Viewing entries in
Commercial Technique

1 Comment

How to Conquer the dreaded MOS Audition

quiet.jpg

THE HARDEST AUDITIONS for most actors are those in which you do not speak, commonly called MOS spots.  These are the spots where there is no dialogue, but a specific situation is occurring.  The session director gives you a group explanation and puts everyone through the paces. Many times they are very, very specific about what they want and don’t want.  Then the session director sends the actors back to the lobby and that seems to be where the actors work and preparation ends.

In my classes I always instruct actors to go deeper, to make everything personal and specific, To ask yourself the questions, who, what, where, and why.

Who are you and who are you talking to or looking at? Do you have a history? Do you have a feeling about them right now?

Where are you?  Make it somewhere you know and a re familiar with. What do you see there? Be particularly specific in this regards as it will help you the most with MOS spots in grounding you. Make a quick list on a piece of paper about what is in the environment to look at. I find this the most helpful thing to making my audition feel more realistic and ground myself in the non verbal action.

What do you want?  This is Acting 101. Do you need anything from the other person?  Are you getting it? How do you feel about it?

Ask yourself these questions in the lobby before going in rather than talking to other actors about how many auditions they have or have not gone on.

 Over the years I have found the only way to feel good about the MOS audition is to throw myself 100% into the imaginary circumstances, putting myself in the environment and making it as full and real as possible WITHOUT TALKING. 

HOT TIP:  Sounds are okay. Sounds are free words. An occasional Oh!  Or Wow! Or a well placed AHH! Seem to really fill up the awkward space of not talking.

Try it next time and see how you feel. And let us know how it goes.

 

KMC_5149.JPG

Judy Kain has been a professional actress now for 37 years, showcasing her skills and talents in over 350 commercials and in over 80 roles for film and television.  

Some of her more well-known credits include a Television Series Regular on The Jackie Thomas Show and a Recurring role on the Emmy-winning show Mad Men, a role which won her a SAG Award.  Her other favorite recurring credits include Married with Children, For Your Love, Grosse Pointe, and Manhattan, AZ with Chad Everett.  She has done numerous guest appearances on the hit shows Modern Family, The Middle, Bones, Castle, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, ER, Seinfeld, The District, The West Wing, NYPD Blue, Friends, and The Drew Carey Show just to name a few.   Her teaching career has also lead to immense success, being voted BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE ON-CAMERA COMMERCIAL TEACHER IN LA in 2010 and 2011.  Her other acting classes have won BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE IN LA as well, and continue to produce amazing results for her students. She teaches Advanced Callback, Commercial A to Z and Commercial Wednesday Workouts.

1 Comment

How to Rock your Callback

2 Comments

How to Rock your Callback

For the actor often the callback, is where they FALLBACK because it is full of unexpected elements and factors completely beyond your control. The copy may have changed, the concept may be completely different from your first audition. They may even have you read for another role you didn’t even know about.  The last thing you want to do is panic or get flustered or worse mad and indignant.

I always say show up to the callback with an expectation that something will be different and  jump up and down if everything is  the same way it was in the first call.

First thing you want to do is Sign in and find a quiet place to sit. I generally avoid the chit chat. Too many chances to come unglued or psyched out. This one actress would always engage in conversation and inevitably find a way to get the upper hand. One time she told me how she had just booked something and wasn’t sure if it would be a conflict for this job… a classic psych for an actor. Still another time right before I was called told me I had a little spot on my shirt.. Tried to rub it out and then said.. oh they will never notice!  There was no spot… But believe me I thought about that spot all the way down the hall.  So Socialize later and discuss the business after your audition.

  • Get centered , be  grateful  for being called back and get confident in your choices.

  • Be ready for anything, give it 110% and keep your ears open to hear the direction.

Walking into the room when called, is art form.  

  • Confident, not cocky,

  • Self sufficient, not needy.  

  • Ready and prepared,

  • Not anxious and flustered.

Leave everything outside the room including coats, umbrellas, &  emotional baggage.  Come in unencumbered, free and ready to play!   

