What lights up a Casting Directors Day?

There are many drama teachers and acting tutors imploring you to take control of your audition. It is your time! It is your chance to impress!

OK. That is what you want.

What do I want? The casting director. (I have been casting full time for 38years. Prior to that I was an actor for eight years. So I know BOTH sides of this argument!)

Actors (and their teachers) do not understand the casting journey. And until you do, you will always do deep, meaningful, emotional, heart felt, passionate screen tests –and self tests –that do not connect to casting directors.

Why? Because you have not delivered what they want.

I am trying to populate a community. That goal is what every casting director is doing. And sure, if I am casting a Broadway drama, I need a stellar group of actors. All highly experienced.

But is it the same if I am casting Sons of Anarchy? Or Sex in the City? Or Orange is the New Black?

I watch the actors some in and I hope and pray they understand the rhythms and the body language of the characters in my project.

The swagger of a bikie in Sons of Anarchy, the slouch of a female prisoner in Orange is the New Black, the slink of a duplicitous teen in True Blood, or the swish of a New York female fashion follower.

This lights up my day. Not your technique. Not your ability. Not your perfectly manufactured tears on cue.

Be daring. Be bold. But above all, ask the question “what does the casting director want?”

Because if you do, you will be seen again by this decision maker.

If you let me show you what an audition looks like from the Casting Director’s side of the camera. Because then you will then know what you have to deliver on your side. The actors side of the camera.

Our next Self Taping School starts March 11th.
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How do you make a casting director smile?

Casting Directors are funny types. Not funny ha ha. Funny strange.

For many actors, the fear and trepidation they experience in front of Casting directors –especially in auditions -is akin to facing off against Cerberus –a three headed dog from hell who guarded the entrance of the underworld.

Maybe that is an overstatement?

I am entitled to say things like this because I have been casting for 38 years. And because I was an actor before that, I have dealt with the actor-casting director relationship on both sides of the divide.

No we are not like that. Despite what is said about us at every actor gathering.

There is an important understanding to take into every casting. And that is:

Like all actors, the casting director is also trying to deliver their creative vision. Their creative input. That is why they were employed. And they explore and deliver that vision, in the audition space.

So all that actor empowerment talk about it being YOUR audition is only half right. It is also the casting directors audition.

We are exploring the qualities of the character. And the qualities of the character should be (MUST BE) unique to you. Meaning:

If you regard the sides as the definitive version of the character, and therefore obediently and faithfully follow every word and punctuation of the writer, then you deliver a dull version of the character.

Why? Because the actor immediately before delivered the same. And the next actor is also preparing to deliver the same.

And so you make the casting directors life dull, boring.

That is not why you became an actor in the first place. To be dull. To be a copy of someone else.

So for you next audition, make a casting director smile by being an individual.

And by finding YOUR version of the character.

Our next Self Taping School starts March 11th.
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What do Casting Directors want to see in your audition?

What makes a good song? Or good art?

That is what an actor strives for: I want to do a good audition.

SELF TAPING SCHOOL starts March 11

Like a song or a piece of art, ‘good’ is not quantifiable. It is different things to different people. It’s impossible to second guess, because an audition that is good to one casting director, is over the top to another.

I have a better question: what makes a memorable song? Because ‘good’ is transient. Whereas I think memorable is tangible. Is definable.

Think of this. You walk into an art gallery and there are twenty or thirty pieces on display and every canvass is a depiction of a bowl of fruit. The same bowl of fruit.

So, thirty paintings of the same thing. Like thirty versions of the same scene – which is what I see on audition day.

A number of those paintings may be good, and we may love a certain painter’s colour palate, or their brush work. But these are technical considerations. These are the things that are learned in art school. In the same way your presence, your delivery is learned in drama school.

But does that impress us? Intrigue us? In short, is it memorable? After you leave that art gallery, which version of that bowl of fruit lingers in your memory? And similarly, at the end of a full day of casting, whose audition still remains in our thoughts?

That is what you must strive for. Memorability. And you achieve that by approaching your character – YOUR bowl of fruit – with how can I achieve my version of this scene? How do I create a difference? How do I deliver a perceptible difference to the page?

I think actor’s must develop a singular style. You need to start to identify your strengths – on screen – and use those strengths to leave a memory in the room.

Oh, and note to self, a ‘strength’ is not your ability.

Like an artist’s brushwork, strength is a technical skill. That is replaceable. Many actors have ability. But individuality Is a rare and celebrated quality.

And that is what you need.

How do you develop uniqueness?

You get in front of camera. Not just often, but regularly, religiously. And not simply to do a self test audition, or a workshop.

Get in front of camera to simply explore. Experiment.

That is why SELF TAPING SCHOOL works. It makes you try things. It makes you experiment. It makes you a disciple of difference rather than a slave to technical perfection.

And coupled with feedback that targets the moments of genuine distinctiveness, you can focus on your special, memorable qualities.

Think of those artists in that gallery of fruit bowls. The ones who strived to be good, they delivered the technical perfection of a good artist. That was their approach. Their goal.

The artist who experimented with noncompliance left a lasting memory. And now, we think of them regularly.

Which must be your aim, if actor success is your goal.

Our next Self Taping School starts March 11th.

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Have you got rhythm? Because a different one is needed for every audition.

We’ve just been through yet another tiring yet hopefully wonderful Christmas spent with family and friends.

I am sure you would have found yourself in various group dynamics with different relationships and this is what we are talking about today.

