I’ve been teaching commercial classes to actors of all ages for, well, ages. And I’ve noticed that students consistently ask me many of the same questions.
For instance, I’m asked a few times a year: what can I do to better understand the process of commercial booking?
My answer is always the same:
Put yourself in the shoes of the client.
What does that mean? Think of a commercial client like you would any other employer. For example, if Mr. Smith owns a factory that makes nuts and bolts and he gets a huge aerospace contract, then he has a problem—because the shifts and employees he has can’t meet the production timetable.The solution? Add more shifts and more employees to meet demand.
Likewise, if the Ad Agency has written a commercial featuring a speaking role for it’s
client Coca-Cola and they have given the green light to the project, now the agency’s problem is it must find a performer to fill that role. They hire a casting director who
consults with them on specs and schedules auditions with the actors they think might best match those specs.
Here’s where you come in. You’ve accepted the audition and are studying the script, trying to figure out how to play the character. You put on your actor hat and wrestle with the line “Coca Cola refreshes me like nothing else,”.
Hmmm. How to read that line. The possibilities are endless.
Should I be a shy shrinking violet and barely whisper it to my possible paramour? Should I slink like a Victoria’s Secret model and tempt him/her with my sweet, delicious soft drink? Should I be a hipster, too cool for school, who throws the line away almost contemptuously?
What will help you the most here is a general knowledge of commercial styles today, and a review of some spots they are airing now. To whom is Coca Cola being marketed? Is the pace of their commercials fast or slow? Where do the commercials take place? What is the general tone of the commercials?
Read the script again and make specific choices. Know where you are, to whom you’re speaking, what you want and how you feel about it. If you have answered all these questions for yourself, you will be able to play the reality of the given circumstances. How would you act in the world you have created?
Once you have done your actor research, you will be at a good starting point. Of course, be prepared to change if asked, but the casting director will appreciate the fact that you walked into the room prepared with valid and intelligent choices that served the script. If nothing else, the casting director will see you as a professional actor that they will want to see again and again.
About the author:
oug is an actor, teacher and commercial casting and session director.
He has been in a number of national TV commercials for products such as Mercedes-Benz, Sony Playstation, Sprint, Blue Cross Insurance, Baskin Robbins Ice Cream and Hardee’s Restaurants.
Casting Directors he has recently worked with include: Paul Ventura, Mick Dowd, Sheila Manning, Beverly Long, Danny Goldman, Jeff Gerrard, Frannie Selkirk, MC Sweeters and Mary Jo Slater.
Doug has taught acting in San Francisco, Chicago, Oakland, Phoenix and Santa Barbara. Most recently he was in Tokyo, where he taught American acting to Japanese students. Doug currently teaches Wednesday Workouts and Teens Commercial Class at Keep It Real Acting Studios.