HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
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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HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
Today we'll discuss how to land 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 their 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 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 well 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 want to teach you five ways to research your roles for commercials so you can greatly increase your chances of booking the role, plus represent the target market well on 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 that their customers probably like tailgating and football, plus which product they promote 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.
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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 what topics are important to the brand. It's clear that they like to 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, btw.
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 a 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 work with 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, or if you've had any similar situations on set and how you
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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Have you considered adopting an "audition uniform" to make your auditions that much easier? Watch this video to learn more.
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.