You would have been in a small group, a one on one, or a large Christmas gathering. Whatever the situation, did you notice the different rhythms of speech that happened, depending on the different situation, environment, people you were with.

But when you’re in an audition situation, 9 times out of 10, you are in exactly the same position, facing the reader and directing every line to that person. Your relationship partner.

Now go back to your Christmas party, Christmas dinner with family, whatever situation you happen to find yourself in, were you aware of how your body language changed? And how your physical relationship to that person you’re communicating with changes, depending on the relationship you have with them? This is what we mean by your rhythm changes.

Be aware of this for your next audition. Your rhythm changes given the situation.

Our Creating Compelling Characters starts Jan 14th.

Get ready for the new year to be memorable.

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Twelve important tips worth remembering for your 2019 Self Tapes

An important aspect of a self tape is to not just know your character, but also get
your framing and technical bits up to scratch.

A couple of pointers:

  • Framing – We find the best framing to be from just below the shoulders to
    top of the head (mid shot)
  • Be sure your backdrop fits the scene of the character. If you are outside, as much as possible, film it outside. The most important thing to remember is does the back drop feed your character?
  • If you are filming on an iphone DO NOT shoot it vertically. Always horizontal!
  • Make sure the light is in front of you not behind. In other words never shoot with window behind you.
  • If you are using a sheet as a backdrop always be sure it is ironed. Nothing more distracting than a wrinkly sheet!
  • Slate – When you slate your self tape be sure it is not 3 years old showing you with short hair. Be sure to use the same slate for all your self tapes so there is consistency which shows your brand. Above all be sure it is establishing you as a professional..
  • Costume – Does it feed the character? And don’t be afraid to show skin. But not too much!
  • Make it easy for the Decision Makers by labeling your self tapes clearly. Your name, your agent and contact details, the name of the project and the role.
  • Be mindful of where you place your reader. Not too close to the camera so that they are louder than you.
  • Remember your eyes are your expression. Make sure we see your eyeballs. Lead with your eyes.
  • This is a screen test not to test your ability, but to test your suitability. Therefore performance does not have to be perfect.
  • Always be familiar with the script so that if you do forget your lines, you always stay in character by improvising until the lines come. Sometimes it is OK to hold the side but always check to be sure.

The most important aspect of a self tape or an audition in the room is to be

Our Creating Compelling Characters starts Jan 14th.

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Why does a Casting Director Get you in for an Audition?

Your natural charm and ability is the obvious reason. But if that is the case, why don’t they get you in more often?

If it is your ability, then why don’t they get you in for a range of roles?

A Casting Director has a perception of you. An attitude, an opinion. To which you say ….. OMG, what do they think of me? You reason that if they are getting you into their room, they think you are hugely talented.

The question you need to answer is this:

Are you there because you can play any role?
Or are you there because they think you are right for THIS role?

This role. What is it? If you can dissect the role, the project etc and unpack what is the essence of this role, you have worked out how you are perceived by THIS Casting Director.

And of course, it may be different with another Casting Director. You are there because the Casting Director thinks you have a quality (or a look) that is right for a particular role. As far as they are concerned, this is your strength.

It is important for you to understand how they perceive you. If you can do that, now you have identified your strength (one of your strengths!).

What do you do with that information? You double down. If they get you in for tough guys, make sure you self tape tough guy characters and make sure they get that tape.

Yes, we are saying make a tape for one particular Casting Director. But show them more complexity in the character, or perhaps how you handle a bigger role, or a similar character with depth and dimension.

Actors always keep doing their tapes and auditions and never analyse ….. why? Why me? Why this role? Why this size role?

You see by having an understanding of why a particular Casting Director gets you in, now you have a chance of answering the bigger question:

Why not me?

Because you need to address the elephant in the room. What have I done wrong to this Casting Director, because they never see me?

Like any person or business in a market place, you need to analyse what works for you …. And what doesn’t.

Because until you have that information, you will never make choices and decisions that move your career forward.

If you cannot answer Why Me? Then you will never ever answer Why not me?

Our Creating Compelling Characters starts January 14. Places are limited.

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Have you earned actor success?

Have you earned actor success?

Or have you just graduated from drama school believing you will now be successful due to all your training?

It is that time of year when I am talking to various drama and acting schools. For many of the students, they have had the most creatively satisfying time of their life.
Being stretched emotionally and conceptually every day. In an environment that celebrates and supports ….. potential.

Not ability. Not success. Potential

What will those students do with their potential? What will any actor do with potential?

In the summer months, we go to the pool or the beach, we have learned how to swim, so we can simply enjoy a social time in the water. We may have the potential to be a representative swimmer or surfer, but hey, we are happy. Satisfied with the pleasure it brings us. We do not need to succeed in water sports to achieve contentment.

So the potential we may have, is forgone for simple gratification of being in the water

Or for an actor, we are satisfied with the simple gratification of being in front of the camera.

Whether you are a drama school grad or not, you have potential.

The question though is: what are you going to do with it?

Are you simply happy to be in front of the camera, trying a new scene. Or do you want to make a decision to move forward?

The choice is yours. But if you are determined to realise your potential, stop being fulfilled by simply doing a new scene in front of the camera and start to focus on what roles and characters are bubbling away inside of you that will turn heads.

Because when people look at you twice, they see your potential.

Creating Compelling Characters starts January 14. Places are limited.

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