Give up forever from this moment forward the nagging question “What do they want?”  “What are they looking for?”  It is the actor who brings in a solid choice within the realm of what is appropriate for the scene, makes it their own and commits to that choice, who turns the head of the director.   .

The minute you worry about  the Illusive
“they” and what “they” want ,you are giving your power away to the room. I always tell actors to walk in the room already with the job already. Have the attitude of having gotten the call that you booked the job and this is an informal meeting with the director. See how that affects the way you are in the callback room.

Directors often get their inspiration from you! Something you are doing will stimulate them giving you a note  or redirection.  This is a good thing!! It means you are giving them something to play with.

The last thing a director wants to do is have to pull a performance out of an actor. That is exhausting.  They are happy as a clam when you deliver, take after take, keeping it fresh and new but hitting the beats each time.. This is what directors look for.

When a director gives you a note, listen and repeat what you heard them say.. For example, If the director says, “Try it again and this time, don’t pause at the end”

You say something like, “ great so at the end just keep my life going?”

Then they might say.. no, I want you to take the beat just quicker.

“Great, so reaction quicker at the end”.  In the repeating of the direction you have the opportunity to take a moment to process and to allow the note to go in to your body. You will also remember the note more by saying it out loud rather than just nod and say got it… Often we think we are listening but nothing is going in because the nerves are blocking our receptors.

Your attitude and personality are being auditioned, as well as your talent. The director and creative team want to see how you will be on the set ALL DAY LONG. The easier you are to work with and the more you can listen and deliver to the best of your ability what they are asking, the better

A good poker face is handy to have at callbacks, as you never want to leave a room letting them know you did not have the winning hand. Stay pleasant, thankful till you get to your car.

You probably did better than you think. And there is always another audition.

Practice, Practice, Practice is the key. Go to workout groups. Practice copy in front of people and think of yourself as a Booker! Till you are one!

Nothing looks better on an actor than just having booked a job!

Judy Kain has been a professional actress now for 37 years, showcasing her skills and talents in over 350 commercials and in over 80 roles for film and television.

Some of her more well-known credits include a Television Series Regular on The Jackie Thomas Show and a Recurring role on the Emmy-winning show Mad Men, a role which won her a SAG Award.  Her other favorite recurring credits include Married with Children, For Your Love, Grosse Pointe, and Manhattan, AZ with Chad Everett.  She has done numerous guest appearances on the hit shows Modern Family,The Middle, Bones, Castle, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, ER, Seinfeld, The District, The West Wing, NYPD Blue, Friends,and The Drew Carey Showjust to name a few.   Her teaching career has also lead to immense success, being voted BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE ON-CAMERA COMMERCIAL TEACHER IN LAin 2010 and 2011.  Her other acting classes have won BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE IN LA as well, and continue to produce amazing results for her students. She teaches Advanced Callback, Commercial A to Z and Commercial Wednesday Workouts.

2 Comments

13 Comments

Exclusive Interviews with Backstage's 2015 Reader's Choice Award Winners

We did it!   

Keep It Real Acting is officially the 2015 BACKSTAGE READERS' CHOICE Winner for FAVORITE AUDITION TEACHER, FAVORITE IMPROV TRAINING CENTER, and FAVORITE KIDS ACTING CLASS!  Below are our exclusive interviews with our Award Winning Teachers this year, Judy Kain, Paul Hungerford, Donna Rusch, Doug Traer & Nancy Linari!  We hope these brief clips can give you a little insight as to what make these teachers so special.

Judy Kain is the owner of Keep it Real Acting and teaches the Commercial A to Z Class and the Advanced Callback Class.  Judy has been a professional actress now for 37 years, showcasing her skills and talents in over 350 commercials and in over 80 roles for film and television.  

Paul Hungerford teaches the Commercial A to Z Class and Improv-a-thon at KIRA. For over 25 years, Paul has been performing on stage and in film and television productions, as well as working with The Groundlings, Acme Comedy Theater, Impro Theater, and Comedy Sportz LA.  He is currently the Director of TheatreSports at the Impro Theatre in LA, and has been seen on your TV set in over 40 commercials and a number of shows.

