant ads, as well as insurance, phone (family plans, hello!) and car (ah, the minivan or SUV isn’t complete without the family) ads. They are everywhere. The family audition is a common one… and one that has special rules to adhere to.
Commercial actors should never fail understand the art of the “family” audition.
You will never hear me say that you should go to an audition whenever it’s convenient for you. You also won’t hear me say it’s cool to be a perpetual asker-for-timeframes type. But these typical “don’t do’s” become “absolutely not’s” when you join the ranks of the mom/dad/kid family realm. So how do you know if you are being matched up with a big ‘ole family? A little detective work may be in order.
Signs you are being matched with a family:
- The boards indicate a family. Sometimes the casting director posts the sides for the talent to view. They may or may not include copy. But they always show the action of the spot and the other folks that will be joining you in your scene.
- The casting director indicates in the notes with your audition time that you have been (painstakingly) matched up with a family. Well, then, you have been. You read those notes diligently, don’t you?
- Your role is labeled MOM, DAD, SON, DAUGHTER. If you weren’t being matched they would likely be labeled WOMAN, MAN, KID, BOY, GIRL…catch my drift?
When you believe you are being seen as a family in an audition… how do you behave differently? Well, in the perfect commercial world you wouldn’t do anything different. But I live in the real world and so do you, so let’s speak plainly.
You arrive at the appointment time. Exactly. And you are prepared to wait. Longer than usual, perhaps. Two simple, but strong, suggestions. Why? Because you want a callback and because you want to book the job. That’s the main reason you attend commercial auditions, correct? Then make sure you haven’t wasted your time and everyone else’s.
Arrive on time. Arriving early to a “family” audition is just as detrimental as arriving late. If you are early, wait in your car or go get a cup of coffee. The goal is to arrive at your appointment time so that you will be seen with your perfect fake family. You *want* to be seen with that perfect fake family, because if it truly is… it’s the easiest callback ever. Trust me.
Be prepared to wait. I always advise actors to be prepared to be at an audition for one hour. I hear rumors that actors know this to be the industry standard, but it hasn’t been my personal experience in the lobby. Actors want to get in and out. Most of the time their impatience is to their own detriment. You made the effort to dress the part, memorize a line or two, get in your vehicle and brave the freeway to get to the audition location…don’t shoot yourself in the foot by being impatient in the lobby. Wait to be seen with the people you are meant to be seen with. Being placed in a random group because you are itching to get on with your day is not helpful—to you or the casting director.
Often times I’m asked how much other “scene” partners play into the success of an actor’s commercial audition. I believe it is more than possible that you can get a callback when you have had a lousy partner. So take heart. A less than stellar partner in a commercial audition doesn’t spell disaster. BUT… I believe in a family setup, your scene partners play a bigger role in you getting a callback or not. More so than any other audition scenario.
In short, you want to be seen with the family you were meant to be seen with. Arrive on time. Be patient. Your fate, like it or not, is at least somewhat in the hands of your co-horts in this scenario.
And my last addition to “the art of the family audition”… wear mom clothes, dad clothes, or regular kid clothes. This isn’t (usually) the time to be ultra fashionable. Not the time to look “hot” or super “LA.” Read the wardrobe notes. If looking like a mom/dad isn’t the norm in your fabulous LA life… that’s more than cool. But make sure you can look the part when you have a family audition, so that you can book the part.
Laurie Records, Casting Director