HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
I went to an audition one day, and this particular casting office is always very organized, very professional.
Something happened that day that put them behind schedule. I'm not sure what.
I knew that was abnormal for them.
My audition time was at 12:00PM or 12:30PM, and I didn't leave until 6:00PM that night.
Luckily my schedule was clear so I could just relax, talk to some other actor friends that came by, and get some brownie points with that casting office.
I thought, "They're already stressed out about something. I don't want to add to that stress. I can chill out today, so I'm gonna do that."
However, there was a teenage girl present that was not happy about the situation.
There was another (established) actor volunteering as a casting assistant that day. I know for a fact they have worked with at least one A-list celebrity on a movie.
This teenager was waiting to audition, and she went off the deep end on the casting assistant. Literally snapped them over with her fingers.
She didn't get up and go speak to them quietly or privately.
She started loudly saying in front of everyone in the casting office things like, "This is totally unprofessional," which is not true about that casting office.
"I feel so disrespected."
She was like 15 by the way.
"Who do I need to talk to about this? You need to get me into that next audition."
This girl had a commute. She was coming from a different city and needed to get back, which she made very clear to everyone in the lobby.
Well, they handled it very well. The casting assistant/actor went into the audition room privately.
I don't know what was said, but they came out and just really nicely replied, "You're gonna be in the next one. Sorry about that."
So she went in, did her audition, came out, and I went in next.
Well my group ended up being the last group.
She literally could have just waited one more slot without showing her butt, and it wouldn't have been a big deal issue.
She wouldn't have shot herself in the foot.
In this post we're gonna talk about casting office do's and don'ts (including how to properly handle this same situation) so you know what to expect at an audition.
Have you ever seen something go wrong in a casting office? Comment below and share.
CASTING OFFICE ETIQUETTE TIP 1: WHAT TO DO IF THEY'RE BEHIND SCHEDULE
First, I wanna tell you how another actor friend of mine handled this situation because he did it correctly.
This is the primary casting office etiquette that I want you to learn today.
When my actor friend arrived, I told him, "FYI I've been here for like an hour. I'm not really sure why, but they're running behind today."
He had to be at work and had a commute.
This actor did the appropriate thing--which is what I want you to do in the future if this ever happens--and called his agent.
You can simply say, "They're running a little behind today. I really need to get to work. Can you get me into my original time slot?"
His agent called and got him into the next audition slot.
That was the appropriate way to handle that situation.
So please, especially if you're a new actor and you haven't been in a casting office that much, just know that is what you need to do.
The other thing I want to point out is that I did not recognize the teenager that showed her attitude in the casting office.
She's not somebody that's really been in anything from what I could tell.
Even if she was a known actor, I'm doubting that would even be...it's not good etiquette!
That's all I'm gonna say about that.
Alright, so let's dig into some other tips.
I've received good feedback from casting, so I want you to hear these.
If you've ever caught yourself thinking, "What should I expect when I go to the casting office?" then these tips are for you.
Nobody really told me when I first started.
Actually, I did an audition boot camp that let me know what to do in the audition, but there's also etiquette for the actual casting office. Let's look at those tips now.
CASTING OFFICE ETIQUETTE TIP 2: WHAT TIME TO ARRIVE
This one's pretty obvious, especially if you're a theater kid, but just in case.
On time is late. Ten minutes early is on time.
Anything earlier than 10 minutes is a little bit of a nuisance, especially if they have large groups of people coming in for a casting call that day.
So try to be 10 minutes early.
If you know you're gonna go to the bathroom, maybe go in just a little bit before the ten-minute mark to use the bathroom first.
Use the bathroom before you sign the call sheet.
Let the casting assistant know at the front, "I need to run to the bathroom before I sign in. I'll be right back."
You don't want someone to call for you only to find out you're in the bathroom and not actually ready.
CASTING OFFICE ETIQUETTE TIP 3: HOW TO INTERACT WITH THE FRONT DESK
I want you to start thinking of yourself as a business.
Don't you feel special when your favorite business knows you? Recognizes you? Learns your name?
Next, I want you to learn the casting assistant's name.
They already know your name so it feels kind of weird, but you guys haven't officially been introduced yet.
So while you're signing in say, "Hey, we haven't met yet. I'm Spurgeon," and they'll say, "I'm Stacy." It's gonna feel awkward, and that's okay.
If for some reason they don't tell you their name and give you the cold shoulder, don't take it personally. Just go with the flow. Smile and walk away.
Then I want you to repeat their name. "Hey, Stacy. Nice to meet you."
That's gonna help you get it locked into your brain.
Say it again when you leave. "Bye, Stacy. Have a good day."
Now, the next time you see them at an audition, say hello to them by name. Don't wait until the third time you see them to ask their name again.
So at your very next audition with them say, "Hey, it's Stacy right?"
They know you only met once. You can remind them of your name, too.
They probably know who you are coming in based on the roster, but you can always say, "Hey, it's Stacy, right? We met last time. I'm Spurgeon."
As you start to know them better, ask questions.
Make simple small talk. (Whisper in the lobby. That's another big thing.)
Maybe there's construction going nearby, so you could ask, "Hey do you know what's up with this construction over here?"
Just some simple chitchat.
You may start learning things about them that you can follow up on when you go into the office in the future.
Basically, be nice to your casting assistants. Learn their names. Learn things about them.
