Casting Director Tips: Acting For TV Without a Traditional Script

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Improv & Soft-Scripted Techniques
Hosted by Mark J. Parker


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Mark J. Parker

Webinar hosted by: Mark J. Parker

Casting Director & Talent Relations at ABC's Lincoln Square Productions

Mark J. Parker has been the Casting Director & Talent Relations at ABC's in-house production company Lincoln Square Productions for the past three years. He's been casting in the improv-based/soft-scripted world of entertainment since 2012 in NYC, working on shows ranging from "Celebrity Ghost Stories" and "I Killed My BFF" to "What Would You Do?" "Adnan Syed: Innocent or Guilty?" and "20/20 on ID Presents: Homicide." In addition to casting, Mark is an actor, writer, director, assistant director, producer, social media director, publicity manager, script supervisor, talent coordinator, and more... His short film "Sticks," which was completed in 2016, has screened at over 20 film festivals throughout North America. He enjoys the balance of working at a major mainstream network and working in the independent film world. Full Bio »

Learning improv techniques doesn't just make you a stronger actor, it also makes you ready for all kinds of situations in your day-to-day life. When actors hear "improv," they usually think of live comedy shows, which is definitely an exciting route for improv actors to pursue, but this kind of improv I'll be discussing and teaching is based on an outline, or "soft script" that actors follow, which is rooted in reality for TV.

Improv-based & soft-scripted TV programming is becoming more and more popular and successful, especially if it's crime-related or comedic, thanks to the many shows that air on cable networks like Investigation Discovery, Oxygen, Lifetime, MTV, TruTV, A&E, Comedy Central, and broadcast networks like ABC and NBC. If you can do it, it's a fairly fast and fun way to make some money as an actor, add more credits to your resume, and strengthen your skills to be able to change the direction of your performance quickly and seamlessly.

I've been casting these kinds of roles for five years now, and it's always exciting for me to see actors who can be flexible in their performances. After taking this webinar, you'll have a better understanding of this particular "style" of acting, and feel more confident auditioning for these kinds of roles, and for any role in general.

What You'll Learn:

This is a completely interactive online webinar limited to 12 actors. You will be interacting as an acting group online with your instructor. Attendees must be prepared to share their webcams and workshop acting techniques with one another.


Part 1: Overview of casting & improv for camera

Introduce myself, talk about my experience, and also about how popular soft-scripted/recreation/improv-based shows are today. I'll focus on casting shows/specials like ABC's "What Would You Do?," A&E's upcoming "Kids & Guns," Investigation Discovery's "Adnan: Innocent or Guilty?", Hulu's "Swiped," Lifetime Movie Network's & Bio Channel's "Celebrity Ghost Stories" and "I Killed My BFF." I'll go around and meet the actors and learn their experience doing improv-based work (experience not required!).


Part 2: Online group workshop - soft-scripted & recreation scenes

Begin doing soft-scripted & recreation scenes. We will send out sample outlines ahead of time for you to look over. I'll pair people up, or do single person scenes, and do recreation moments, ranging from a police interrogation, to a ghost story, to a funny fake commercial, a hostage situation, etc. These are all real things I've had to book actors for. I'll feed direction, as if I were the director on set guiding them through the scene. I'll give any notes/feedback to the group about these scenes.


Part 3: Online group workshop - improv scenarios

Move onto improv scenarios. I'll assign different scenarios to actors in pairs, mostly all based on "What Would You Do?" moments but maybe also other shows as well. Anything from harassing someone, to stealing something from someone, to persuading someone to do something. Since we're doing this online, this will stretch your imaginations even more. Once I assign everyone one or two scenes, we will take a 5 minute break so they can prepare.

Begin the improv scenarios. I'd feed them lines and direction cues as they're doing improv with each other. Whenever there's a lull in their improv, I will chime in to give a line and see how they do repeating it/adding it in without breaking character. I'll give any notes/feedback to the group about these scenarios




About Your Instructor:

Mark J. Parker has been the Casting Director & Talent Relations at ABC's in-house production company Lincoln Square Productions for the past three years. He's been casting in the improv-based/soft-scripted world of entertainment since 2012 in NYC, working on shows ranging from "Celebrity Ghost Stories" and "I Killed My BFF" to "What Would You Do?" "Adnan Syed: Innocent or Guilty?" and "20/20 on ID Presents: Homicide." In addition to casting, Mark is an actor, writer, director, assistant director, producer, social media director, publicity manager, script supervisor, talent coordinator, and more... His short film "Sticks," which was completed in 2016, has screened at over 20 film festivals throughout North America. He enjoys the balance of working at a major mainstream network and working in the independent film world.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is the format of a webinar?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar.

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A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer

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A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.

Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
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