Ready to make hundreds of thousands of dollars the easy way? And be fast-forwarded on DVRs across America? Enjoy an exciting career acting in TV commercials. Since you already know how to act (who doesn't?) and you've secured an agent (easy-peasy!) here's some of the nitty-gritty to get you rolling:
Don't start daydreaming yet about buying that new house, deep in the Valley. You'll have to go to a few (hundred) pesky auditions first. You might think you've stumbled into the DMV, or a third-world country's airport, but guess what? You're in a commercial casting office. First, rifle through this box of 500 mini-golf pencil rejects to find the one with a blunt tip. Scratch your name into the sign-in sheet, and then make yourself comfy on this backless plywood bench. Or, if there's no room to sit (likely), lean against that brick wall over there and ruin your sweater. Casting will try and get you in quickly, but it won't be longer than 90 to 250 minutes tops. That cool? What's that? You need extra quarters for your meter? That's hysterical.
Hope you wore the right thing. It's vital to have a roomy section in your closet devoted to special audition clothes. You may need one or more of these things at the drop of a hat (ha, ha):
- A lab coat
- Viking horns
- A tuxedo with tails
- Fairy wings
- A Santa suit
- Something that suggests Chewbacca
If you enjoy the smell of fear, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Aqua Net, you're in luck. Step into the bathroom to change into your wedding dress/bikini/lederhosen. You're not a real actor until you've been completely naked in a public restroom stall. That vulnerability reads on camera, so welcome it. Watch out for stray models pacing with their iPods. They're just running their lines. If they won't give you any mirror space, ask them if they got the revised script. Joke's on them.
You may be paired up to read with another actor. This could make or break your audition, so better try for some quick chemistry. Do you know how to have excruciating conversations with people you'll never see again? Here are some possible topics to brush up on:
- Celiac's Disease
- The Carter administration
- "Where you from?"
- Holiday travel
- It's 75 degrees in December!
- Parking tickets
A word about auditioning with kids. Just because they're lolling around on the waiting room floor, or screaming bloody murder doesn't mean they're not professionals. Everyone has a different preparation process that must be respected (just bring ear plugs, and don't keep your open snacks below knee-level). Most stage moms have their own process that involves letting the commercial "mom" or "dad" do some free babysitting. Hope you know how to administer toddler-style CPR.
Once you get in front of the camera, make your thirty seconds count. If you're lucky enough to get two takes, you might be given an adjustment from casting. My favorites include: "Just have fun with it," and: "This director likes things really real". Let's hope those two things aren't mutually exclusive.
A few last tips:
Auditions in Santa Monica are only held between 3 and 6 p.m. on Fridays. A great way to spend the infernal crawl home on the 405 is to imagine fun improv ideas you couldn't think of in the room. Store those away for next time.
Prepare to see 1,000 versions of yourself. Combat this discomfort by dishing out compliments. That way, you're also complimenting you. Boom.
If you have a brown towel, throw it over your head and cut out a face hole. Voila! Chewbacca!
Break a leg!
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