Synopsis by Tracy Weisert
Since Casting Networks has branched out and become known beyond commercial casting, I have been very bold and have asked some of my very favorite theatrical casting directors over the years to be our Inside the Industry seminar guest speakers. When they tell me “yes,” I am thrilled and filled with joy!!
Such was the case with Big Time Rush’s casting director Geralyn Flood who was our guest speaker at our free Casting Networks member seminar June 30th. I had known Geralyn from cold reading workshops many years ago and have watched her continued success in casting. Geralyn was and still is one of the most delightful and down-to-earth casting directors there is! 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. She is currently the Casting Director for a popular children’s television show in its’ third season, and is also working on two independent features that shoot late this summer and in the fall.
Geralyn began by introducing herself, “I’m Geralyn. I’ve been in casting… ten years now? I’m looking at Tracy like she knows! Yes, about ten years. My first job was working on Fraiser which was amazing and I thought all TV shows were like that. [laughter] What? All shows don’t get sushi…regularly? Buy all your meals and all that stuff? Amazing! I was wrong! So I started with Jeff Greenberg and worked with him for two years, then I went to work with Marci Liroff who does features and I worked with her on and off for about five years and when I wasn’t working for Marci, I worked with Zane/Pillsbury doing a multitude of TV shows there…. a lot of pilots that no one has ever seen but that were really awesome! Some of the shows that did make it to air were White Collar. I worked on the pilot. The pilot was cast here in LA, then they shot in New York. I worked on that which was super fun… Matt Bomer… [Swoon and laughter] The Sarah Connor Chronicles I helped out on. I worked on the pilot ofGary Unmarried. Lots of things.”
Here are some seminar highlights-
Geralyn had six actors of various ages and skill levels paired up to come up on the stage to read with sides she brought. Everyone did very well in front of the packed room of their actor peers. Geralyn’s input to the actors afterward was very helpful. To one she said, “I love that you made the choices to move around but if I were taping that, it would have been really hard to capture you because you were moving so much. So if you can just keep that in mind when you’re acting for television and I’m video taping you, you kind of want to stay in a little box around yourself. Look out and do all that stuff but don’t cross too much especially when you have another person involved. Sometimes they’ll tell you how far you can go but just stay grounded then they will be able to hear your words and won’t be focused on where you’re going.”
An actor asked how much diversity played a role in Geralyn’s casting. She said, “It is absolutely imperative. It’s crucial to create a world that is realistic… absolutely. I mean like to the point where on Big Time Rush, there are three girls who play Jennifer. Originally they were ‘blonde & blue eyed’ because they all go out for the same roles and I said to the Executive Producer and to Nickelodeon, ‘Can’t we make them diverse, because that’s my world that I see everybody. Can we do that?’ He said, ‘Great idea. Yeah awesome!’ So we have one woman who is African-American, one woman’s Latino and one woman who is blonde and blue eyed because that’s the world we go in and I do feel that the best person gets the job. I see everybody. Like when I did ABC Family and there will be a couple. I didn’t have just have an African- American couple or Caucasian couple because everybody is married to everybody. ‘Oh they look like they fit together, great!’ They do that on the ABC Family promos too. They like that. We’ve had that a lot of times and the best person gets the job.”
Headshots? “I want to see you… that’s the biggest thing. There are a lot of photos out there where the people are airbrushed, have their make-up done, look gorgeous and fabulous but I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what’sin there. I don’t know what’s going on. You’re projecting something that youthink you want me to see unless that’s who you are… ‘I’m fabulous!’ ‘Great! That’s awesome!’ [laughter] …getting your essence. I say, for women, it should always be the make-up that you put on in the rearview mirror of the car on the way to the audition [laughter] because look, how many times has that happened to you? You’ve just come from the gym, you’re sweaty, you’re disgusting and your agent calls you like… ‘It’s a national commercial or whatever it is and they want to see you in two hours…’ You’re like, ‘Crap!’ You’re showering, you’re air blowing your hair with the windows down… not that I’ve ever done that… [laughter] That’s what I want to see. I want to see that part of you. I want to see that essence of who you are and what you think you go out for. Don’t make yourself glamorous if you’re not that gal. There is an essence in all of us is just who we are. Like I am never going to be Angelina Jolie. I am okay with that! I’m the quirky best friend. That’s cool. That’s who I am in that world if I had to typecast myself. Just knowing who you are and bringing that to it.”
Agents? “Just find the one that believes in you and that will make it work. I worked on Fraiser and David Hyde Pierce is with the same agent that he has been with since he started on Fraiser. He didn’t move on to CAA or move up and do all that stuff. I think that’s awesome. I think if you have someone who believes in you and has gotten you the original work, that keeps working, why wouldn’t you stick with that person? Yeah… these were the people who believed in you when you weren’t doing anything and now you’re famous and you’re going to dump them? It’s kind of crappy… to me.”
“No agent or manager should take any money up front or in advance or should recommend that you use only their photographer.”
With self taped submissions- “Make sure that your camera is up high, so you’re not looking down with a plain background and not a big file. Have somebody help you. Find a tech savvy friend and make them dinner.”
When auditioning- “Ask yourself, how would I say this not how do they (casting) want it?’
“The biggest thing I can impart is just breathe! Also, if you’re not having a good time, we’re not either.”
“For me, what I respond to is real, present and grounded actors.”
“Don’t push for the laugh in comedy.”
Another actor asked how much influence a casting director has with their Producers in casting a role. Geralyn remarked, “The people who I bring to read for one Producer may not be the same people I bring to the other one. Sometimes there is crossover but ultimately, it is the Producer or Executive Producer or the Director who has the final say. So I might narrow it down to ‘These are the 3 or 5 people that I love that I think are great. I love this person best… but however you want to do it…’ Sometimes they’ll say, ‘Great!’ and sometimes they’ll say, ‘No, I like this other guy.’ So I have some control but not total.”
When a darling younger actor asked, “Does your hair matter when you go in on auditions?” Geralyn had a great response. She answered, “What I always say for people who have curly hair like me, if you straighten it or do other stuff to it… when you get your photos done, have your hair however you wear it most of the time, like for me, I wear my hair curly. That’s it but I have had it straightened… it’s totally weird. I don’t like it but I have had it done, so I would have that headshot on the other side on my resume side to show me with straight hair. It doesn’t matter because they have hair and make-up people who can do whatever they want… they can put you in a wig… or the magic of all that stuff!”
Geralyn had some good points when the father of a 12-year-old daughter/actress stated that she was at a bit of an awkward age casting-wise. Geralyn responded with, “It depends on the kid. If that 12-year-old is going through a growth spurt where she is not the little 10-year-old girl and she’s not quite a teenager yet, just give her another year and she’ll be in that teenager zone you know literally. Then there is a girl on Pretty Little Liars who is, I think, now 17 but she has looked the way she does now since she was 12. She looked like a 16-year-old, beautiful young woman at 12. I brought her in forGhost of Girlfriends Past and she was great but there was no way you would believe that she was 12, so it’s that sort of, where is she in the world? Now she found a role that she is perfect for and she’s great on it but finding that sweet spot is hard.”
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.”
Geralyn loves casting and loves actors. What more could we ask for? Thank you, Geralyn!!!