You don't have to ask 20 questions. Just chitchat a little bit if the lobby isn't slammed that day.
CASTING OFFICE ETIQUETTE TIP 4: USE CONFIDENT LANGUAGE
This one's really good, but I can't remember the first person that gave me this idea.
I read in an article somewhere I think. If you're that person, please let me know so I can credit you.
Say "thank you" instead of "sorry."
Let me explain.
I always leave really early and just float around the area for my auditions so that I'm not late because I have a commute.
I'm not in the habit of being late, but one day I got caught behind a wreck.
Actually, I got caught behind a wreck, then I got caught by a train.
I let my agent know, "I'm coming in hot to my three o'clock at this casting office."
(Be sure to contact your agent and give them specific details if you're running late btw.)
Let them know the time that you're supposed to audition and where that is so they can contact casting because otherwise if you're say, "I'm running late," they're gonna ask, "To what?"
They've got other stuff happening, so give them the specific details they need so they can let casting know.
When I got to the casting office I did not say, "So sorry I'm late! Yada yada! Excuses excuses!" I walked in and said, "I got caught behind a wreck, then a train. Thanks for waiting on me."
Apology verses saying thank you.
This type of language really puts you in a stronger position.
Let's look at an example during an audition.
Maybe you drop a line. Instead of saying, "Sorry," I want you to say, "I'm dropping the lines. I would like to start over. Thanks for being patient."
You are gonna look like a pro and really confident and like you have control of the room which they want you to have.
Nobody wants to babysit you, so take control of the room. If you do it by saying thank you, that's gonna make everyone feel more at ease.
CASTING OFFICE ETIQUETTE TIP 5: BE PREPARED
You knew when you decided to be an actor that meant learning lines, right?
It's a thing we do.
This seems obvious, but for the love of God, know your lines.
Sometimes you can hear other auditions happening, and people don't know their lines.
We need to know lines and be comfortable learning them on the fly!
Let me tell you about my first professional job.
My first gig was an industrial for a friend who really needed a favor because she cast another friend that did not show.
They needed somebody else to come in last minute. She knew I had a theatre degree so she told the crew, "I know she can learn lines. Let's throw her on camera."
I showed up nervous because I needed to make her look good, and I had never done an industrial before this.
You know those industrials have really crazy words that you don't say in normal life, and you need to say them word-for-word because of legal issues!
The guy that owned the production company was supervising.
Sometimes, we would get the note, "You two swap those two parts," and they were like full paragraphs or pages.
Sometimes they were two or three paragraphs full of lines--for an industrial! No teleprompter!
I know you feel my pain if you've done one.
I was so nervous because this was my first professional booking, I didn't want to embarrass myself, I wanted to get booked again, and I really didn't want to embarrass my friend.
I thought, "Oh, God. Help me."
I went off to the side, ignored everyone, and I started saying the lines out loud over-and-over again until they called me to set.
I thought, "Alright, let's find out. We'll see what happens," and then I'd say all the lines and smile.
Then I would ask, "What'd I just say?" They replied, "Word-for-word. Sweet. Let's move on to the next one."
Let me tell you something.
I have way more confidence that I can handle it if I get lines last minute or if a script gets changed on me, which is probably going to happen to you at some point, so I want you to feel that confidence.
I feel really confident if that's a dialogue where I can work off of somebody else because I've now had to do it straight to camera with a bunch of abnormal lines without chit-chatting with anyone.
Please, please get into the habit of memorizing lines. Please, please don't make excuses when you need to learn lines in the casting office.
If you need to do this as a daily habit, which is something I suggest as a daily habit for actors, then start by learning random lines or paragraphs from books or non-fiction publications.
Then test yourself by delivering those lines to the camera. Use your phone. No one will see it.
Make sure you know your lines, and do whatever you need to make that process easier on yourself.
Get confident at doing that because let me tell you something if you show up and you're like, "Oooooh, I just got this last minute. I don't know my lines," and some other actor busts up in there like, "Give me those lines!" they will get all of the good attention.
I want you to be the actor that gets good attention.
I'm telling you some other actor's gonna come in behind you, not make any excuses, and just be on it!
So decide today that you'll be that actor.
CASTING OFFICE ETIQUETTE TIP 6: HOW TO EXIT THE ROOM
There's always this little bit of weird silence when you leave a casting that's in-between them saying thank you and you leaving.
Don't be weird when you exit.
Sometimes the silence is gonna be there. That's okay.
Be prepared to say, "Thanks guys. I appreciate it. Have a good day."
I seriously want you to practice this.
Open the door. Leave. Don't look back. Don't linger.
Say something normal such as, "Bye! Thanks. Have a good day."
Great. Done. Leave.
CASTING OFFICE ETIQUETTE TIP 7: WHAT TO SAY ABOUT YOURSELF
Lastly, if you're asked about yourself, you want to have something solid to say.
If you are part of an MLM, don't say anything about that. You're not a such-and-such representative, okay?
We're not getting into that.
I want you to answer in a way that is going to move the conversation forward and make you look cool to the director.
If you look cool to the director, you will look cool to the casting director, and it makes casting look good as if they have cool actors that will be cool on set.
Talk about something you like to do or a place you like to go.
I'll share an example that I still need to use.
My husband and I did an escape room as a date night recently, and it was freaking awesome.
