More and more we are getting requests for talent to have improv experience. They may not specifically say it – but read between the lines in the audition specs. Did the client ask for “something unique”, “facial reactions”, “fun personalities”, “good timing”, or a “comedy background”? They are really asking for someone to be comfortable with IMPROV!

In commercials, most of the content is said by the VO talent, that means the majority of ON-CAMERA talent is acting through facial expressions and reactions. The more comfortable you are with your body, face and movements… the more comfortable you will look on camera.

Some of the key principles of improv are:

Be Prepared, Warm Up: Even in commercial work, it is important to take a minute to prepare for your audition. Make sure you have read all the information well in advance, have memorized your lines if need be, have your headshot and resume printed in advance, and have your wardrobe ready to go. Once in the audition space – take a few deep breaths – shed the stress of the drive in traffic and don’t think about the rest of the crowded room. Only think about what is needed for YOU.

Listen: Listen when the director/casting director gives you a suggestion. Take a minute, process it, and react. Listen when your partner is speaking – actually speak back to them, don’t just recite lines to them.

Action Beats Inaction: Don’t just stand there and say/do nothing!! Act and react. Make specific choices for your character.

Be Honest: Don’t censor your initial thoughts. If you have a gut reaction, it is likely the most natural reaction for you… try it!

Trust: Trust your impulses and your choices. Also – trust those of your scene partner. Build off them, weave them together… make up a great story!

YES AND… The most commonly known principle in improv is “yes, and…”. You never say no. Accept what is happening and make it part of your reality and create around it.

Improv doesn’t mean you are a stand up comedian or the guy with the best one-liners. The talent who are great with improv can see comedic timing in a script and they can feel the places where a reaction can be placed.

If you are interested in learning more about improv – we are lucky to have some AMAZING improv theater groups in town that offer classes. Take a peek at:

Brave New Workshop Student Unionhttp://studentunion.bravenewworkshop.com/

Huge Improvhttp://www.hugetheater.com/classes/

Stevie Ray’s Improvhttp://www.stevierays.org/improv_comedy_classes.html

Comedy Sportzhttp://www.comedysportztc.com/classes.php

 

 

 

Hello All,

Time for my first blog post. It’s funny, ‘cause I waltz around the office day after day and say, “Boy, I wish everyone knew…”, “Or, I hope people remember to….”. Hmmmm. This is probably a great way to get the information out to you.

I had some thoughts on, well, making your agent’s life easier. Right. I know, I know. You are all officially invited to send comments about what would make a TALENT’S life easier, and we will listen! I think it would make a great post. Seriously, send in your thoughts, and we’ll do that one next.

For now, just a few little things that’ll help us out in the TP office, and the reasons they would help:

  1. When you receive an email about an audition, read the WHOLE thing before you respond. Everything you need to know is going to be in that email (unless I forget to attach whatever attachment I said I would attach, and someone usually let’s me know about that fairly quickly). We’ve had some cases lately where people have signed up for an audition, and then, FROM the audition, have called or emailed and said, “Oh, I can’t make this shoot date.” Um. That doesn’t make anybody happy. Your time has been wasted, someone else could’ve had your audition spot, and although the casting directors in town know we’re not dummies here at TP, we look kinda dumb. Our lovely casting directors do an excellent job of giving us all the information they want you to have in order to do a fantastic audition. So don’t make yourself and us look silly by not reading all the information provided.
  2. If you miss a phone call from us, please listen to the call before calling back. We’ve most likely left all the information you need in the phone call, and it’s just nice not to have to repeat it again when you call back and say, “Oh, I just missed your call…what’s up?” I know it’s a little thing, but when we’re juggling lists and names and auditions and bookings, it’s great to have someone prepared and ready to go on the phone.
  3. I know people probably get disappointed when we send out an audition notice to more people than we have time slots for, and miss getting in on the audition. The way to beat that wrap is to respond right away! Even if you don’t think you need to respond quickly because, oh, say the audition is 3 days away, and it looks like we have plenty of time to get that taken care of, you should respond quickly! As soon as we get that audition booked full of people, two neat things can happen: we can move onto preparing other auditions, and, on occasion, if we show the casting directors that we’re Johnny-on-the-Spot and get things taken care of very quickly, they may give us additional times, so we can send more of our terrific talent.