Doug Traer teaches the Kids Class & Commercial Wednesday Workouts at KIRA.  Doug has been working in film, television, theatre, and commercials for the past 26 years.  When he is not acting, he works as a commercial casting director and session director for many Casting Directors around town. 

Donna Rusch teaches the Next Step class at KIRA. Donna has more than 20 years experience as a professional actress and broadcaster.  She is a former TV News Anchor and Television Show Host and has been seen in more than 100 commercials and films, including last year's hit, Gone Girl.

Nancy Linari teaches the Teens Class at KIRA. Nancy has been a professional actress for over 30 years. Her work can be seen and heard in both commercials and animation, on television and radio; from Bones to Modern Family, from ABC’s animated The Addams Family (the sexy Morticia Addams) to the Academy Award nominated The Social Network (the cranky secretary to the president of Harvard.)

Again, We are overflowing with gratitude, humility, and love.  Thank you so much for making KIRA a 2015, 3 Category Winner and a leading, competitive, loved acting studio in LA!

Sincerely,
Your KIRA Family

13 Comments

12 Comments

What makes some Actors so Hireable

Once, while attending a holiday party , I was cornered by an actor who had auditioned for me earlier that year. He was relatively new to the business and wanted to know the secret to booking commercials.

At first, I told him that if he figured it out, please let me know. No one knows of one thing or combination of things that will always get you booked.

But, he said, there are actors who consistently book commercials and work more than others. What do they do that makes them so hireable?

I had to think about that one.

It’s true, I know a handful of actors of different descriptions who book a lot of commercials and they have some traits in common.

1. They are a “type.” Americans relate to people they can recognize and categorize in their minds. We call them “types.” By their looks and what we see on TV, we expect a certain behavior from them. For instance, blue collar types are usually lovable, not that smart, hardworking and honest. You’ll see them in family restaurant and truck commercials. Slacker types are unshaven, often college students or stoners, have messy hair and clothes, and are generally irresponsible. They populate nearly every beer commercial and some computer as well as fast food spots. Because commercials are only 30 seconds long, types must be instantly recognizable. These actors have that quality.

2. They are good actors. Yes, commercials generally aren’t as demanding of acting skills as theatrical productions. But good acting is good acting, and just as if I were going to have minor surgery somewhere, I would want an overqualified surgeon to perform it, directors want an actor who is capable of much more than just the role you’ve hired them for.

Picture

3. They are professional and prepared. They’ve done their homework. They know all about the spot, the copy, look and wardrobe and they’re ready to work as soon as they arrive for the audition.

4. They are not thrown by change. They can roll with whatever changes are made, and shift gears without batting an eye. Often in callbacks, I see directors ask for a different interpretation of a script. Not because they think it will be shot that way, but just to see if the actor can do it. Usually these actors have a background in improv.

5. They are confident. They know they can do they job and they project that confidence to the agency and production company. They are not intimidated by the process. Think about it. If I were going to have the above mentioned surgery, do I want a surgeon who behaves as if they’re not really sure this is a good idea or can be done? Or do I want someone who is on board with the diagnosis and makes me believe that it’s a piece of cake?

6. They get it. Oftentimes I see actors come in and give an audition without understanding the spot. If it’s comedy, they don’t know why it’s funny. Actors who book get it. They watch commercials and know the tone of the advertiser and commercials in general. And if they don’t understand, they ask to have it explained.

7. They are consistent. If you call them in, they will consistently give a good, believable performance. And they tend to be level headed, neither blinded by success nor defeated by failure. They know the game and they know how to play it.

Most of the things I’ve described come from training and experience. Okay, that’s not true of your looks, sex or ethnicity, but training and experience should dictate the audition choices you make. You can learn a lot taking classes and just watching commercials. Watch the performances. Note the economy of words and images. Watch how they’re edited. See how different companies have their own style or message regardless of the spot. Then remember that when you audition for their ads.

