Picture this: new year and new you who is absolutely booking commercials left right and centre because you know exactly what casting directors want to see. Sounds good, right? Whether you’re a trained actor, model or influencer who’s looking to get more work on the TV screen in 2023, commercials are one of the best ways to do it.
Not only do commercials pay pretty dang well, they’re also a great way to get your face out there and attract the attention of influential casting directors in the industry. You know what that means? More networking and more booked jobs.
The truth is when it comes to casting calls, commercial auditions can be challenging. Whether it’s in-person or online, you don’t often get a lot of time to prepare, you don’t really get much background info on your “character” and sometimes all you get to impress a casting director is saying your name, age, height and location and that’s it!
So, how do you impress a casting director to make sure you book that job (or if not this job then at least have them remember your name and face for the next job)? Here are 5 commercial audition tips and what casting directors are looking for in 2023 (both in-person and online).
#1 Follow instructions perfectly
This seems obvious but not following instructions can have you dismissed as a potential option before you’ve even opened your mouth. Whether it’s in-person or a self-tape, read everything sent to you and follow it step by step. Everything you need to successfully complete the audition will be sent to you prior, and if it seems like something’s missing (like a script!), of course reach out for more information but comercial castings are typically as simple as possible, so make sure you keep it simple yourself and follow the instructions sent to you. As an actor, there’s certainly a time and place for making a script your own and putting your own flair, but when it comes to commercial casting, don’t make assumptions about what the casting director wants to see – just follow the instructions!
#2 Beat the deadline
If you’re auditioning virtually or sending in a self-tape, do it as soon as possible – beat the deadline if you can. When auditioning for a commercial, you’re competing against hundred if not thousands of people who fit the brief just like you, so if someone gets in front of a casting director before you do and they love what they see, well, you might have just missed out on your chance all because you didn’t get there first. As soon as a commercial audition lands in your inbox, get your self-tape in straight away.
#3 Nail your slate
Your slate needs to be perfect, so much so that you can say it backwards and forwards and never falter. If you’re new to the world of commercial auditioning, your slate is the first thing you say/tape and it includes all the essentials like your name, age, heigh, agency representation and where you’re based. Sometimes casting directors want to know a little fun fact about you/your hobbies etc. so you can throw that in quickly at the end too. Your slate is the first thing casting directors hear you say and watch you deliver so it has to be perfect – if they don’t like what they see in the slate, it’s highly unlikely they’ll watch your actual audition.
#4 Chat with the casting director
We’re all humans at the end of the day, and a little bit of natural connection can go a long way in making an impact on the casting director. It shows your human side and it makes you memorable at the same time. Connections are vital in every industry – from influencer marketing to acting, modelling and beyond. The thing is, casting directors see countless actors everyday, and the ones who take the time to chat, smile and be personable are the ones who will be remembered. Of course, this can be more difficult with online auditions but the power of a smile and friendly “hello” can transcend all mediums.
#5 Look straight into the camera
Typically with most commercial auditions you’ll be asked to speak directly to the camera, and while this can seem uncomfortable at first, casting directors are really looking to see if you can connect with the camera. Try to imagine the camera as your best friend or someone you have a great relationship with. With commercials, connecting with the camera equals establishing trust with the viewer – and that is everything when it comes to commercials because we buy things from people we trust – and that really is the end goal of commercials. It can certainly be hard at first but the more you practise (even by doing it with your phone at home), the easier it will become.
#6 BONUS tip: Film in landscape
While we may live in the age of social media where all videos are shot portrait (vertically), when you’re sending in a video audition or self-tape it needs to be shot in landscape (horizontally). Centre yourself in the middle of the camera, and film from about belly button up. Whatever you do, make sure a friend films you or better yet, use a tripod. Do not film your self-tape/audition as a selfie!
Don’t overthink – just be your charming & personable self
The one thing people don’t often tell in the TV commercial industry is that you don’t have to be a trained actor to book a commercial. Casting directors are typically looking for everyday people who are relatable – people who viewers will watch on TV and think “Hey, they’re just like me.” If viewers can put themselves in your shoes, they’re more likely to trust you and want to buy whatever product it is you’re selling. So, just be yourself (with the charm dialled up), connect with the casting director and you’ll be well on your way to getting booked.