Acting : Commercial information required by Steve James

Steve James

Commercial information required

So, I was at an audition this week for a non-speaking part. Four of us at a time were 'in the room', for a slate, show me your hands (Why is this?), tell me about yourself, and a 'now do this'. I was lucky enough to be #4, and watched the other three 'tell the CD about'...there other endeavours, all of which were out of the business.' I saw my opportunity to be different and let my guy know that I was an Actor. he stopped me: "Let's not talk about acting, find something else to talk about." Why? What's wrong with talking about your professionalism in the arena for which you are being employed? What is so bad about giving your every 24 hours to a vocation, and not squeezing an audition in in between your restaurant ownership tasks, ensuring that less than 100% of your attention is on the current production at hand? Why do all of this...for a non-speaking part? What can I show you by talking about something that has nothing to do with the part that will get me a non-speaking part for something completely non-related to me? It's...frustrating.

David Trotti

Having been on the other side of Extras Casting (as an AD) I can tell you what was probably going on. When an AD goes to set background, it's helpful to know if anybody has real world experience in the pretend job they're doing on camera. Police and Firefighting experience are a big plus, but if you run a restaurant that can be great for us to know - it's likely you'll be very natural if you're set playing that role in a scene. They probably wanted to see your hands as a potential hand-double for an actor. Also, since the CD was making a tape, this was the only opportunity the director or AD was going to get a feel for who you are. We already know you're an actor. Maybe you trained with Uta Hagen. Maybe you graduated from NYU. Nobody in the movie theatre watching you is going to see your diploma. All they're going to see is you being natural and making the scene feel real. The irony is, in the fake business of movie making, sometimes just being the real you is the best way to get the job.

Amanda Toney

Hey Steve, this is Shannon from the Stage 32 team. I just wanted to let you know I moved your post from Producing to Acting, as it fits much better there. Let me know if you have any questions, and all the best to you!

Steve James

Strange! I was getting replies in Producing, but that was the audience I was looking for, Shannon.

Jf Davis

Steve the sad truth is that commercial acting is often not about acting but more about people. They are trying to sell a product or service not you. Since you will be one of the faces, and remember that many commercials today have a voice over so non speaking in a commercial is still a principal role, they just want a chance to see your own personality come through. They want to have a feel for who you are so the best thing to do in that situation is forget everything you know about acting and be yourself! I have booked over 50 commercials and it took a while to separate or differentiate commercial acting from film and tv acting. In many cases the less you do the better, too many newcomers try to hard and end up looking silly in the audition room. Relax, be yourself and just go with it, don't over think the process it will just drive you crazy, commercials are as much about look and personality as they are talent. Good luck.

Steve James

Thanks for the comments, guys. I am still silently steaming in frustration at this situation, but I don't like whining in public, so I'm trying to move on. It appears that in hiring actors for these Commercial roles, they are only looking for someone that can be some kind of 'enhanced' version of themselves - unless of course, your look doesn't match their 'vision'. You would think that they could tell that in advance by looking at your head shot! Moving on......

Rafael Pinero

Headshots can be very misleading

Zedrick Restauro

Hi Steve, I definitely understand where you're coming from. I do advise though that what happened in there is not something you take personally. You will get this A LOT auditioning for commercials, and this is for the producers, director, production company, ad agency and client to get a sense of who you are. Most actors only talk about acting when asked to talk about themselves (which is why you were interrupted, but trust me, they don't mean to be rude, casting directors are on your side), but what these people are looking for is the other stuff you do outside of acting that make you unique. They have NOTHING against acting (they're obviously interested in hiring you), they just want to get a sense of your personality, your interests, and what makes you tick.

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