Picture
Doug Traer Commercial Wednesday Workout, Kids Commercial Class
Doug has been working in film, television, theatre, and commercials for the past 26 years.  His film credits include Robert Miller’s Brenda Starr, the critically acclaimed Speak of the Devil and the black comedy Dead Giveaway.  He has had multiple roles on General Hospital, appeared in America’s Most Wanted and Saved by the Bell, among others.

He has made 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.

In addition to his acting gigs, he works as a commercial casting director and session director as well as teaching and providing career guidance to young actors or those just getting into the business.  He also directs theatrical and industrial video productions through his own independent production company.

Doug studied acting with master teacher Cliff Osmond for 15 years and improv with the LA Connection. He began teaching commercial classes 12 years ago and theatrical classes in 2003.  He has also taught in San Francisco, Chicago, Oakland, Phoenix and Santa Barbara and recently returned from Tokyo where he taught American acting to Japanese students.

12 Comments

15 Comments

3 Ways to Better your Commercial Audition

Picture

Judy Kain has been a professional actress now for 37 years, showcasing her skills and talents in over 350 commercials and in over 80 roles for film and television.  

Some of her more well-known credits include a Television Series Regular on The Jackie Thomas Show and a Recurring role on the Emmy-winning show Mad Men, a role which won her a SAG Award.  Her other favorite recurring credits include Married with Children, For Your Love, Grosse Pointe, and Manhattan, AZ with Chad Everett.  She has done numerous guest appearances on the hit shows Modern Family, The Middle, Bones, Castle, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, ER, Seinfeld, The District, The West Wing, NYPD Blue, Friends, and The Drew Carey Show just to name a few.   Her teaching career has also lead to immense success, being voted BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE ON-CAMERA COMMERCIAL TEACHER IN LA in 2010 and 2011.  Her other acting classes have won BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE IN LA as well, and continue to produce amazing results for her students. She teaches Advanced Callback, Commercial A to Z and Commercial Wednesday Workouts.

15 Comments

6 Comments

4 Things Every Actor NEEDS to Figure Out If They Really Want to Work

Seriously…no matter where you are in your career, just starting out or entering a new category…before you have your headshots taken, or retaken…before you meet with an agent, or go into your current agent to discuss why you’re not going out more…before you go to any castings or more importantly, any casting workshops…if you want to work as an actor, you need to know your true image and marketability. In other words, understand who you are and exactly how you “fit” in the industry. BECAUSE…if you don’t “get” you, no one else is going to “get” you either.

You want an agent, a casting director, a director, etc., to look at your headshot or see you work and know exactly who you are and what they can do with you. A generic headshot, a generic performance, an audition in which you’re just trying to be what you think they want, will reap absolutely nothing. And if you think your headshot is going to land on someone’s desk and that they are going to snap you up and start developing you into a star…think again. No one has time for that anymore (unless you’re a breakout Disney tween).

So how exactly does one figure this all out? It’s not an easy process. Most of us have a difficult time exposing our true selves…and yet, it’s our true selves that set us apart from everyone else. In order to discover your true image and marketability, you need to be HONEST, REALISTIC, and SPECIFIC. This is why I strongly suggest actors seek help…and not from your mother, girlfriend, or roommate (they tend to tell us what we want to hear). You need someone who will keep you HONEST, REALISTIC, and SPECIFIC. Casting directors or consultants tend to keep it real…acting teachers are also a great resource since they not only know your work, but also know the business.

There are four steps to figuring out your image and marketability:

1.  Know your Type. It’s very simple: sex, age, physical description, and a couple main personality traits. Write a breakdown for yourself so that if a friend read it, he or she would immediately think of you…remember Honest, Realistic, and Specific.

2.  Know your Brand “Brand” just means what is unique and special about you. Think about it this way…when you’re at an audition and there are 25 actors all looking like you (same type) in the room, what do you bring to the party that they don’t? Be specific. I have dimples. I’m tall. I’m thin. I’m crazy. I have a rubber face. I am shy. I’m sensitive. I’m an excellent cook. I write poetry, etc.  Every aspect about you, both physical and personality-wise, sets you apart from all the others in the room making you unique and special within your type.

