Synopsis by Tracy Weisert
What a great early holiday gift we all received when delightful casting director Megan Foley was our guest speaker December 10th.
Megan was one of the first casting directors I met when I “took the leap” to Hollywood almost 15 years ago. When our seminar began, what struck me immediately is that Megan has moved forward with all the many changes our industry has seen, yet Megan’s love, passion and enthusiasm for actors and casting has not diminished over the years. It was very refreshing! (Her easygoing manner and laughter was also enjoyable!)
Here is Megan’s bio-
Megan Foley began casting in Los Angeles since 1987. Chuck Marra joined her shortly after that. Megan Foley Casting has cast over 3000 commercials including the American Express spots with Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Reiser’s AT&T spots, McDonald’s, Delta Airlines, Tostitos, Lowe’s, Budweiser, Chevrolet, Chrysler and MCI. She also casts Television and Feature Films (although commercials are Megan’s true love). They take time on the weekends to teach the Megan Foley Casting Commercial Intensive.
Right away, Megan jumped into questions and answers because she wanted to have plenty of time for several actors to get up on stage in a mock audition or work session. It was very enlightening to see Megan at work giving redirects and how actors listened and made those adjustments.
First, when an actor asked about specific types or ethnicities for roles when she is auditioning actors, Megan answered, “Many times, we have women in roles that were supposed to be men’s roles, we have African Americans in roles that were supposed to be Caucasian roles. I am always looking for the best performance. The only time that really changes is when we’re mixing a family and they are going to be really specific about the fact that they have to be all the same ethnicity even though we know that a lot American families are notthat anymore, we still have to follow their specs. If it’s just ‘general’ people that we’re looking at to do things, yes. I am always looking for the performance. I always tell my directors to cast the performance, not the type.”
When asked about postcards from actors, Megan said, “Postcards are great. Thank you cards are always nice too but postcards are the best! They are cheap and you can personalize them. Postcards and headshots are fine. At least for me, don’t spend a lot of time on your letter trying to be super, super clever. Oh god… I crippled myself for about a year when I first started acting, trying to get the perfect letter. [laughter] Has anybody else gone through that???? You know what happens to those letters? At least in my office, they get torn off, your picture gets in a pile and your letter goes away. My assistant reads the letter and if there is anything in there like ‘I knew you in high school’ then they’ll say, ‘Did you know this person in high school?’ …like I remember back that far….I don’t know what other people are saying but I’m just saying, for me, I just crippled myself.”
Megan continued, “We can find all these excuses to not do what we’re supposed to be doing. I’m really about doing what we intend to set out to do.”
“It’s about your personality and who [the photographer] you click with. You can go out and spend really big money on headshots and not get great headshots because you don’t have any chemistry with the person that’s shooting. With everybody, but that’s especially true with kids. If they don’t have any chemistry with the photographer, they’re not going to light up. You need to have time for them to warm up. You all know this. A lot of times you get your best headshots at the end of the session. The best headshot I ever got was as I was walking out of the photographer’s room and he said, ‘Wait! Hold on just a second and just turn around.’ I got the picture right outside of his place and it was the best headshot I’ll probably ever have. Go figure!”
- “I look for you to own the audition and people to come in and give meyour gift.”
- “Get active in your union.”
- “With headshots, it’s not what your Mom would pick. It’s your ‘advertising card.’ Also, people hide all these things in their headshots that I might need.”
- “Resumes are highly important. I teach all over the country and I know places in Kansas.” Megan also mentioned as an example when putting languages you speak under Special Skills, if you say you speak German, “I don’t want ‘restaunt’ German.”
- Actors not knowing their lines.
- Actors being needy.
With auditions, Megan said, “Make really good notes about what you wore and who you met. Wear the same clothes to the callback. I know it’s stupid but the agency always goes ‘Why did they always wear the same clothes?’ And I would say, ‘Because when you came in wearing a yellow shirt on Tuesday and now you’re back in a blue shirt on Thursday, they don’t recognize you and they go, ‘Where’s the guy in the yellow shirt?’. So it’s for your own good. Wear the same clothes.”
Megan closed with, “Be yourself. Have fun. Don’t try to second guess what I want. Come in and bring your gift. That’s what I want. That’s what I want! I want your gift! I’m bringing you there as part of the collaboration. I need younot to walk in and just act like you have nothing. You’re not part of the collaboration if you do that.”
I also LOVED what Megan said in her previous Casting Networks seminar and feel the information she shared is still very valuable and pertinent, so I am including it here as well.
Our November 17 Industry Seminar started out like no other with Megan Foley handing out business cards to all attendees that read:
LIVE YOUR DREAM.
In my opinion, for the 10 years I have known her, Megan Foley has been one of our best “actors’ advocates” in Los Angeles. She is warm, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable and happens to be married to a professional actor!
A former professional actor herself, Megan told us that her very first commercial was at the age of nineteen. Laughing she told us, “I had really great hair and it was a shampoo commercial!” Regarding her own acting career and agent she added, “Don’t have pictures you don’t like. You are the owner of your business. And I let them run my business.” Megan encouraged the actors in the room totake charge of their careers. Megan also said that any on set experience is invaluable no matter the capacity.
Megan told us a great story about how her husband Chuck was Johnny Depp’s stand-in on a film for a family friend, Ted Demme, who was also working along side Depp, Ray Liotta, Rachel Weisz and Penelope Cruz:
“You can either be on the set as an extra that sits there going ‘Whoa! Now I’m in 15 minutes overtime… I get my extra bumps… (Audience laughs) …Now I get sock bumps and shoe bumps… or you can be the kind of extra that is there andwatching and being active. If you want to be that kind of extra, I say anyopportunity you get to do is fabulous! It’s FABULOUS!”
Megan also said, ‘Your acting doesn’t get ‘cheaper’ if you’re an extra or a principal. You’re an actor.’ Megan added “I am a big believer in the field or business you want to work in.”
ON SUBMISSIONS and AUDITIONING-
- “My job is to look at your resume and figure out if you can do that” [the role].
- “I look at training a lot”
- “You need to concentrate on what you can bring to the party”
- “LISTEN” As the actor, I can’t hear direction when I’m talking to myself”
- “Don’t go with your first choice. Everybody else will do that”
- “Slating is so vitally important to your character. These days we’re watching everything on DVD’s now, so we don’t fast forward on tapeanymore”
- “Improv is vital for every actor”
About SELF-SABOTAGE & BOOKING THE JOB-
“You will win the race not by miles but by tenths of a second, just like the Olympics, you know? People are not way out behind. It’s about who is still standing at the end of the day who books the job. Do you know what I mean? It’s all the little stuff. It’s giving up your power. It’s not believing in yourself. It’s not making a choice.”
Thank you wonderful Megan Foley for a great seminar!
Megan’s acting class is on Fridays 10-1 with an emphasis on Audition techniques- $200.00 a month
Audition Intensive one Saturday a month $200.00http://www.meganfoleycasting.com/MFC/adult_class.html
Follow Tracy on Twitter- @TracyWeisertLA