We loved it. I loved it. I mean he liked it, too, but I really loved it. So now I'm a little obsessed.
Director: "What's something you like to do for fun?"
Me: Escape rooms.
Director: What do you like about them?
Me: "I was involved with a competition in high school called Future Problem Solving. Escape rooms are kind of like a live-action version of Future Problem Solving."
Director: "What is Future Problem Solving?"
Me: "It's a booklet competition where a team gets presented with futuristic problems that could potentially happen in the world, and we had to brainstorm the toughest challenge and then come up with the best solution."
That's a pretty cool thing. The more I think about it, I wish we had adult Future Problem Solving teams.
But it's not something most people know about me, and it's something very different that I'm doubting they've heard every other actor say that day.
When they ask you questions that aren't acting related, they want to know things about you that aren't acting related.
So what is that for you?
I'm telling you, I know that I got put on the right of first refusal just from talking to a director about the fact that my husband and I flipped a house on a 10-acre farm before that was trendy.
He was very intrigued, and it somewhat related to the audition because it was for an outdoorsy tourist commercial, and we had to do work outdoors during the renovation.
Try to relate your answers to whatever the audition is about if you can.
Seriously, sit down and brainstorm a list of hobbies and favorite places in your phone so you can scan that list before you go into an audition in case you get asked about yourself.
CASTING OFFICE ETIQUETTE TIP 8: HOW TO MAKE CASTING DIRECTORS LOOK GOOD
I wanted to share these with you because I've gotten good feedback from casting, and I want you to get good feedback.
Remember that the casting director works for the client--the company or the studio that hired them to find actors--meaning they need to look professional to that client.
I left an audition one day, and the casting director stopped me and said, "Spurgeon, I want you to know we are very thankful for you because we know you're gonna show up, you're gonna be prepared, and you make us look good."
That means if you're an actor that shows up as a professional, then casting will be more likely to call you in for auditions because they know they're gonna have an actor that has their crap together, and I want that actor to be you.
Do these very simple things that actually have nothing to do with how talented you are so you can build a good reputation for yourself.
This is a business. If you run yourself as a business, production companies will be more inclined to do business with you.
Did one of these tips catch your attention more than the others? Please comment to let me know if you learned something. I love the feedback!
Listen, it's easy to know this info, it's another to actually do it. It just takes time. I still leave auditions realizing I haven't applied one of these tips, so give yourself some grace.
Next time we're gonna talk about how you can be an actor that your talent agent freaking loves and how to interact with your agency.
I hear a lot of actors get upset about a lack of communication from their agent, so let's make sure you're communicating at your best.
If you know any other actors that need this information please feel free to share this post on social.
I'd also love to hear your suggestions for blog topics. Let me know in the comments!
3 CRUCIAL TIPS FOR CASTING DIRECTOR Q&A (BONUS TIPS)
My talent agency hosted a Q&A session with a casting director for their talent roster to attend. It was my first one. This situation requires a different kind of casting office etiquette.
However, I was shocked at a few things that happened. I've been pushing these tips for a few years now, but casting directors have been more vocal about these same issues since the release of the Clubhouse app.
Keep reading below the infographic to prepare for group casting director Q&A sessions. These casting directors are sharing their very limited time with us, so let's not waste it!
Tip 1: Ask New Questions aka No Repeats
👉 Listen to your fellow actors’ questions.
👉Let the casting director see that you know how to listen (an important part of acting!).
👉 Add value to the group by hitting on a topic your fellow actors haven't heard an answer to yet.
Tip 2: Get to the Point aka No Resumes Please
👉 Think through questions you want to ask before you arrive to the casting Q&A.
👉It’s okay to read your questions verbatim so you don't ramble. Make eye contact once the casting director begins to answer.
👉 Casting directors will use you as an example of what to do or what not to do. Which would you prefer?
Tip 3: Relax Your Face and Look Friendly aka No Attitude
👉 Sometimes we furrow our brows when we're confused about something someone said, but your tone will be determined by the look on your face.
👉 Think about something funny so you don't fake smile or make a creepy Joker face.
👉 Be authentic. What are you like on a good day? There's no need to project a personality that’s not yours.
What questions have you been dying to ask a casting director? Type them into your phone now in case you get the chance to ask them.
Comment and share at least one of your questions, plus any tips you have on interview questions for casting directors.
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Your time is valuable. Don't waste it on the wrong things in your acting career. Focus on the most important steps, taught by me, a screen actor and certified goals coach. Go here.
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1 Very Useful Special Skill Casting Directors Love
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HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
One day, my hubby and I were watching the TV show The Blacklist. In case you aren't familiar, the show features FBI agents that use handguns. I have that special skill listed on my acting resume.
One of the agents sometimes engages in hand-to-hand combat. I started to wonder about the actor's special skills. Did he already have these special skills on his acting resume, and did they help him get cast in the show? Did they train him after he was cast?
I'd like to play a federal agent or detective at some point. I asked myself, "What special skills should I work on to be more marketable to casting?"
Then I thought:
"Which acting special skills do casting directors love to see so I can work on one of those?"
I know that you're always looking for a way to stand out from the crowd, Actor Boss, and special skills are a great way to do that.
What special skills do you have listed on your resume? Comment below and share. I'd love to hear!
Mine are currently fitness instruction (kickboxing/weightlifting), handguns, Southern dialect, and karaoke queen. No, I cannot sing, but I can perform the crap out of a song.
