I have been doing commercials for 40 years, and hate to sound like one of those veterans who starts every sentence with.."back in the day”...
But back in the day.... when you went to a commercial audition, they would always have a rehearsal with you before you taped. You would get at least one out before they would record to send it off to the powers that be. You could relax and know that any kinks could be worked out with the help of the session director before you recorded one for the director.
Now, rarely is there time to do a rehearsal before taping. Session directors are backed up, the sessions are tighter and thus less time to spend with the actors.
Often they will have a group explanation which is very helpful but the actor does not have the chance to actually say the words and do the activities themselves before taping.
1. So MAKE SURE you are prepared for the first take.
Say it out loud prior to going in. Find a corner off to the side away from everyone so you can actually say it. Go outside and do one full volume so you can hear what it sounds like. Make solid choices. Specificity is key. I always say make you you do your second take first. In other words be savvy and solid on take 1 so you can get great direction to do an even better take two.
2. Dress the part.
Even nice casual or at home casual should be given some thought. This requires that you watch TV commercials and know what the uniform is for your type and be sure to have those uniforms in your closet. Ideally you have seen your outfits on camera as well and can verify that they look good on camera and give the right first impression for you in your marketable roles. Back in the day... when I had 3-5 auditions a day, I would bring each outfit for each audition, specific to the spot or role and change in the car if necessary. Now I don't recommend changing in the car, but go in the bathroom and change your clothes and feel like the character you are auditioning for.
This always helps me, but most important, it helps the director, client and agency see you as the role. Eliminate any or all reasons for them to go to the next actor when you are the perfect choice in every way.
3. Button! Buttons book jobs!
In this day and age when improv is the name of the game, you have to be ready to add a little something to the spot to keep your life going and to show your unique personality through the character. Buttons have booked many a job subliminally. The client, director and agency hear it and think it is great, funny, amusing, and instantly like you. They may even add the button in to the script. And it is a way to stand out in a good way. It shows you are a smart thinking actor who is ready and willing and able to breathe fresh life into the scene.
Now that you know to prepare, dress the part and use buttons, it’s time to go out and book those jobs!