Synopsis by Tracy Weisert
One of my very favorite people and casting directors ever, Geralyn Flood, was our guest speaker at Casting Networks’ free member Inside the Industry Seminar March 29th.
Geralyn’s joy, love for actors and our industry shines through as does her humor and savvy for casting. She learned from the best! Here is her bio-
Geralyn Flood has worked on projects for ALL of the major networks in the industry: ABC, NBC, CBS, The CW, The WB, Disney, Nickelodeon, etc… Previous TV credits as Jeff Greenberg’ s Assistant include FRASIER, ACCORDING TO JIM , I’M WITH HER and the fabulous BABY BOB. During her 4 years at Zane/Pillsbury casting, some highlights include Casting Director on the Disney pilot, GOOD LUCK CHARLIE as well as being the Associate on the USA Network pilot, WHITE COLLAR and GARY UNMARRIED, as well as countless other unseen pilots. In addition to her TV credits, Geralyn has worked on indie and studio films including three Mark Waters features ( with Marci Liroff) – as an Assistant on JUST LIKE HEAVEN, an Associate on “THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES” and a full Casting Director on GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST with Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner. Geralyn was the Casting Director for BIG TIME RUSH for four seasons and just completed a pilot as co-CD with Marc Hirschfeld on a CBS pilot SAVE THE DATE and is also working on two independent features that shoot later this year.
When an actor asked about the quick turnaround of shooting a television show, Geralyn said, “It’s very short. It’s maybe four or five days. We would table read on a Wednesday for Big Time Rush, then we would start shooting the following Monday. Sometimes, I had a script before or, sometimes, I didn’t have the script until Thursday and then I would just mad cast Friday, then get the approvals and pray that they [the guest actors] didn’t start on Monday. We were single-cam (camera) and the ADs (Assistant Directors) were very kind and usually just have the series regulars on the Mondays, so we had a little time for wardrobe, closing deals, and stuff like that. I say that it is like waiting tables. Whereas if there is nobody here, you’re not doing anything. You’re filling the salt and pepper shakers, then the mad rush comes and then you’re in the weeds and (Geralyn sighed a big sigh of relief!)…then you’re done. It’s the highs and lows.”
Geralyn touched base on acting classes and the resource that actors can be to one another. She advised actors, “I think auditing is smart. Take advantage of all of that stuff. Ask the people at break time how long they have been with that person. If they are people who have just started, you don’t know what they’re like, but if someone has been going to this person or this studio for many years, ask what they’ve been getting out of it.”
She continued that thought with, “The beauty of Facebook, too, cannot be denied. I love that like, ‘Hey, what do you think about this?’ and you know, people love to give their opinion. [laughter] ‘LA people, what acting classes have you taken that you’ve loved?’ That sort of stuff comes up. I would go for that as well. That’s really important. It’s hard just moving to a new city—like finding a dry cleaner! [laughter] Finding someone to cut your hair and then like, ‘oh, now I have to find an acting class too? Oh crap.’ It’s just trial and error. Don’t worry if you don’t find something right away but take advantage and audit as many classes as you can. That’s smart. That’s being a good business person because you’re the business.”
Geralyn stated, “One piece of advice that I give actors and that I say constantly is, don’t worry about booking a job because a job will last one day or one week or if you’re lucky like How I Met Your Mother—nine years—but ‘a fan’ will last a lifetime. When I worked for Jeff Greenberg, we had a woman that would come in for a lot of the smaller roles but who was great, awesome, and fantastic. She always got great feedback on set…’She was delightful, lovely, blah, blah, blah…’ When Collin Daniel who is now at Greenstein/Daniel (Casting) went out on his own, he brought her in. She booked on one of his shows. When I went to work for Marci Liroff, I brought her in and she booked on one of our films. So now, in that one audition, she booked roles with other offices and now she is one of those people that we think of. I think that’s what you do. You do good work and that spreads out.”
Geralyn continued, “I just had this happen recently. A man came in for a one-line role. It’s small for the pilot and he was sort of making fun of the role. He was like, (sarcastically) ‘I mean, I don’t know what to do with this. There are so many choices. I really thought about it all last night…’ [audience cringing, then laughter] I went along with it, ‘Yeah, I guess, sure. There are a lot of choices…’ and I thought, ‘There are, I don’t know, sixty, seventy or eighty people that I can think of off the top of my head that would have loved to come in for this role, so you coming in with that attitude, it just makes me not want to bring you in again. And on top of that, if you’re being that kind of arrogant, you’d better be really good with your choice [laughter] and you’re already ‘coloring me’ about it and you have an even higher bar. Just be cool. I’m trying to do my job. You’re trying to do your job. Let’s have a good attitude about it. That sounds really dumb and so basic, but you would be surprised how many sort-of-surly people come in and I want to say, ‘Don’t be here. If you’re not having fun, don’t do it anymore. I love what I do.”
