Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Getting IN the Room

The goal of every actor out here is of course to act, to be working.  But, before that can happen, you've got to get in the room.  The Audition Room.  You have to get in front of casting directors, so that they can see your talent and hopefully put you in front of producers/directors either in person or on tape.  This 'getting in the room' is one of the bigger challenges actors face.  And once you get in the room, the challenge is doing well enough that you will be brought back in the future... 

A friend from back home (big thanks, Marcus!) recently got me in touch with a casting director out here, Sara Isaacson, who was looking for somewhat to help her out with taping audition sessions.  I gladly jumped at the opportunity to see the casting process from the other side!  And though it wasn't my own audition, it is still good to get in the room to see other actors work, see a CD go through her process, etc.  I went in last Friday to tape a session and then I returned Monday as well to help out.  It was very, very insightful, but I must admit a little intimidating and depressing.  Not the session itself; that was a lot of fun to see -- many talented actors all bringing different things to the same roles, the CD and director giving things to the actors to try (some of which works wonderfully, and some not so much...) 

The actual intimidating part was what Sara showed me prior to the session.  She gave me a brief overview of the way her process works as far as sending out the breakdowns and then deciding who to bring in from agent/manager submissions.  This particular audition session was for a network web series, so Sara said the submission numbers were less than say for a network TV show (she spent many years on ER and also works on Fringe), but there were still hundreds!  Hundreds of tiny headshots that she had to scroll through -- at a very fast clip -- looking for who to bring in.  And, of course, unless she knows you or your work, she's not going to waste one of the few coveted time slots on you. 

So, I was able to see firsthand just how important it is to 1) have representation -- without that, you don't even make it into the hundreds of submissions 2) build relationships with casting directors -- so when a tiny picture of your head pops up amongst the throng of photos on their submission pages, they stop and think, "hmm... yeah, maybe he'd be good for this, I should bring him in..." and 3) kick some butt when you get in that room!  if you aren't GREAT, or memorable in a good way, why would they call you in down the road?

The experience of helping Sara out has also made me realize how important it is to be driving your own career.  Yes, it is vital to get representation and to get solid credits, but instead of just waiting for those to happen, you really need to be doing your own thing in the meantime -- theatre, web stuff, shorts, doing anything with the talented people around you that showcases your abilities...


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