It's ok to have one fun thing, such as karaoke queen, as long as you can actually follow through on it. However, do not list anything that you can't perform in front of a camera such as fashion or travel.
In this post, I'll discuss the one special skill that you should be working on this year. I found it mentioned over-and-over again by casting directors when I researched the most in-demand skills.
I'll also share my favorite free tool to help you learn how to do it.
MOST POPULAR ACTING SPECIAL SKILL
Don't dismiss the rest of this post if you already have this skill.
The one special skill that you should learn this year is a foreign language. This is the acting special skill that casting directors consistently listed in interviews when asked which acting special skills they love to see. Don't forget to include sign language in this category, which has been used in multiple hit films.
Do you already know a foreign language? Comment to let me know what languages you speak. Why not learn another one, especially one that's similar?
How do you know which foreign language is best for you? I'm personally learning French right now because I took two years of classes in both high school and college. You'll be surprised at how much you remember! I could easily be cast as European, so most languages from that region suit my look.
Consider these criteria when choosing a foreign language:
You can also use your newfound foreign language skills to make freelance income as a translator or tutor. The average salary is $20 an hour. Translators are often hired by hospitals or government officials to help with cases, and there are a number of online tutoring services that allow you to work from home.
FREE FOREIGN LANGUAGE APP
Learning a foreign language is easier than ever.
I highly recommend the free version of Dulingo. The smartphone app is very user-friendly, and the desktop version has grammar lessons attached to each module. You can pay to eliminate ads, or you can watch the ads to earn gems and make "purchases."
I decided in 2021 to upgrade to eliminate ads. Why? I can always make more money, but I cannot create more time. The ads were a time suck in my day!
Duolingo has made learning a foreign language feel like a game. In the free version, you can only miss five answers before you lose all of your health. However, you can use your earned gems to purchase more. Trying to keep all of your health is a fun challenge, though.
They also offer cool badges that encourage you to learn. My next goal, for example, is to earn 100XP in one day, which requires me to complete ten lessons in a day versus my typical three. You decide how many lessons you want to do each day, and Duolingo sends you reminders if you want. It's stupid easy.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE STUDY METHODS
Here are a few effective study methods to help you quickly learn your language. These include:
The trick to using Duolingo is to finish multiple lessons each day from various categories. For example, I currently take one lesson per day in Food, Animals, and Weather as opposed to three lessons in just Food. That forces my brain to actually learn the words as opposed to just memorizing. I'm always surprised at how much I've retained.
I highly recommend that you read a book called Deep Work by Cal Newport. It's the best way to quickly add any special skill to your resume in my opinion.
Essentially, you'll need to block out a chunk of time, say four hours, and lock yourself in a room with zero distractions. That means no technology, which means no Duolingo, so you'll need to go old school and buy an actual foreign language workbook. The only other option is to use Duolingo in conjunction with an app that shuts down the other functions on your phone or desktop.
The best and only way to know if you're accurately speaking a language is to talk with a native speaker.
There are a number of internationally recognized groups that promote particular foreign languages. Better yet, try all three! You do not want to show up to an audition and be embarrassed if there's a native speaker in the room to test your skills.
FOREIGN LANGUAGES BY STATISTICS
EASIEST FOR ENGLISH SPEAKERS
According to Babbel:
BEST LANGUAGES TO LEARN RIGHT NOW
According to Busuu:
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE MOVIES
According to IMDb:
These have been sorted by user ratings. See the entire list of 50 Best Foreign Language films here.
You can also type "Top (insert foreign language) films IMDb" into your search browser to watch movies in the foreign language you're learning. Additionally, why not watch your favorite shows or movies again with foreign language subtitles for the language you're learning?
OVERLOOKED LANGUAGE POPULAR IN FILM
American Sign Language has been used in a number of popular films, so don't discount this language for your special skills. While there is no universal sign language, ASL is your best option for acting in the United States and Canada.
According to IMDb:
These have been sorted by popularity. See all 143 (!) movie titles that use American Sign Language here.
FICTIONAL LANGUAGES ARE AN OPTION
A number of popular TV shows and movies have fictional languages that you can now learn. Duolingo teaches both High Valyrian and Klingon!
Be sure to read Screen Rant's post with 13 fictional languages, plus links on where to learn some of them.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGES TO LEARN FOR JOBS
Want to make some extra moola with a foreign language in between shoots? There are ten languages you should consider.
According to FlexJobs:
Read more on FlexJobs here. They also list companies hiring for bilingual jobs on their site, plus a list of bilingual job titles that may help you decide which foreign language is best for your acting special skills.
MOST IN-DEMAND FOREIGN LANGUAGES FOR VOICEOVER
According to Voices.com:
Not sure which voice over languages are getting requested or searched for the most? See the top searches on Voice123 (different site than the one featuring the list above) here.
ACTORS SHOULD BECOME FLUENT
Should you learn only your lines in a foreign language? If you want to be in the ranks of actors like Meryl Streep, you'll become fluent. My acting coach told me this interesting fact about her performance in Sophie's Choice. Here it is on IMDb trivia:
"Meryl Streep not only learned a Polish accent but also learned how to speak German and Polish in order to have the proper accent of a Polish refugee." - IMDb
That's dedication. Are you willing to go beyond what's required of you?