3.  Know the roles you can play TODAYNot what are the roles you want to play, or that you played five years ago, but what are the roles you can be cast in today? Watch television, movies, commercials, web series, etc. Look for actors your type, your age, and most importantly, your level of career. (If you are just starting out, you’re not about to be cast as the lead of a film.) Write these roles down, and make note of what those characters are wearing as well as their hair and makeup. If these are indeed the parts you will be auditioning for, you will want to incorporate those looks into your auditioning wardrobe (more on that another time.)

4.  Know what you will bring that is unique and special to each role.  Don’t make this more difficult than it is: take that list of roles that you can be cast in today and next to the role write down what is unique and special about you that you would bring to the role.  A very simple example would be for a role of “Mom.” Don’t try to think what kind of Mom are they looking for? What kind of mom are you in real life? (Even if you don’t have kids…how do you relate to children in your life?) Are you the mom that gets dirty with the kids? Or the mom that organizes everything right down to the last detail?  Playing your reality within the confines of the role will only deepen the character, so bring that “mom” to the audition, and definitely show that true image in your headshot session.

You are unique and special and awesome and amazing and no one can do you better than you. One gem of wisdom I try to impose on every actor I coach is this: You Are Enough. You don’t need to try to be what you think they want you to be, because in reality…they don’t know what they want. All agents, managers, casting directors, and directors want from the moment you walk in the room is an actor who knows who they are (image), knows what they have to offer (talent and marketability),  and who brings something unique and special to each role they play. They are looking for YOU…just make sure that you show up…to your headshot sessions, to workshops, to your meetings, to your auditions.

Now YOU get out there and start booking some jobs!

Picture

Tom Burke, working model and actor, teaches seminars and gives lectures on the importance of headshots and discovering an actor’s image. He is currently consulting and coaching at Keep It Real Acting Studios in North Hollywood, CA where he also teaches the exclusive classes: All-In-One Headshots Package and Not Just a Pretty Face

6 Comments

6 Comments

What is your Goal in an Audition?

Nancy Linari in Cascade's "Kitchen Counselor" campaign as the judgemental mother-in-law

Someone once told me that actors have the wrong goal at auditions. He wasn’t talking about the character’s needs and choices, but what the actor in the waiting room wants that day.

To get the job. Of course, we all want the job, but this means that 99% of the people in that room fail.

As actors, we can spend a lot of time trying to figure out what “they” - the producers, the director, the writers, the client – want. So we try to adjust things about ourselves - our looks, our voice, our clothes, even our age – to become what we think they want. Sometimes we succeed in this, but often our audition doesn’t ring true. You can see the acting, when all you want to see is the character.

What if instead, our goal was to show the powers that be how we would do this role? What unique things we bring to the party? This doesn’t mean we are going to get every job; we are not right for every job. But we can succeed at each audition. We can leave the room knowing that we did a good job and will be remembered for it. Good auditions are like energy, they live on.

Picture

Nancy Linari has been a professional actress for over 30 years.  Her work can be seen and heard in both commercials and animation, on television and radio; from Bones to Modern Family, from ABC’s animated The Addams Family (the sexy Morticia Addams) to the Academy Award nominated The Social Network (the cranky secretary to the president of Harvard.)  Nancy has appeared in hundreds of commercials including Cascade, Swiffer, Honda, McDonalds, Bisquick and Walgreens.  Her voice over work includes national campaigns for Advil, Taco Bell, Radio Shack, Wal-Mart and California Avocados. She also works extensively in video games and is an award-winning audiobook narrator.

At Keep it Real Acting she teaches Youth Classes, as well as Commercial Wednesday Workouts.

