Wednesday, April 25, 2007

On Commerical Auditions

I have been very lucky lately to have had several auditions in the last few weeks. All for commercials, all quite fun and amusing. And I thought because this was also the actress's blog, and because people might find it interesting (I mean I know I do), I thought I would go through what it is like to do a commercial audition.


So first you get the call from your agent. She tells you when and where, and what the commercial is for. She tells you what to wear (office attire, casual, club . . . ). Typically you get the call the day before, even the day of. These sorts of auditions are very last minute, hence actors needing jobs with flexible schedules or an ability to switch shifts, or you know, being a writer at home.

Sometimes you will be sent "sides" which is the script for the audition and you learn your part. But more often for commercials you will be auditioning for a "Silent on Camera" (SOC) role, which means there are no lines to prepare. In film and television this is usually a small nothing part. But you may have noticed how in commercials sometimes a whole ad will go by and the actor won't have said anything. There may be a voice over, or a montage of some kind. So for a commercial an SOC is actually not a bad thing.

The day arrives and you make yourself all pretty and stuff (or ugly, depending on who you are supposed to be). Then you go to the casting. There are different casting houses that run these sessions and you get to become quite familiar with them and the people (though not me yet, I've only just started up again since being in the UK, so I am getting to know Toronto all over again. Though already I have been to the same casting place twice in two weeks).

You get there and sign in. This involves putting down your ACTRA (the film acting union) number etc. Then you fill in a form listing your agent's details, and things like your height and weight. Once you've completed the form, the guy/gal at the desk will take a snapshot of you to pin to the form.

Next you can sit and get yourself ready. Usually there will be a story board of the commercial up on the wall so you can get a sense of what they are going to ask of you. "Girl wakes up. Realises she has bad breath. Is embarrassed . . ." with little pictures that go along with it. Occasionally there may be sides up if the audition requires only a few words.

And then you wait. Sometimes you chat with the others (I do like chatting). Sometimes you read. Sometimes you go through the proofs of your novel *ehem*.

Then they call you in. It may be one at a time, or they may ask you in as a group.

The first thing you do is slate to the camera. Slating is saying your name and agent: "Hi my name is Adrienne Kress, and I'm with McGuin and Associates".

And then they tell you what they want you to do.

You do it.

You may be asked to do it again.

Or not.

And then you are done.

And you sign out.


So there you have it! Now granted I am just getting into the swing of things, so this is quite generic and based on what I've had to do, and the stories of others. And each audition is different. But this is an idea, a taste.

Now back to those proofs Adrienne!


Dawn said...

I found that very interesting. I shall look at the ads on the television quite differently now.

About the 'Silent on Camera' roles. I've noticed a number of ads here in New Zealand that I'm sure have been made overseas (they have an American feel to them - whatever that means!) but the voiceover has a kiwi accent. I suspect that each country does their own voiceover.

Do tell us if you do anything I might see out here.

ORION said...

Tell me more! Hey have you thought of using this as background for one of your books? It is something we don't often hear about.
I want to be one of the guys that wear the fruit costume for all the underwear adds...that would be neat!

Dawn said...

Orion is right. That would make a great background for a story. I'll buy the book!

snarkfodder said...

Dawn: I know what you mean. I visited Australia three years ago and recognized a few TV commercials from North America... but the actors were speaking with an ozzie accent! It felt like reality shifted ever so slightly.

Crabby McSlacker said...

Not having a photogenic face or any acting ability, I can't really see myself ever being in front of a camera. But there's a narcissistic (sp?) part of me that's extremely jealous of those of you who do make it onto TV or films.

Maybe I could be an extra in a movie sometime. Although I expect that involves actually having to sign up somewhere, get picked, and stand around all day. A lot of effort to be an unrecognizable set of legs walking by as something interesting happens to someone else.

And I agree with the others--great setting for a novel.