What if your big break happens because of this newfound special skill? Comment and let me know which foreign language you want to learn.
Download the free Duolingo app today and browse through the language options. Pick a language and try the very first lesson.
You'll be hooked! You can also find friends to follow or compete with.
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HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
When I was a college theatre major, it was fairly common to need a monologue for an audition. Since I've transitioned to film acting, though, I've never needed one for a professional audition, so why write about how to prepare a monologue?
If you're new to acting, some indie film auditions will ask you to audition with a monologue of your choice. Additionally, it the wake of Covid-19, a lot of casting offices promoted open auditions that asked for monologues.
Each time I've seen a request for a monologue, I've wished that I already had one prepared so it would be easier to meet the deadline or get notes on it before submitting. Searching for one can take a lot of time.
Additionally, let's say you finally get into the room for a live audition in today's self-taping world. You're killing it. You've memorized your lines, broken down your script like a boss, and taken direction like a champ.
Then casting asks, "Do you have a monologue prepared? We'd like to see you do something different to get a feel for your range."
"Uh....no. I've never really needed one since I'm not a stage actor. I thought I was just doing this material. I didn't see a note about having a monologue ready in the breakdown. Here's another excuse, and another, and another."
"Oh, okay. Well, thank you!"
You might have just lost yourself a job, actor friend. We film actors still need to have monologues prepared for auditions, just in case.
Since we don't perform monologues as often as stage actors, it's not as crucial for us to to have multiple or rotate them as often. However, we don't want to be caught off guard if someone randomly asks us to perform a monologue at a callback.
In this post, we'll discuss five practical monologue rules for film actors so you're always prepared for an on-camera audition with the best possible material. We want to give casting every reason to say yes to us, so you'll give yourself an edge by implementing these five rules.
1. YOU ONLY NEED TWO MONOLOGUES
Again, we're not stage actors, so don't get too overwhelmed with finding a million monologues from various time periods. Find material that you like and go for it.
Pick one comedic and one dramatic piece that will show your range if you do them back-to-back. Do not freak out about contemporary or classical.
Theatre kids typically need four or five monologues with a mix of genres and time periods: comedic contemporary, dramatic contemporary, comedic classical, dramatic classical, and one wild card.
Film actors aren't asked to perform monologues as often as stage actors because most of our auditions start with self-tapes, which means way more submissions for the casting office.
They only have time to see how well we deal with the client's material in that initial phase, and a bulk of our auditions will only consist of those initial rounds.
However, if you are asked to perform a monologue twice by the same casting director, prepare a different one of that same genre in case you audition for that same casting director again. In other words, find a new monologue if you perform one for casting.
If you're a film actor that's constantly getting asked to do monologues for some reason, then go memorization crazy. But if you're like the rest of us that rarely get asked, then having two different monologues ready will make you look way more prepared than most.
2. DELETE NAMES FROM THE MONOLOGUES
It's hard to find film monologues because they're either too iconic or the scripts are dialogue heavy. Anything that sounds really obvious will make everyone tune out your performance.
We should choose monologues that make a casting director ask, "What's that from?" even if it sounds familiar to them. Sometimes names and unique details will give it away, but my acting coach gave me a tip I didn't know was allowed.
You can omit or change the names of characters or unique details in a monologue that make it a dead giveaway. How freeing is that? It's not a huge copyright issue if we're using the material behind closed doors and not getting paid directly for performing it.
One caveat to that tip is to please still avoid very iconic, overdone monologues that casting directors will immediately know even if you edit the proper nouns. Those iconic pieces still likely have famous tag lines that can't be edited. For example, there are no proper nouns to edit in the line, "You can't handle the truth!"
3. TALK TO SOMEONE WHEN YOU PERFORM A MONOLOGUE
You know how sometimes you get a monologue and suddenly think it's ok to talk to the ceiling or look like you're talking to a crowd? Yea, that's not gonna work. Out of all the monologue tips out there, this is one of my favorite monologue preparation exercises.
We still need to treat monologues as if they're dialogue, which means we need to deliver the lines to a person--an actual person.
Here are three things to consider:
Do not run your lines in the mirror. Ever. How you feel is what matters, not how you look. Just make sure you say your lines to an actual person at some point during your rehearsals to understand how that feels.
4. GET COACHING FOR YOUR MONOLOGUES
A good acting coach will ask another actor to stand in front of you so you're not delivering your lines to the wall. Ask them to react to what you're saying with simple expressions. That can be shaking their head yes, shaking their head no, or contorting their face into an obvious expression.
I don't care how well you prepare, your material will not be at its strongest unless you have a third party professional give you notes. Perform your monologues in acting class before you perform them in an audition.
I didn't do this and I wanted to kick myself when I saw the before and after. Arvold, a very reputable casting office in Virginia, actually requested self-taped monologues twice one year to get a pulse on new talent in the Southeast. How cool?!
I submitted my self-edited monologue in the first round, even though I knew I should wait for feedback from my acting coach. It wasn't horrible, but it hadn't been critiqued either. I didn't have time to take it to class before the submission deadline, so I took it after that initial round.
After getting notes in class, I had a completely different performance. Guess what? Arvold released the second round of submissions, but I couldn't submit again! If I had followed my gut and waited, I would've had a stronger submission.
Don't procrastinate because you never know if an opportunity will present itself next week! If I had prepared my monologue sooner, I would've had a stronger performance when I needed it.
