Commercial Casting Advice – Your Introduction to the camera

Actor Advice for commercial castings
Photo Credit: Judy Cook via cc
Commercial castings can be an actors nightmare.
They can often feel like cattle calls, you are often seen late, have been waiting in a small uncomfortable waiting room, paired with someone who you have no rapport with, and keeping an eye on the clock because you should have been back at work ten minutes ago!
Don’t let any of this get to you, it will read on tape. You need to go into every casting with a professional and likeable attitude, and for commercial castings this is doubly important.
I strongly believe that getting a recall is based on a combination of three things: Looks, Talent, and Personality.
Yours looks are probably the most important factor. You need to look right for the product, for the target market of the product. A commercial will probably last under a minute so the audience needs to ‘get’ who you are and identify with you in seconds. If you don’t look right for this role and this product it’s unlikely you’ll get a call back.
Your talent and creativity is really important. If you are reading a script or more usually improvising around a script then you need to add some magic to it. The tape will be watched back by the creatives and if you can bring their vision to life and enhance that vision then you stand a good chance of coming back and meeting with them and the clients.
Your personality is equally as important as your talent and it is your personality which you can easily leave outside the room. Personality, confidence and your unique ‘essence’ need to be present in your introduction, and if you get wound up or flustered outside the room this can be read and seen on your camera introduction and it’s unlikely that the director, clients and creatives will think you would be fun to work with.
For me, the biggest thing that nails jobs is attitude.

People bring the wrong stuff into the room. They bring in their own drama.

You don’t go on a date and start moaning about your life. It makes you unattractive!
Matt Selby Casting Director
At the start of any commercial casting you will be asked to give your name and agent to camera. Your introduction to camera is the first thing the people who might hire you are going to watch, and it is so easy for you as an actor to overlook the importance of it.
At a first call for any commercial it is quite likely that there will be 50 to 100 actors seen. This will probably amount to about two and a half hours of video footage for the powers-that-be will have to watch and more than likely they will watch this in about 30 to 45 minutes.
Yes, that means a lot of actors will not be watched or will be watched on fast-forward.
How you look will determine if you are watched or not, but also how your personality comes across in that initial introduction has a lot of influence. Those few seconds often determine if your actual audition will be watched or not.
The saying goes “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” and this is especially true in a commercial casting.
Relax when you introduce yourself. Think about how you introduce yourself normally to people, it is never too forced or powerful, it is relaxed and real and comes from a place of genuinely wanting to make a connection.
Focus on one of the people in the room and keep them in your mind. When you look down the camera lens imagine it is that person and say “Hi, my name is XXXX XXXXX, and I’m represented by XXXX” or however you want to say it, use your words, make it different and real each time. Don’t find yourself ‘locked’ in a way of saying it or it will become too rehearsed.
Don’t underestimate the importance of being you and being genuine when you introduce yourself on camera at a commercial casting.
If you can be positive, relaxed, self-assured and likeable when you say hello who you are and your agent, then if you also look right your audition will probably be watched in full.
If you can relax and be yourself when you make your initial contact in the casting room, it will put you in touch with the people in the room, the people watching the tape and also put you in touch with yourself and your own instincts and means you will probably give an even better casting.
The first impression is EVERYTHING so put your best foot forward from the first moment of your audition! Learning to get out of your own way and enjoy the process is half the battle. Be yourself and you’ll never let yourself down.