Tag Archives: commercial audition

Good Little Soldier

22 Mar

Last year I took an on-camera commercial audition workshop. It was kind of a fluke that I got into it, but I benefited from it greatly nonetheless. I gained an awesome friend who is now helping me with the producing of ShortLived, but I also took away some great tidbits– not necessarily just for commercial auditions, but all auditions in general. One of those tidbits was: be a good little soldier.

Josh Rappaport, the workshop instructor and working casting director, gave this piece of advice to the class the very first day and it stuck. Our jobs as actors is to wait outside, be quiet, obedient and patient until the moment we are called in. Then we do the best work we possibly can, say thanks and leave. We are not to cause any drama, any problems or any trouble. It’s true… we can complain all we want about the inefficiency of an audition process, the crapiness of the sides, or whatever but is that going to change anything? No. It just shows you got a shitty attitude and who wants to work with that? We can use other arenas to vent (a blog, our best friend, our boyfriend, our actor friends), but not the casting office itself!

This really came into play today when I was waiting at CAZT for an indie-feature audition yesterday. The girl who was two spots ahead of me started talking to all of us who were waiting outside of the casting room about how she’d been waiting there for over an hour, how it’s so ridiculous and she’s so sick and tired of these non-union projects disrespecting actors, not valuing her time, abusing their privileges etc etc. My time is precious, she said. It’s not fair.

She’s right. It’s not fair. I’ve had those complaints myself. But I would never voice these rants outside of the room I’m about to step into for the audition! It’s bad vibes for the waiting room. It’s bad karma for you. And it’s just bad manners. We just need to show up, do good work and leave. Then we can let it all out!

A Test in Patience

8 Feb

Last Friday I had a commercial audition. They were supposedly the callbacks, and we were to arrive sometime between 4pm and 6pm. So, I got there at 4 on the dot. There were already about 15 others signed up when I arrived. Sort of surprised, but, whatever… signed in on the sign-in sheet and waited for further instructions. It was one of those annoying auditions where you don’t actually say anything, you just react to voice over text that the casting assistant or whoever reads aloud to you. So as you wait you don’t even have some sides to go over. There’s really nothing you can do but wait. Thank god for iPhones, right?

The first few pairs go in (the commercial called for a young couple), each pair taking about 5 minutes. When the director and casting people realize that they had a lot of actors to go through they tried expediting the process by pairing us off ahead of time so we were ready to go in when called. Well, then chaos ensued. There were twice as many women as men, which posed the problem of how to call people in. Instead of figuring it out, however, they just started plucking people out of the crowd and pairing them together according to “ethnicity”. Well, I’m sorry, but what’s the point of a sign-in sheet? Or arriving early?  I’m not about to elbow my way past my fellow actors just to get my 2 second shot at selling a medical tube you spit into. Maybe I have the wrong approach, but that’s not the kind of aggressive I like to take on.

I finally got paired to an African-American man, along with two other girls. (At this point they were tripling up, there were so few men). But then, this African-American woman waltzed in at around 5PM and immediately got paired with him and called into the audition room. I was left sans partner, and a tad confused. I asked the casting assistant about getting a new partner and she just said to hang tight. Ok. I don’t want to be a pain in the ass. I also don’t want to completely waste my afternoon, however. I mean, if they are supposedly pairing by ethnicity, I thought as I looked around the room filled with anxious, insecure, overly confident, stressed and cool-as-a-cucumber actors, then maybe I should just leave. Call me blind, but, I don’t see any half-Japanese, quarter-Irish, quarter-Hungarian looking men out there. I politely waited nonetheless.

Then I noticed a huge line that started appearing out of nowhere, from the audition room door out to the entrance of the building. Shit. Am I supposed to be in that line? No one said anything. Did I miss something? I’ve been here the whole time. Maybe they don’t have an appointment. Maybe they haven’t signed in yet. What is going on!? Again, politely as I could, I  asked the kind casting assistant (I felt bad for her, she was clearly stressed) if I needed to wait in this mysterious line… She reassured me that she knew I’d been waiting and that no, I did not need to stand in that line. Well, now it’s like 5:30PM. Check my phone. Chit chat with the actors next to me. Check my email. Chit chat. Check the clock. 6PM. The casting assistant walks over to me and says that yes, maybe I do want to get in the line after all. Great. Now you tell me.  Then, she makes an announcement that, due to time restrictions, the director will be seeing 3 couples at a time. So, that’s 6 people in the room at once. That’s when the line started moving. I go in, do my bit, which takes about 5 seconds, literally, and walk out. Thank you. Goodbye.

Lesson learned? PATIENCE. This experience greatly tested my patience. And in a way, what it was, really, was a smaller example of this bigger picture: a successful acting career will take great patience. It’s all a game of hurry-up-and-wait. And that’s okay. You breathe. You find other things to do in the meantime. You accept it for what it is because what it is aint gonna change. Granted, not all auditions are like this and hopefully not every little step towards my goal wont be like this either. But, if it is, no big deal. A 3 hour commercial audition? Just a bump in the road. One day, I’ll look back on this and laugh.