by Casting Director, Terry Berland
Have a plan of action.
Don’t be neutral, define yourself.
In order to have the chance of gaining the success you want, you need to know your ultimate goals and break them down into doable increments.
Your goal might be a working actor doing commercials, television and film. Where do you start? I believe a very good place to start is commercials. Get some good training and you will be on your way.
DEFINE WHO YOU ARE: Training should define you. I have people taking my commercial workshop who change drastically during five weeks. Their performance, of course, changes which results in confidence. Astonishingly, people’s looks sometimes change. Sometimes it’s an obvious change that the person has control over; for instance, they change their hair cut or color. Other times, the change is subtle and unpredictable: from gaining confidence with their acting ability, their skin tone changes, their posture and their energies might change. I’ve seen people start out with their performance all over the place–with no definition–and morph into something else. I’ve seen women change from neutral to sassy, and guys change to being cooler, hipper, more contemporary, comfortable-scruffy hipster whose life works without even trying. We don’t enter this work with the intention of changing you. We work on your performance—and unexpected things happen when the true, best of you comes out.
A well-defined performance will book over a neutral and nondescript performance.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT: At the end of the workshop I hear talent who have not yet made head-way in television and film talking with renewed energy about what they want to go after. They are mixed up. They ask, “where do I start?” This is where your plan of action kicks in.
If it’s TV you want, know the shows and know if they use your kind of character. Research who casts those shows. If it’s film know who casts the types of films that use your type and if it’s commercials, get to know those casting directors as well.
TAKE ACTION: Put aside a budget to take seminars from these people. These casting directors come to seminars to scout for talent. They need to be familiar with a lot of new people to cast parts that they do not have time to pre-screen for.
Gone are the days that a casting director can have many meetings during the day in their office with many actors. Why is that? Why can’t we stop these group meetings, and go back to meeting with a casting director one-at-a-time in their office at an appointed set time? Well, that would be like going back to beepers and answering services. Things move too fast during the day. A casting director is manning emails being shot at them all day regarding jobs they are working on, or upcoming pending jobs that they are trying to pull in. Budgets and details regarding a job are detailed, and complicated and fast. Fast because of the internet, fast because of the times we live in. Things have changed and there is no going back. We can’t go back to hard photo submissions, assistants opening up hundreds of photos in envelopes and laying out photos on the floor or in cubby holes designated for multiple characters.
More opportunities for actors to meet casting directors exist now than the beeper, answering machine, photos delivered by messenger, meet talent one-at-a-time for a general interview in the office days.
YOU HAVE THE CONTROL: Look up seminar places and take control; choose who you want to meet; make your reservation and meet them. What you will get out of these seminars is feedback from the casting director. Compile the feedback from many, and you will start seeing a pattern regarding compliments and notes of adjustments. You will also get to know something more about how that casting director works and who they are as a person. It will calm your nerves when you go in to read. Feeling more familiar with someone creates a comfort level that results in a better audition. Remember you are not paying to audition for a role, you are gathering info about yourself, the casting director, and their office. How lucky you are to be in an environment where you don’t have to wait months, years, or never to meet the casting director you want to meet. You can choose and have control over whom you want to meet.
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Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voice-over, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has lent to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”