I may be repeating things that you’ve already heard, but they are important. When you do a fabulous job at an audition, that reflects well not only on you, but on Talent Poole, and on your Talent Poole co-representees (just made that up); and that’s good all the way around.

 

Did you just get a call for a BIG audition? Great! Dance around your living room, do a couple fist pumps and then take a deep breath. You’ve gotten in the door – that is half the battle. Now, let’s wow them with your amazing professionalism and great audition.

Here are some really simple things to do that make you look like a ROCK STAR!! I know they sound like common sense…. but you will be surprised how often they are forgotten!!

BEFORE AGREEING TO THE AUDITION:

  1. Read the entire audition notice.
  2. Make sure you are available for the audition, the callback and the shoot date.
  3. Confirm your selected audition times with your agent.
  4. Open, read and understand all audition material – scripts, storyboards, videos, pictures. Do this AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE THE AUDITION NOTICE. Don’t leave it til 11PM the night before the audition. There may be some things that need preparation time!

BEFORE YOU WALK IN THE AUDITION ROOM:

  1. Arrive ON TIME. Not super early. Not late. ON TIME. You were given a time to be there for a reason. When you arrive much earlier, the person you are meeting with may not be ready for you, they may not have a waiting area, they are in the middle of 15 other things… Being way too early is NOT helpful. Being late is not only rude, but also disrespectful of everyone involved. If you know you are going to be late – CALL YOUR AGENT. Let them know and they can let your audition know.
  2. Have your agent’s phone number in your phone for such emergencies.
  3. Have the directions, phone numbers, and all audition info with you. Don’t leave it to chance or your memory!
  4. When you arrive at a large audition – be polite and nice to the receptionist and helpers. They remember you and they are the future casting agents and producers!
  5. Do not bring your children with you to auditions - waiting rooms and receptionists are not babysitters.
  6. Fill out your paperwork COMPLETELY. Fill out every question asked to the fullest amount.
  7. Casting Agents want true height/weight/sizes on the audition form. (the wardrobe stylist works off this sheet)
  8. Casting Agents need detailed AVAILABILITY (they plan the shoot dates and times around this). If you can be flexible and make it work. Put that you are available… but be prepared to make it really work. If you need an out time for rehearsals or a show put that so the production can be prepared.
  9. Once you have filled out your audition paperwork, sit down and be quiet. This is not a time to visit with everyone else in the room. It’s not happy hour. Everyone there is or should be concentrating on the work they are about to do.
  10. Always bring a copy of your HEADSHOT and RESUME. Even if it wasn’t specifically asked for… you never know when it is needed. Keep these things current.
  11. Fill out your Casting Frontier Profile and keep it current. More and more casting agents are asking this of talent… make this a part of your marketing scheme!

IN THE AUDITION ROOM:

  1. Walk into the audition room with a smile. Be CONFIDENT!
  2. PRACTICE your SLATE before the audition! Your name and your agency should be a statement… not a question! Be comfortable in your own skin… this is the time for you to show the camera, casting agent, and client who YOU are. SMILE!
  3. ALWAYS be prepared with the material the agents send you, we give you all this information to HELP YOU, please take the time to work with it. Memorize the script. Learn the storyboards. Check out the reference videos/pictures. BUT – be prepared to improvise if needed.
  4. Wear the appropriate wardrobe – you should be able to tell what is appropriate from the scripts, storyboards, or job description.
  5. THANK them for seeing you. Do not shake hands (unless the clients get up to do so first). SMILE!

Remember to take notes afterwards of what happened at the audition – keep track of client, product, producer, agency, role, etc.
Your agent will notify you if you are selected for a callback or for the role. We do not know that info for days usually, since the selects need to be approved by several people. If you are wondering, you can always send us an email… we may not have any info though!

Don’t forget to have a fun in your audition and show them how awesome you are – we obviously thought you were great enough to get the call. :)

We want you to succeed and the best part of our job is calling to tell you that YOU ARE BOOKED!!!