6 Comments

10 Comments

How to deal with that Summer Slump

Recently. I had a surge of work fall in my lap. Well perhaps there was some skill and perseverance involved in landing them. But since then I have hit a dry spell in the booking arena. And what I find for myself and the actors who come to work with me is, while in a slump, self doubt creeps in, along with a desperate attempt to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

My advice is to reflect on the feeling you had right after booking a job: the sense of accomplishment, the joy of success, the walk with head held slightly higher, the bounce in your step, etc. Remember that, and only that, when you approach the room of your next audition. Some good, positive, self talk as if you just got off the phone with your agent and hearing the news of a booking can be very helpful and
change your frame of mind. It can totally alter your mental state... and nothing looks better on an actor than a recent booking!

Take a nice breath, even in the room, to connect to your success and then start the scene. Then start the work that you love to do.... Acting! Remember it is fun! Auditions, when you give 100%, can be tremendously satisfying. When we are not looking at the final result and just doing the work, we open ourselves up to our creativity and, ultimately, surprise ourselves!

This is why you got into acting to begin with, because you have a gift, a passion for the craft. So make that more important.

I also suggest getting another perspective from a coach or teacher when in a slump. Get a private coaching for an hour and see if there
are some old habits you have slipped back into. Or, discover another way to approach the copy that you had not thought of. It is always helpful to keep sides you have auditioned for, and use those when coaching to help pinpoint areas to work on.

Many times all that is needed is a boost of confidence, reassurance that you are making good choices and committing to them. Rarely, do we get any feedback from auditions and acting in a vacuum, in your own head, can bring on a big dose of self doubt.

Workout groups are great as well. Anywhere you can have the chance to get up and do copy and practice your craft is worth it. So when your agent does call, you are ready as rain to show up. ​Keep it Real Acting offers ​workouts every week, both Commercially and Theatrically.

Finally, take advantage of a get away this summer! A sure way to book a job is always to plan a trip; or if you can't get away, make a fun lunch date with a friend, or get that treat you've been denying yourself for a month.

Acting is a longevity game, and a slump can be put to good use if you use it wisely; reassess, get into that class, make a little time for fun, and then move forward. Remember, be kind to yourself and acknowledge your victories, because it's a surefire way to coast you to the next one.

Picture

Judy Kain has been a professional actress now for 37 years, (350+ commercials, 80+ Film/TV roles). She founded Keep it Real Acting, a studio dedicated to helping actors succeed in the business.

Read Her full bio here. She recently starred in a 26 commercial Campaign for STARZ, where she played a Superhero Hotline Operator.

She teaches Commercial A to Z, Advanced Callback and Wednesday Workouts at Keep it Real Acting.

10 Comments

16 Comments

Judy Kain and Amy Lyndon discuss the secrets of Commercial Booking

Happy June Everyone!

I recently sat down with my good friend Amy Lyndon, where we talked about everything from from our recent work to the secrets we've found that help us book those jobs.

I've uploaded the entire conversation below so that you too can learn the secrets of commercial booking!

Enjoy,

Judy Kain

Picture

Amy Lyndon is a Multi-Award winning Actress, Director, Producer, Writer, International Booking Coach and CEO of the Lyndon Technique. Lyndon has 40+ films to her credit including; “And They’re Off” opposite Sean Astin, "The House That Jack Built” opposite Joe Mantegna, and "The Poughkeepsie Tapes" for MGM. On TV, she Guest Starred in over 30+ TV shows: “Adopting Terror” for Lifetime, “Law and Order: LA,” “Eagleheart” w/ Chris Elliot, “NCIS,” "Ugly Betty," "Entourage," "NYPD Blue," "JAG," Recurring in “Days Of Our Lives,” “The Bold and the Beautiful," "General Hospital," & "Young and The Restless." She Teaches Cold Reading & Booking Classes at The Lyndon Technique.

Picture

Judy Kain has been a professional actress now for 37 years, (350+ commercials, 80+ Film/TV roles). She founded Keep it Real Acting, a studio dedicated to helping actors succeed in the business. Read Her full bio here. She recently starred in a 26 commercial Campaign for STARZ, where she played a Superhero Hotline Operator.

She teaches Commercial A to Z, Advanced Callback and Wednesday Workouts at Keep it Real Acting.

16 Comments