5. REHEARSE YOUR MONOLOGUES MONTHLY
I was a slacker on this rule because I didn't schedule a reminder in my phone. You always have your phone with you. Plus, you can set an alarm to remind you.
We need to schedule monologue rehearsals at least once a month so we don't forget our lines. Please don't assume you'll remember them.
Twice a month is probably better.
Commit to running your lines by the end of that day no matter what. When you see the reminder, open the monologue on your laptop or a picture of it in your phone so you remember to do it.
Better yet, film it and ask your other actor buddies to watch it. Ask them to do the same. If you can't meet in person, share your recordings via video chat, and give each other notes.
How great will it feel when you're ready to go the next time you see a self-tape audition request that asks for a monologue? What if another casting director releases a self-taped monologue open call soon?
Start searching for your two monologues today, and don't close your browsers until you find them.
If you find a monologue on a writer's site, please follow their rules for usage. They typically prefer that you contact them for permission, and most writers will grant it for use in auditions and class only.
They usually ask for a very low donation fee as well. Pay it! You never know if that writer will be working on a TV show you audition for one day. It's also a great way to network.
Additionally, consider sending your taped version of their monologue. They may really love to hear their words come to life. They may want to write something specifically for you. They may remember you once they book bigger writing jobs. They may know a producer they want to share it with.
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I took a road trip to Atlanta with a couple of acting buddies for a panel Q&A that was 100% worth it. The networking wasn't great, but the info from the panel was excellent. While we were there, we stayed with my college bestie who works in casting and production.
She told me if the audition deadline is Monday, but she has ten great self-tapes on Friday, she'll send those to the director, meaning actors who meet the audition deadline can still lose their chances of getting seen by the director.
It's not a total loss, however. Some casting directors still watch every single audition, which is beneficial to those actors because they're now in casting's "mental storehouse" of talent for future auditions.
In other words, our tapes are still getting seen by casting even if we miss the top ten sendoff to the director, but don't get too comfortable because that's ultimately who we want to see it.
Yes, we submit our self-taped auditions to the casting director, but our goal is to get in front of the people who actually make the final casting decision, which isn't the casting director.
I've heard casting directors say they will slay dragons for talent they love if the directors and producers don't agree with them, but ultimately, they're submitted to production's decision.
Did you know that our self-tapes ultimately need to reach the director and producers in order for us to be considered for a role, and there's a way to significantly boost the odds of making that happen?
So what should an actor do? I'll tell you how in this post, plus tips on making it a reality.
HOW MANY TAPES DOES CASTING SUBMIT?
Casting directors receive hundreds of self-taped auditions, anywhere from 100-600+ depending on the role.
The panel Q&A I attended had two very reputable casting directors who both said they only submit 8-10 self-tapes to the director out of the hundreds they receive.
We need to empathize with casting directors as actors about how quickly everything is expected to move in the casting process. They don't work for us; they work for the production and view the production team as their client.
SELF-TAPING TURNAROUND TIME
I dunno about you, but this information kicked my butt into gear on self-taping turnaround time.
Submit self-taped auditions the same day if you can.
What if the script is dialogue heavy?
If the deadline is longer for a dialogue heavy script, then make it a goal to submit your audition at least two days before it's actually due.
This, actor friends, will require you to get organized.
MAKE A READER PACT
There are a ton of auditions you can actually do by yourself (i.e. direct to camera or no reader's lines). You may even get by fairly ok using a reader that isn't an actor for commercial or industrial roles.
But for film and television roles, you really need a reader who is an actor, especially if the scene is emotionally intense, which means you need to make a reader pact.
Reader Pact: agreement with a fellow actor that you two will always be available for each other's reads unless one of you has a booking.
Ideally, they'll be from your acting class so you both have the same foundational teachings on how to approach your script. It's also nice to have someone who can recall a note from your acting coach that may help with your audition.
We need to have on-call readers for quick self-taping turnaround time. Start asking your actor buddies today if they're willing to do this. This is assuming you already have a self-taping studio.
HOW TO ALWAYS HAVE A READER AT YOUR HOUSE
Now the issue comes down to scheduling a reader to come over for your audition. Unfortunately, for actors like me, I live about an hour away from the rest of my actor friends.
I made a reader pact with my friend Tracie from acting class because she lived close to me, but then we both moved in opposite directions from each other!
So we experimented with using FaceTime for auditions, and it freaking worked!
You can also experiment with Skype or Facebook Messenger video calls if you don't have Apple products, but the quality of our FaceTimes has been great so far.
STUDIO SETUP FOR QUICK SELF-TAPING
If you're taping on your phone, then you'll also need to use a laptop if you don't have a second phone or camera and tripod.
The trick is to find a stand that will allow your laptop to sit at eye level, so you can film on your phone but receive the FaceTime call on your laptop.
So far, we haven't had any issues with our audio quality, but we've both been taking the FaceTime calls via our laptops.
***UPDATE: I tried this with another friend while calling from my laptop to their phone and the audio quality was not as good.***
Have your reader use headphones to reduce feedback if they're taking your call from their smartphone.
Both of you should set your phones or laptops to Do Not Disturb or Airplane Mode. Yes, there is a Do Not Disturb option on your Mac laptop:
Now that your laptop is ready to go, you need to create a laptop stand that sets your FaceTime screen at eye level. My hubby and I threw together these stackable racks for my laptop stand, which can double as storage.