 

We get tons of questions about headshots… there is never an easy answer and every person is different. We can only tell you what WE LIKE and what we see working. You, as the talent, have to be comfortable with your shot and be confident when passing out your photo.

Here are some tips that I have gathered from my experience, from research and from chatting with other professionals.

  1. Your headshot should LOOK LIKE YOU!!! I shouldn’t have any problem recognizing you from your headshot when you walk into my office.
  2. In the MN Market – we like color, smiling, natural headshots. Nothing too dramatic, model-y or avant-garde. We want commercial, comfortable, confident and friendly.
  3.  Make sure that you look like you do… Naturally. If you wear your hair curly more often than not – try doing your pictures with your hair like that. If you never curl your hair, don’t curl it for the pics because you think it looks better that way. LOOK LIKE THE BEST VERSION OF EVERYDAY YOU.
  4. Smile! We love smiling pictures, the thing is… it has to look natural, confident and not pushy.
  5. Makeup … keep your make up really natural. No pageant bright lipstick, no trendy different colored eye shadow. NATURAL. Even men should use powder to even out and everyone could use chapstick!
  6. The poses… make sure you are vocal enough in your session to get a bunch of different poses and shot widths (3/4, waist up, shoulders up, close up).  Don’t have a session of 100 shots all the same. Such a waste of $$$.
  7. If you are able to have a couple of shirt changes, that is great. Here are some wardrobe tips: No Bold Patterns, No Logos, No Spaghetti Straps, No Ruffles or puffy sleeves that add bulk. Wear black, bright jewel tones, or colored neutrals like blue, green or red. Avoid white. Wear something you are comfortable in. Keep jewelry to minimum – no large accessory pieces. They become the focus, not you. Make sure your clothes FIT properly. Especially men. We don’t want to see a big collared shirt bunched around your shoulders, we want to see YOU! Make sure your clothes are clean, tailored, wrinkle free and lint free.
  8. Outdoor lighting is great!
  9. If you have dark hair – DON’T have a dark background… you disappear.
  10. Guys – with facial hair – make sure it is neat and trimmed. If you are in-between stages… make a commitment. No scruff or skinny mustaches. It looks weird.

Yes – a good photographer is going to do a lot of the work getting you a great headshot. They are going to make sure you are lit properly, have a good background, and are framed properly. But YOU should be aware of these things as well. Do some research – find shots that you like and take them with you. Explore with your photographer why you like them – is it the lighting, the smile, the energy, the color?

Most importantly – HAVE FUN!! We want to see that you are having fun in your session, that your smiles are genuine and the sparkle in your eye is true. ;)

 

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of teaching one of the classes for Talent Poole – The Dos and Don’ts of the Biz. The talent and I went out into the courtyard to soak up the sun while we got down to business. The class was filled with talent that were brand new to Talent Poole to folks that had been with us since we opened our doors 16 years ago. We spent the afternoon talking about the quirks of the entertainment industry, here are some of the highlights!

  • The Hierarchy of the Advertising Industry: Do you know how many people have to approve the decision to hire you? A TON!
  • Resume and Headshot Pointers: What makes a headshot stand out? Comfort, friendliness AND I should recognize you the instant you walk in the door. Your headshot should look like the best version of the “everyday you.” Resumes – highlight the most important and interesting jobs – get rid of the clutter. Make an impression!
  • Treat this as your BUSINESS (even if you have 2 or 3 other jobs): Remember names, keep track of your progress, and always work at improving.
  • Be the easiest person in the world to work with: Be available, be prepared, read emails completely, answer promptly, be polite and gracious, be kind.
  • Keep us updated – send us reminders of what you are working on, what classes you are taking, when you are going to be out-of-town. Not only does it keep us informed, it keeps your name on the top of my mind!
  • Don’t do anything you have to apologize for – on set, in an audition, or at our office!

What I liked best about the class was that I got to spend the hour getting to know 10 talent, that I may not have known very well. The more I know about our talent, the better I can represent them. And… in this business you have to constantly work on the business and the craft. You are never done learning.

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