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Terry Berlandby Casting Director, Terry Berland

Happy New Year. Here’s to a fabulous year of auditioning and opportunities.

What is the relationship between the Casting Director and session director? What impresses Casting Directors and session directors about actors?

As a Casting Director, we receive direction from our director and we then communicate that to our session director. We gravitate towards session directors who direct well or compliment our style. The session director actually becomes part of our team. It is impossible for a Casting Director to do everything necessary to carry out a thriving business. As a Casting Director, when I am not in casting sessions directing, I am in my office taking care of client’s needs including adding more talent as dropouts occur, prepping the following day or working on new estimates to bring in new jobs which gives talent additional opportunities.

One thing new that impresses me is talent are utilizing google to find out information about the casting office more than ever before. An actor will remark to me, “I like your reel” or the actor will say something to my assistant that reveals they know something about us from our Facebook account.

Lunchtime around the kitchen table at our studio is a great opportunity for the session directors and Casting Directors to shoot the breeze. Kind of a Downtown Abbey-ish moment of staff. Remember, we are “just workers” to/for our clients.

I agree with one of my session directors Jeff Gould, regarding what is most impressive about actors auditioning. “Flexibility, willingness to try, and making adjustments when asked.”

What doesn’t work for talent in the audition process is, “acting as if auditioning for commercials is beneath them.” That translates to, “Acting as if they have done it all, seen it all, heard it all. Acting impatient/annoyed, not paying attention while direction is being given during group explanation. Acting impatient or stubborn.”

What does a session director appreciate? “Pleasant, professional attitudes. Willingness and ability to adjust. Willing to play or try something new…go out on a limb. Acting eager to take an adjustment, other than not making any adjustment whatsoever; which totally kills any spirit of improv.”

When given the opportunity “make it your own/go off book, have fun with it.
After auditioning actors multiple times, I get to know their strengths and weaknesses and can work to utilize their strengths and downplay their weaknesses.

This familiarity allows me to know which actor (especially comedic, improv actors) I can trust to ‘do what they do.’ There are actors that I have do one take as directed, then on a second or third take I let them go wild (give them the freedom to come up with something different or take a chance on something different. I like being surprised!”

At the end of the day the Casting Director and the session director confer and hopefully remark “good day.” A Casting Director brings in the best actors they can, according to their taste, they then depend on the session director to get the right direction out of the actors. A session set up with good actors, given the wrong direction, is a total wash out for a Casting Director. The session director who is given inferior actors who can’t take direction is an impossible situation for the session director. It’s definitely a group effort with all the cogs in the wheel in place.

Any reproduction or usage of this article on other websites must be credited to Terry Berland, Casting Director and linked back to here.

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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.”