NOTE: be sure to put something heavy on the bottom rack of your stand so your laptop is stable!
So here's your action plan:
This will bump you from being an amateur actor to a pro.
Remember, it's best to have one actor on call, but you can use any actor with this new studio setup, regardless of location. Just be sure to run a test call to double check feedback before you have an actual read.
If you want to get this weekly training (plus a few high-level tips I don't post anywhere else) be sure to become an Actor Boss Insider. Learn more here.
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Today we'll discuss how to research a company for a commercial audition or booking. If you've been wondering how to audition for a commercial, then what you really need to know is how to research the company before you ever enter the casting office.
My very first professional booking through my talent agent was for the car company Audi. During the shoot, they randomly asked us to improv lines and "just talk about whatever."
I asked my scene partner/fake husband something about work, to which the director replied, "No not that. Don't talk about that," which was a note from the client because the commercial featured a couple taking a break from life to go all-roading in their new car.
It dawned on me that I needed to know the topics that were important to their brand, and more specifically, important to their customer because that's who I was representing in the shoot.
The more you can represent a company's target customer, the more likely a brand is to work with you again. I recently worked on a commercial for a new product launch. When I read the script, I laughed out loud and told my husband, "I am this woman. I literally say some of these things."
I mentioned this to the director in a chat before the shoot, and he said, "Well, that's good because you're really going to be the face of the brand." This time, I was able to improv lines at the shoot that had everyone, including the client, rolling with laughter because they were just so dang accurate.
I understand that I need to wait and see how the market responds to the commercials before I assume that I'm actually going to see a long-term contract, but if their target market feels like I'm super relatable to them, then it drastically increases my chances of becoming a spokesperson for that company.
The same is true for you. If you can understand and portray a company's target market so precisely that they love you, then you could be looking at a seriously nice contract.
You also need to understand that the client (company) is on set during a commercial shoot watching you on a monitor in the other room, so if they see that you're representing their top paying customers well, they'll fall in love with you, too. That means the top dog paying all of the paychecks will request you.
In this post, I'll teach you five ways to research commercial roles so you can greatly increase your chances of booking and representing the target market well during the actual shoot.
The secret of how to nail a commercial audition is to be the company's target market. These research techniques will help you even if you don't think that you are the company's ideal customer. However, I still highly recommend that you work with companies that complement your personal brand.
1. USE SOCIAL MEDIA
This is the primary way I want you to research. It's almost a guarantee that the company on the shoot has a social media presence. They may not if they're a new company, but you'll more than likely find "teaser" posts for their launch somewhere online.
I want you to first research the company's social media platforms. Each platform has a different research purpose. If you can't find a company on one of these platforms, no worries. The fact that they're not on a particular platform also gives you insight into their target customer.
For example, I tried to research the wife role for a John Deere commercial. Guess which platform they weren't using? Pinterest! Why? Because their target market (male farmers) doesn't use Pinterest. However, that's the very first platform I want you to check, so let's discuss why.
Side note: make sure you sign out of your social media accounts before you start researching so that your platforms don't start showing you ads for that company (unless you want them to).
Pinterest is the place to go when you want to pin ideas that interest you. Typically, tutorials or how to pins do really well. It is actually a search engine more than a social media platform. That means companies will create pin boards based on their brand and customer interests.
Read the titles of the company's Pinterest boards. Those titles will give you lots of info about the likes of the person you're representing. That way you're covered if you ever need to improv any lines during a shoot.
Let's say I have an audition for the company Bojangles. I Google "Bojangles Pinterest." (You should Google the company name + social platform so that you can access their social pages without signing into your accounts.)
Once I'm on their Pinterest profile, I notice one of their boards is titled Bojangles Southern 500. When I click on that board, the description mentions that it's their favorite race weekend, so now I know their customers probably like racing.
I can also see that one of their boards is titled Long Live the Tailgate. When I open the board, the description mentions tailgating recipes and recipes to complement one of their menu items. This lets me know their customers probably like tailgating and football, plus which product the company promotes specifically for tailgating.
Lastly, one of the boards is titled Summer of Tea. When I open the board, the description says they declared 2016 the summer of tea. That lets me know that this promotion and phrase is outdated, but could be a good reference back to a memorable part of their brand. For example, I could improv the line, "Hey, remember when we played frisbee during the summer of tea?"
Why frisbee? Because one of the photos features a Bojangles legendary iced tea frisbee. This lets the client know that I'm paying attention to their brand and their market. You wanna know how many other actors are making references that specific? Probably none, but I want you to stand out from the crowd, Actor Boss!
If the company is global, you'll need to search for "(Company Name) USA" because the customer interests will may from market to market. You should still look through the various country profiles, though, to see if there are common themes regardless of location.
Facebook started putting a major emphasis on engagement, and they also acquired Instagram. That means engagement is king on both platforms, which will be the focus of your research.
Look at the comments a company's followers leave on their posts. You'll be able to pickup on similar language, common phrases, or what excites their customers the most.
Let's look at how I would research an audition for Starbucks. Initially, I look through their posts to see which topics are important to the brand. It's clear that they spotlight seasonal drinks, Fairtrade coffee farming, and their college tuition program.
Now I need to check the comments on each of these posts to see how their audience responds to these topics. At the time of this post, fall drinks are all the rage. That means I should definitely know something about those seasonal drinks, especially if the commercial features one of them.
