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In July we were lucky enough to have the lovely Nicki Casey for our regular series of Q&A events. Nicki is probably one of the best-known commercial producers in the North. She has run TV departments in creative agencies, exec-produced for established production companies, and ran her own very successful production company in Manchester. In her time she has produced ads for the likes of PlayStation, Greggs, Subaru, and Aldi.

We break down the top points from the event here for you.

1. Showreels


When you’re doing your showreel, keep it as short and as varied as possible, anything over two minutes and you’ve lost your audience, but that’s with anything – showreels, brand films, etc. Keep it upbeat and it’s nice to have a good soundtrack. Nicki isn’t a fan of monologues, she wants to see more – some interaction!

2. Extra Work


A lot of actors don’t want to do extra work as they may be labelled as “just an extra.” However, when it comes to commercials Nicki disagrees. Many times recently she’s hired all extras and picked the right ones on the day to be featured. They ended up making a lot more money than they thought, because they gave a good performance or had an interesting face. Don’t always turn your nose up; you never know!

3. Directors


Producers will have a list of directors and crew that they like to work with. However, it’s always nice to get a bit of fresh meat. She sees a lot of directors reels and sometimes she may think to herself, “Oh, a caravan holidays ad, this isn’t going to be fun.” But Nicki has been surprised before and she’ll be surprised again. If a director has a good idea and can make even a caravan holidays ad entertaining and funny, then they’re going to get a call. Don’t be afraid to be different and don’t be afraid to send your reel.

4. Being Pencilled

There’s so many layers to the casting process. Don’t take anything personally, even if you get pencilled and not selected. Very often a commercial casting brief will be changed on the day due to some “research” the client have just got in. All of a sudden they may want a woman instead of a man! Producers and casting directors will always try to only give the client the option of two, so if you have been pencilled you’ve got a 50/50 chance, but if you don’t get it it’s no slight on your talents!

5. Headshots, always with the headshots!


Just know yourself; know the parts you play are the parts that you get. Black-and-white or colour? Colour is the realness of you, black-and-white just makes you look better than you do in real life. It’s very rare that we shoot anything in black-and-white now anyway, so it just isn’t useful. Nicki would give headshots priority when it comes to spending your money. Commercials are all about the face fitting the brand and when’s there’s a limited number of slots your face has to tell a story to get you in the audition room.  So make sure your headshot tells the right story!

Our next CNI Event in the North is at the Three Minute Theatre on the 13th October.