Terry Berlandby Casting Director, Terry Berland

With this final 2011 article, I wish everyone a happy holiday season and a creative, joyous, prosperous New Year. It’s been an honor being a part of your path in your creative endeavors. Since it is the last article of the year, I thought it appropriate to end with the last portion of the audition process.

The call back
What can you do at a call back to be at your best? Whenever I’m a guest teacher or lecturer, I’m always asked this question. The information I’m giving you is coming from my own experience with actors, producers and directors at the call back session.

Picture and Resume
When you arrive at a call back have your 8×10 with your resume attached. Before I walk you into the room and introduce you, I like to take a quick glance at your resume to become familiar with you, if I am not already. Even if I know you, I look to see anything new that’s going on. It’s a nice opportunity for connection that is more than just a look. We attach your photo and resume to your size card and instant photo and hand it to the producer and director. They keep this information in front of them to use during their selection process. Many times, after you leave the room, they turn your 8×10 over to look at your resume. During the selection process they have something in their hand to shuffle around and put in front of them as they are talking about the pros and cons of choosing you for the part. They can get a further feel for who you are by looking at your resume. Directors are curious people and love to look at what you’ve been up to. Remember, they will be shooting and casting for other projects and may think you are right for one of those other projects as well.

If it’s been your experience that many times casting is not collecting your 8×10 due to digital information, have it with you anyway, especially for the call back session, for the people who do want it. At the call back, the size card with your headshot and resume is a more comprehensive presentation than just a size card. I have had an actor tell me that he stopped bringing his headshot and resume because most of the time people don’t want it any more and he felt “old school” by offering it. I would say have it with you for the times that someone wants it. It is still your calling card and it is better not to come up empty-handed.

Entering the audition room
I understand you want to make an impression; after all, you are finally with the elusive group of people who are actually responsible for booking you. It is tempting to want to seize the moment and try to connect in some “special” way. What can you do to stand out and be remembered? The strongest impression you can make is to be open, willing, present and directable.

You’ll be asked to take your mark by the person bringing you into the room. Usually there are about five people in the room watching your audition. They may not be paying attention to you when you first walk in. Don’t try to get their attention, walk out of your general marked area and cross over “into their space”, tell a joke, comment about any food they may be eating, or anything else to connect with them. Walk in the room—happy to be there, say a simple “hi” and stand there open and ready for a conversation initiated by the creative team in the room. Wait for someone to talk to you and give you some direction. “Open” is the operative word.

If they are all paying attention to you when you walk in and take your mark, give them a simple friendly hello and again, wait for any cues from them regarding the conversation.

Taking direction
Be acutely aware to listen to the direction being given to you by the person who has brought you into the room, the session director or casting director. It will be tempting to focus your attention to whom you think is the director, or anyone else sitting in the room and you might not hear the direction given to you at the moment. I have experienced situations where during the selection process a remark is made by the director or producer that they would not want to work with a particular actor because they saw they did not take direction when they walked in the room and they thought they would be trouble on the set. The direction they were talking about was not even acting direction. It was direction just regarding taking your mark and other logistics. Of course, it goes without saying that you need to take direction when you are being given notes or adjustments in your acting during the audition.

Giving your ideas
Avoid giving your ideas about how the shot can work. When an actor does that, I see the director politely let the actor give them their idea and act it out. When the actor leaves the room the director and the entire team dismiss the thought of hiring that actor. The reason an actor should avoid giving their input is that there are many layers of reasons for the director’s choices that are thought out very carefully. There is also ego involved. The director has been hired by the ad agency to enhance the original spot. You are stepping into territory where you are not welcome. You’re actually undermining the director for what he has been hired to do. Many times your ideas really have to do with your motivations that will change the feel or attitude of your acting choices. You can keep your ideas to yourself and use them to give a different take. Now of course if you are asked to add any of your own ideas, you should. This is more likely to happen with comedic spots.

Leaving the room
Hopefully you truly feel good about your audition, although it is usually short, and you walk out of the room with a happy, satisfied attitude. It all sounds so simple —and it is. Sometimes keeping it simple is harder to do than not. Hope you have some great time off rejuvenating. I look forward to a great 2012 with you.


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Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voice-over, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has lent to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”

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