Next, I see a post about one of their coffee farmers. However, reading through the comments teaches me that they're actually discontinuing the coffee line from that country, so I should probably steer clear of mentioning it. I also need to research which countries they currently source from, such as the one featured in this post.
Lastly, they are proud to support college education for their employees. I can see in the comments that current employees are praising the program as well. That means I should probably research the college they partner with, plus how the program works.
Even if I don't use this information to improv lines, it will be really good to know in case the client asks me questions about the company at a callback.
You may also see complaints or negative feedback, but I want you to be careful with these. For starters, make sure the feedback is actually constructive before you consider it. Otherwise, it may be a troll just looking to have a laugh.
Additionally, you never want to steer the conversation in a negative direction on a commercial. Even if you do see feedback that's constructive, only utilize that research to know which topics to stay away from.
The number of shares a post gets is also important. Which posts are getting the most shares? Shares are the highest value of social engagement because someone is showing it to their audience. Typically, people only share if the content makes them look good to their followers.
YouTube is all about video, so do this research when you have time to watch a few. Even though YouTube allows comments, I want you to research using the videos themselves.
Check a company's YouTube videos to see which ones have gone viral, the overall style of their commercials (including the acting), and to look for user generated content.
If a video has gone viral, that means their customer base knows about it and is probably talking about it. The style of the commercials will help you understand if their productions are laid back or super polished (i.e. audition outfit and hair). User generated content will actually let you see and hear their customers!
Let's look at how I would research an audition for BMW. At the time I'm writing this post, BMW's featured video has gone viral. It's a narrative video called The Small Escape about how a BMW helped nine people escape to West Berlin in 1964. It currently has over 5.4 million views. Update: it jumped one million views since yesterday (see pic). Their customers are definitely talking about this video.
Next, I need to look through their playlists. These videos mainly spotlight their vehicle models. The look, tone, and feel of these videos is very sleek and luxurious. That means I don't need to show up in camping gear like I'm auditioning for a Subaru commercial. The talent featured in their videos include a woman who is British and a man dressed in a suit.
Lastly, I search for "BMW review" to find user generated content. Remember to use positive information, not negative. During this search, I find a number of videos from actual owners (not businesses), and I see a video titled BMW Customer and Staff Testimonial Compilation. Now I can see and hear actual customers, and gain some knowledge about the cars. Since I don't personally own a BMW, I need to know what words their customers use to describe their vehicles.
That's it for your social media research. It really won't take you that long once you start doing it, but I have four more research ideas for you before we finish.
2. ASK THE DIRECTOR
You won't always have the opportunity to chat with the director before a shoot. It really depends on their personality and availability. I do not suggest that you ever request a chat unless you're an A-lister.
If you're offered the opportunity, then chat with the director or artistic director before the shoot. They'll have a list of notes about the client's interests and vision. Remember, the client (company) is who everyone wants to make happy.
Take notes during your social media research, and ask the director if your interpretation of the ideal client is correct. You should also ask if there are any topics they would like you to stay away from. That question would've saved me big time on the Audi shoot!
3. TALK WITH FRIENDS OR FAMILY
You won't be the ideal client for most of your commercial auditions. What if you've never tried the featured product or interacted with the company? Don't sweat! Do you know someone who has?
If you're not the company's target market, then talk to your friends or family members that are their ideal customer. Ask them how they feel about the company or product (as long as the product isn't new or you're not violating an NDA!).
Watch them gush. Listen to the words they use. Ask them to tell you why they purchase from that company.
4. BECOME A CUSTOMER
I had an audition for a fast food restaurant once, but I'd never eaten their food. You typically don't eat food in an audition, but something in the audition notes made me think I would be asked about the featured menu item.
That morning, I purchased and tried the menu item. Sure enough, the casting director asked us questions about the food for the audition. How do you think that would've gone if I'd replied, "I don't know. I've never eaten it"?
The best way for you to learn about a company and their customers is to become a customer yourself.
If you're unwilling to eat a company's food, especially because of food sensitivities, then you probably need to decline the audition. Things change on set all of the time, so you may get unexpectedly asked to take a bite outta something.
What if you're doing an audition for an expensive product, like a car? Go to the dealership and let them know that you have an audition, so you want the customer experience to see what it's like. Just don't share any information about the script or audition. If people ask me, I simply smile and reply, "I'm not allowed to say until it's released."
5. LOOK AT THE COMPANY'S WEBSITE
This tactic always proves valuable, regardless of what job you want with a company. Companies spend thousands of hours and dollars building their brands, which means their brands and interests are very important to them! Let them see that you understand that.
Research these areas of a company's website, and find ways to personally connect to their:
You want to have a solid answer for the question, "Why should we book you for this role? Why do you want to represent our company?" Now, I've never been asked that question, but you better believe I'm always ready with an answer that has nothing to do with my career. Be ready to talk about them or tell a story from your life that relates to their company in some way.
Comment below let me know if you have any other ways to research that have worked out for you. If you've had any similar situations on set, share how you handled that.
Go back and research the social media platforms of any brands you've auditioned for to test your research skills. What topics could you use based on what you find?
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HEY ACTOR BOSS,
I'm a screen actor and certified goals coach focused on helping other screen actors that are not yet a household name achieve their most urgent goal.