Commercial casting director Chadrian McKnight of House Casting joined us for our June seminar to give actors his perspective on the industry from his experience as both an actor and a casting director.
Here are the day’s five biggest takeaways:
1. Improvising in a commercial audition isn’t about jokes
Improv is geared toward comedy (although it doesn’t have to be and has a history with drama as well), but people often perceive that to mean “make jokes.” Really, improvising in any scene is about specificity and showing your own personality. When they tell you to play with the lines, it’s an opportunity to relate the scene to your own life and how you would behave in the situation. So you can add some funny details that show who you are. It is not a call to try out that new racist redneck character you’ve been workshopping. Also, please stop workshopping that character.
2. The Midwest Has Babies Earlier
So you’re 30 and you still feel like a young pup yourself, but here you are being called in for a mom or dad character. Whaaaaaaaaaat? How dare they think you look like you could have kids! You could still play a teenager on a CW show! This is an outrage! Have you gotten have that out of your system? Good. Now please remember that people in other parts of the country are not currently eating ramen every day and schlepping 40 minutes in traffic with a hella fresh blowout to an audition to play “Party Girl 3.” People in other parts of the country are very often married with family by their late 20s/early 30s. So chill and recognize that no one’s trying to put you out to pasture, they’re just trying to sell stuff to people your age who are moms and dads.
3. Media, Media, Media
Every casting director this year has been hitting this, so it bears repeating: ya gotta have media available to view. Clips, reels, episodes of a webseries, whatever. You should have media on your profile.
So that being said (and sorry to get super sales-y), the easiest way of putting your media at a casting director’s fingertips is to subscribe to our Media Hosting service for just $4.95/month. This allows for an unlimited number of clips up to four minutes in length each. And really, you don’t need four whole minutes to sell yourself to a CD anyway; you probably need two minutes max. This service enables you to post a sampling of your work to every single credit on your resume. Not only that, but you can designate both a video reel and a voice reel to be featured on your resume. Have more than that? Cool. You can create a whole video section of your resume, name one credit “Drama Reel,” another “Comedy Reel,” the next “Commercial Reel,” and so on, then attach your respective reels to each. BOOM! All casting directors on our site can now access all your media, whether they requested media with your submission or not. If you have questions about this, feel free to email email@example.com or call us at 213-201-8100 x. 353. We can walk you through the process and explain everything in depth.
If you can’t afford Media Hosting at this time (though it’s basically as expensive as a drink at Starbucks and it’s for the benefit of your career!), then at the very least you need to put that stuff up on YouTube. It’s less likely that they’re going to go off-site and Google you, but at least this way it’s there for the finding.
4. STOP SHARING PROJECT DETAILS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
No amount of satisfaction you get from bragging about auditioning or booking something is going to outweigh the fact that it could cost you the job. Project details including who the client is (i.e. Samsung) or what the product is (i.e. Galaxy) means you are releasing confidential information. Don’t do it.
5. Watch Yourself In Real Life
Self-awareness is one of the biggest skills an actor can have – for knowing your type and for knowing how you come off in the room. Start cultivating that skill. Maybe get a group of actor friends together, do a cold read, and then everyone gives feedback on how you came off. Did you seem arrogant to your audience when the character is supposed to be meek? These are the kinds of things you need to know. Also, if you take notice of how you handle nervousness in other situations, you can be mindful and apply those same techniques when you get nervous before a read.
So that was our fantastic seminar with House Casting’s Chadrian McKnight! Keep your eyes peeled for our post about our July seminar with ASG Casting’s Justin Radley.
Lindsay Katai is a writer/performer/debtor who has worked at Casting Networks since 2010.