Actors with natural accents? Geralyn said, “I think that it is helpful for me, if you mention that they (the actor) have an accent. It doesn’t have to be, ‘Has an accent,’ but could be ‘Native speaker’ because people put ‘Fluent in Spanish’ and I’m assuming fluent in English but if you can say ‘Native speaker’ and I can see also that you’ve been doing theater in Argentina or wherever you’re from but that would help me to go, ‘Oh…potential for an accent. Let’s take the shot and see.’ At least, then, I’m informed whereas when people don’t have anything there (on their resume about having an accent) then come in and have a really thick accent, it’s not what I was ready for. You don’t want to disappoint the casting director.
“Acting is a muscle and you have to go to ‘the gym’ and you have to be well trained.”
“Don’t become too precious with your choices so that you’re not fluid.”
“Most casting directors have OCD. We are deeply organized. We are crazily organized.”
I know so many people that I have worked with that are my friends and we look at every single submission. I get anxious if I don’t look at every single submission. I don’t know any of my friends who are in casting that don’t look at every single submission, because maybe you’ve missed something. Maybe I need to look again. I mean, I get up early in the morning and look at the submissions then, so that I have the quiet. I have my coffee and I can focus. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone back through…through the course of just this pilot…. ‘Who did we miss? Is there someone I’m missing? What am I doing?’ It’s just in your mind, when, where was I, when I was doing this?’ so if I have to make a phone call or do a session, to go back to, ‘Where was I in the process?’ and say, ‘Oh these are new….’ and go back to the people again. There is such a fear of being missed and casting directors I know, the good ones, that I’ve learned from are obsessive and work really hard to make sure that we don’t miss anything because that’s our job.”
Geralyn said, “Have fun. 2013, for me, stunk! I don’t know about you guys but it was a terrible year, and I decided that 2014 was the year of being grateful. I mean, I worry about the water and drought that is going to come, but we live in a great city…aside from the weird earthquake last night. [laughter] You know what we do, we’re following our passion, which is more than probably our parents did. I’m sounding super-duper, artsy-fartsy, but I think if you just keep coming in with a positive attitude, making that choice to be happy and realize that what we do is hard. It’s really hard but the rewards are so great, even in the simple things of getting to meet awesome people, reading great scripts, and feeling a part of being creative. I mean, Tracy was so sweet when we talked the other day and when you had booked the role on Tosh.0 that you were so happy and it was such a lovely, positive thing. I said, ‘Great! Good for you!’ Let’s all go out there! Yeah!’ I think having that attitude…it sounds so dumb but really just making that choice to be happy. It sounds like such a stupid thing but it’s a good reminder to talk to Tracy…” and then Geralyn sited two more of our mutual friends’ cheerful attitudes, continuing, “Oh right! We do this because we love it! Right now, we’re not making the millions, so just remind ourselves that we do it because we love it.”
Geralyn went to say, “Throughout the pilot season, I’d be calling these agents and managers and they’d ask, ‘How are you doing? Are you hanging in there?’ I’d say, ‘I’m great. I’m awesome! I’m happy to be here. Let’s do this.’ [laughter] So then they were like, ‘Oh my God! That’s so nice to hear!’ I’d say, ‘Great! Pass it along, man!’ It sounds so corny but we’re all lucky. We’re lucky to be here. We’re lucky to be doing this and to have something to be passionate about. There are plenty of people who don’t. It’s hard but it’s great!”
Additionally, I had so many positive responses from actors when Geralyn spoke two years ago to her “last words of wisdom” then, so I thought I would include them here too. Geralyn spoke about just being a good & consistently good actor, “As I say to my brother-in-law who is an actor, you have to be in it, to win it. Keep pulling that slot machine, keep pulling that slot machine and you’ll hit it. That’s what it’s all about.”
In closing, Geralyn said, “Thank you so much for listening to me babble. My biggest advice is this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You all know that. Take breaths. Realize you know that if this is what you want to do, then you need to sort of keep your head down and keep working. You’re going to hit a lot of obstacles but you need to keep your head down and keep moving. Keep working on your craft. Yes, it is called show business, but you guys are artists, and as artists you need to work on your craft. You need to feed your soul, so remember to feed your soul. That’s the biggest thing! Have a life! Don’t make acting all you do and all that you are, because then that is so boring when you come into audition. Be a great sister, husband, brother, aunt, go on trips, read books…I say to actors when they come in, ‘What’s new and exciting?’ That’s the question I ask them and if they say to me, ‘Well, I booked a commercial and I’m on hold for this national…’ I say, ‘Oh great. I’m happy for you….’ But if they go, ‘I just came back from this crazy family reunion! Oh my God, my family’s insane! It was in Colorado…’ then I go (excitedly) ‘How was it crazy??’ Then I remember you…oh great, they’re funny and I can remember you better as a person not just as an actor. I just think that so much of this business and where we live, you can get caught up in the industry and I think for your own safety and in your own soul, I’ve learned this, you need to have people who are not in the industry or who get it and are just like, ‘I’m so sorry to hear that. Anyway, what are you making for dinner?’ [laughter] That will keep you whole and sane.”
Thank you Geralyn for a delightful seminar!