A multi part series for the not-so-established actor, hoping to improve their career.
How does the saying go? The devil is in the details… implying that the hard part of any task at hand is in the small details. When it comes to commercial casting, the simplest details can be a make or break in your chances of booking a job… but, the good news is: it is all easy stuff. So for the purpose of the topic today, I will still say the devil is in the details, but with the implication that even in the biggest audition, success could depend on the smallest (and simplest) components.
Commercial actors should never forget that the tiny details could make the difference between booking and not booking a job.
Folks, again I say, this is simple and easy stuff.
*Write legibly on your size card. Yes, there are still commercial casting directors who have you fill out a hard copy size card. You have to print so all involved can read your writing. Your name must be legible. Your phone number must be legible. If casting doesn't know who you are or how to contact you, a callback is difficult… making your chances of booking, slim to none. Right? Don't make casting try to solve the mystery of who you are and how to get a hold of you.
*While on the topic of phone numbers, there is a discussion about when it is appropriate and safe to include your own personal contact info. Especially with online size cards, many agents prefer to have only the agency contact info included. Follow your agent's advice. The only time I would advocate writing your personal cell and home number, is when late night, early morning, or weekend calls are expected to be going out from the casting office directly to you. In theory, they should let you know if this will be happening. Then, I would say you should write your personal numbers down on the hard copy size card. You can't book the job if casting can't call you for a last minute weekend callback.
*Don't go by several different names. Stick to one. Always. I suggest you stick to the name you have on your LA Casting account. Most (if not all) commercial auditions go through LA Casting. If you have one name with no last name… write that on your size card. If you use a nickname, stick with that. If you use your maiden name, don't switch back and forth!!! Catch my drift? Imagine if your LA Casting account is under the name: ZEN (stage name) and you write Joe Smith (real name) on your size card. If casting gets a list of selects from production, and Joe Smith is on the list…casting has no idea who Joe is, where he came from and how to call him back. When a search is done on LA Casting, you won't be found because your account is under ZEN. Pick your name, stick to it, and use that one and only one!! No mysteries!
*Know the name of the job and the casting director you have an appointment with. Many of the commercial casting studios in town have multiple casting directors working out of the same facility. Many commercial casting directors have more than one job going on at a time. It isn't good enough to know your time and location… you have to know what you are coming in for, and who the CD is. If your agent doesn't provide this information, ask for it. In the end it is your responsibility to know all the details. (I won't even mention being in the correct wardrobe and knowing the sides, etc.) You can’t book a job if you aren’t put on tape… because you don’t know the job and the CD who called you in. Make sure you have all the details of your audition.
*Ok, I said I wouldn’t mention it, but I can't help myself. Wardrobe. Make sure you come to an audition in the requested wardrobe. Commercial casting directors always include that info when sending out audition appointments. Don't come in the clothes that you wore in your headshot. I have heard that. You should look like your headshot, yes, meaning your headshot should be current. You shouldn't come to an audition dressed in the same attire with the same hairdo as your headshot if the casting director has requested something else. Most of the time they will. Again, if your agent didn't include wardrobe info when giving you your appointment time, ask for it. You can't book the job if you come in looking wrong for the role.
Booking a commercial can be an elusive thing. You certainly don't want to take yourself out of the running by making a silly mistake, like writing illegibly on a size card or using your real name vs. your stage name. You want to have all your ducks in a row to give yourself the best possible chance in an audition. Then, your care and attention to the audition will be the only thing casting and production will have to contend with…which is exactly as it should be.