Synopsis by Tracy Weisert
Our August 25 seminar with commercial casting director Michael Sanford was fun and very informative. Michael is one of the most warm, approachable and actor friendly Casting Directors in town. The seminar brought out a variety of attendees from the very seasoned veteran actors to the newer actors to town or the industry. Michael did his best to address all the questions asked with honesty and insight.
One of the very first things he said to us was, “You have to have your resume on LA Casting because I work with theatrical directors too and they want to see your resumes.” When an actor asked about being represented by two different agents commercially, Michael continued, “On LA Casting, if your agent submits you and you submit yourself, that’s okay. If it comes from two different agents, that’s a red flag.” When asked, Michael also shared some of his “pet peeves” with us which are:”Don’t not show up when you’re scheduled. Or if you’re running late, ALWAYS call your agent.” Also, “Don’t crash.” He added that “It is really important not to audition for a job if you aren’t available for the shoot.” When asked about the term “avail” Michael said that if you are getting put “on avail” before the callback, they are putting everybody on avail but if it is after the callback, you’re usually one of three people. [who are the top choices]
Michael mentioned how the entertainment business is one of relationships. “You work with somebody once and somewhere down the line, you work with them again.” He then asked us to “write this down.” “They [commercials] are 30 second short films.” Also with one-liners, we tend to make too much of them and also stated “Remember when doing commercials, you’ll never be the star. It’s Tidy Bowl, Burger King, etc….”
More highlights include-
- “I love postcards!”
- “If you have reels, put them up.” [online]
- “If you’re SAG Eligible, that’s a very good place to be.”
- “The big thing now is to be ethnically ambiguous.”
- “Don’t put a 3/4 headshot as your thumbnail.”
- “When I cast commercials, I read a resume from the bottom up.”
- In auditions, “Slate as you” and while on-camera “If you fumble, just stop and recover.”
Michael “also goes to some kind of show once a week because there is also a lot of competition in the casting field too and every director wants to see fresh faces.”
Lastly, Michael stated, “Out here [in Los Angeles] everybody needs to take an on-camera class.” He then urged the actors in attendance to stay positive and reminded us that our success as professional actors lies within.“A lot of times, it’s a shift in your mind…once you do anything, let it go- otherwise you ruminate on it.”
Thank you Michael Sanford!