Welcome back for Part Three of Auditioning for Commercials. If you missed Part One and Part Two, check them out! Today we’re going to talk about the callback and get a little perspective from the decision maker’s side.
How the Callback Is Different
A commercial callback is very different from your first audition. There will be many more people in the room watching you. These people may include a casting director or assistant, the commercial director, ad agency, and clients. Be sure to acknowledge them. A simple “hello” and nice, warm eye contact with each will do. Don’t be thrown if they don’t reciprocate, or even look away from their Macbook, this is fairly normal. Hey, at least you tried.
Now, let’s look at your audition from their point of view. Everyone that is involved with the making of this commercial feels as if their reputation is on the line. Just like actors, the casting director, agency, and director all want to get hired again.
The client making the commercial wants to promote their product in a way that will gain customers, not lose them. Everyone’s butt is on the line. And here they are, spending a ton of cash to make this commercial and relying on you to deliver the goods. And they’re hoping it all goes smoothly.
Here’s a tough pill to swallow for you. (Sit down, because this one is gonna sting.) The one thing they do not care about is making your dreams come true. OUCH! Hey, they aren’t monsters, it’s just the furthest thing from their mind.
To us, being in a commercial means we get to act, be on TV, have our mom and dad get excited seeing us, tell our exes “told you so” and make a few bucks in the process. To them, this is just advertising. At the end of the day, they just need someone that will do their job.
How can knowing all of this help you? When you think of it this way, a lot of the pressure comes off, right? You can’t control exactly what they are looking for, you can only control how you handle yourself in the room.
What Are They Looking For?
There are three key things the people in the room are looking for, whether they realize it or not. If you can show them these three qualities, your chances of booking skyrocket. They are: Confidence, Professionalism, and Flexibility.
When you walk into the room with confidence, it gives the impression that you’re a seasoned actor. You’re someone who understands how this all works and knows how to get the job done. Remember, everybody in the room is actually rooting for you!
Your confidence also shows you won’t need to be babied on set and the director won’t need to constantly feed your ego by telling you how great you are.
Many actors need to be babied. Heck, I needed to be babied on my first commercial shoot. I think I hid it pretty well, but inside I was secretly wondering why the director wasn’t telling me how fantastic I was. I soon realized, if they aren’t telling you you’re bad, you’re doing alright.
TIPS TO SHOW CONFIDENCE
- Enter the room standing tall with shoulders back. Place your personal items near the door, and make your way to your mark without direction from casting.
- Eye contact and a smile for all the folks “on the couch.”
- Slate your name with your full voice and as a statement.
- Enter and exit the audition room with pace (as to respect their time) but never allowing yourself to feel “rushed” – this is your time.
When the director gives you feedback on a take, it means one of two things: You’re really close and they want to see more, or you’re way off the mark. Just listen and trust them, they are trying to help.
And please, wait for them to finish their thought before you cut them off with a “yup” or an “I get it”. Because maybe you don’t get it, then you have egg all over your face. I see this one so often in the room and I just want to shake the person and say “Let the man talk! He’s trying to help you!”
The impression you want to leave them with is that you are someone who will show up on time, know their lines, and listen when they give direction.
TIPS TO SHOW PROFESSIONALISM
- Practice your “We’re a team” face. When the director gives you a redirect, be conscious of the expression on your face. I’ve watched commercial session tapes back and seen a lot of “Was that good enough?” faces. Instead, think “We’re a team, let me know what else you’re thinking and I’ll give it a try!”
- If you think you “get” what the director is saying before they’ve finished talking, give a nod. But bite your tongue. A dead giveaway for nerves is over-talking. Remember, this is your time. You don’t need to “go fast.” Let the director finish their thought, take a breath, and do your next take.
- Once they’ve said “Thank you,” give them one last smile and calmly make your way out of the room. As far as they know, this callback was one of TEN others you have today.
There’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen on commercial shoots. The director, ad agency, and clients all have their own individual ideas and they all want to see you do all of them.
They want you to talk slower, faster, friendlier, less “smiley”, funnier, standing on one leg, and every other which way. Show them you’re flexible and let them see you “play.” Try not to over-analyze every note they give you. Sometimes they’re just curious to see if their idea will work.
TIPS FOR APPEARING FLEXIBLE
- If the director gives you notes you don’t understand, just do something different. Anything really. Who knows, you might get closer to what they want.
- Know the toughest parts of the script well. This opens you up to relax while they give you direction.
If you can master these three things, you’ll see more of your callbacks turn into bookings. If you were the buyers, wouldn’t you hire this type of actor? Doesn’t it seem like your money would be best invested in a confident, professional performer, who listens to feedback and knows how to “play”?
Always remember time is money, and the most important thing you can convey in a callback room is that you’ll be professional and get the job done right in the shortest amount of time. They like that.
That’s it for this time. Still have questions? In Part Four, I’ll answer ‘em! So, make sure to leave them in the comment section below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.