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Commercial Audition Basics From Casting Director Laurie Records

Commercial Audition Basics From Casting Director Laurie Records

An on-camera audition, is an audition, is an audition, right? While there are similarities between all types of auditions, there are differences you can count on, and should know. Knowledge is power, and knowing what to expect brings ease, comfort and confidence. Comfortable and confident actors book commercials. 

Commercial actors should never expect their commercial audition to be like a film/TV audition. 

I always say that commercials vs. theatrical jobs are apples and oranges. They are really quite different. I guess there should be no surprise that the audition process is different as well. Since actors tend to get their start in student films, the default seems to be that all auditions should function like film auditions. They don’t.

 

Timing on audition notices

Commercially, the time between receiving your audition notice and the actual commercial audition is short. Ideally, you get the notice the business day before your audition, and usually before 5:30 PM or so. Although, the timing has been changing, and I don’t mean in your favor. You may get the notice after hours the night before and it’s only more and more common to receive same day auditions. There are many reasons for this, but let’s skip this discussion for now. I’ll just stick to the turnaround being quick. Theatrical (film and television) auditions tend to get your audition appointment to you with more notice. Several days has been the norm, however, this is changing as well. It’s a speedy industry we are in, increasingly both commercially and theatrically. Being able to accommodate this is imperative. Know that you will need to prepare for your commercial audition quickly… overnight or in a few hours. 

 

Wardrobe

Wardrobe is wildly important in commercials. Read wardrobe instructions carefully and follow as completely as possible. Really specific wardrobe in commercials can be for roles from a certain era: ’50s, ’70s, ’80s, or even colonial times. When being seen for a doctor in a commercial, a lab coat is frequently requested, and even when it isn’t, I’d bring one along and ask if you should wear it. A Best Buy or fast-food employee should be wearing a polo and khakis. When being seen for a commercial role of cheerleader, you should arrive in a cheerleading uniform. At this moment in time in commercial land, we are leaning strongly toward “costume” in some instances. Always think of wardrobe in terms of being able to leave the audition and go straight to set. That’s what we are looking for. In theatrical auditions, while wardrobe is important, I believe we are still in the suggesting/hinting-at-what-you-might-wear-on-set realm. Theatrical audition wardrobe isn’t as on the nose. If you don’t already have the wardrobe for your strongest commercial types in your closet, go out and get them.

 

Questions about the copy

When you have a question about understanding the commercial copy, ask. Oftentimes there is a correct answer, and you’d certainly want to know it. When you receive theatrical sides, you won’t always have the context to absolutely know what’s going on. Theatrically, the common sentiment is to make a strong choice with the material you are given and have access to, and commit to it. With commercial copy, you will waste a precious take when making a wrong choice, due to a lack of understanding, that could easily be answered with a proactive ask. You want ALL the takes possible, filled with great choices, with the time you are given. Why?…

 

Length of audition

Commercial auditions are quick. It varies, but think five or so minutes, total. Theatrical audition slots tend to be longer. There are exceptions to this — co-star auditions are the first that come to mind — but it’s generally true. So, take a deep breath and don’t let the quick in-and-out feel of the commercial audition cause you to rush. Commercial actors are regularly guilty of rushing through their audition. It’s up to the casting office staff to keep things running at a clip. It’s up to you to be great, and that doesn’t involve speeding through copy/scenario, ever.

 

Sides

In Los Angeles commercial auditions, we rarely let you hang on to your copy. It’s usually written on a cue card located just slightly off camera. Why is this important to know? Reading copy off a cue card is a thing! A skill! Theatrical auditions tend to go with the ol’ hold on to the copy, grab the sentence off the page, look up and deliver. Very different. I always advocate memorizing your commercial copy, but learning to use a cue card is invaluable for commercial auditions. 

 

Headshots

I think we are all (commercially and theatrically) getting away from collecting a hardcopy headshot and résumé at your audition. I never say never, but commercially, we next to never accept headshots at an audition. Don’t even offer them. If we want them, we will let you know. Have one (yes, literally one) in your car and that should last you a really, really long time. Theatrically, you will want to have one when on you (or in the car) when you walk into the office. Some casting offices still ask for them. Surely that will only be less and less as the days go by.

 

Self-tape

Self-tape requests are far more common theatrically than commercially… but the commercial world is catching on to the self-tape being a money-saving option in casting. Start exploring what a great commercial self-tape might look like and take steps to make that quick turnaround possible for yourself. 

 

Having accurate expectations for your commercial audition is always helpful. Knowing what’s likely coming your way will provide a level of comfort. If your audition experience is largely in the theatrical realm, remembering the key differences will only benefit you.

 

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Laurie Records (Casting Director, CCDA) has been working in the commercial realm since 2004. In 2009, Laurie launched her own company. While she casts all types of commercials, she has broadened her horizons to include casting web content for network television, television hosts, and industrials, and she dabbles in film from time to time. Recent commercial jobs include: Clorox, Toyota, Frito-Lay, DIRECTV, Smithfield and Google. She also cast the new Movie Surfers for seasons 16-18, as well as online content for The Muppets. Laurie teaches a 4-week commercial class almost every month and attends Los Angeles theater regularly.

 

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Casting Director Karen Armstrong Teaches ‘Actor Etiquette 101’

Casting Director Karen Armstrong Teaches ‘Actor Etiquette 101’

In this installment of Actor Etiquette 101, we’re exploring the best practices for actors when it comes to communicating with casting and auditioning in and out of the room. Casting Networks sat down with Karen Armstrong to talk about everything from self-tapes to the appropriate frequency of reaching out to casting. Armstrong is a strong presence in the commercial world and has worked with big clients like Wells Fargo and Epson. Theatrically, she’s known for films such as the star-studded 10th & Wolf and the drama Beyond the Farthest Star. Between her impressive body of work and decades in the industry, Armstrong has a lot of knowledge to draw from when it comes to answering questions on etiquette. Actors, take note.

 

What etiquette should actors keep in mind when reaching out to casting or keeping in touch? 

As far as building a relationship with a casting director and staying in touch with one, social media is super easy. I happen to be very old-fashioned, though, in that I like the personal touch of receiving a card in the mail. A photo business card should be enclosed because I want to be able to associate a face with a name. Every casting director has their preferred method of communication, whether it be snail mail, social media or email. But regardless of how they’re doing it, actors should keep in mind the rate at which they reach out. It should not be every week or every single month. Holidays are good opportunities for actors to send a note, and they can be used as markers so that actors aren’t reaching out too frequently.

 

How about in the audition room? 

Be professional. If you were interviewing for a corporate job, you would dress for the position and have a professional air about you. It’s a good analogy for an audition. You have to keep in mind that your agent promotes you to us, but we have to promote you to our bosses, the director and the producer. And this applies to self-tapes, too. Some actors don’t treat them with the same importance as in-person sessions. Between services you can pay for and the ability to inexpensively set up your own home studio, there’s no excuse for crummy video. That includes distractions, like dogs running around or a TV playing in the background. A poor-quality submission relays the message that you don’t care about the opportunity. Also, send your self-tape in as soon as possible. That allows for any redirects I might want you to make on it, and then you have a buffer in case of any technical difficulties. 

If given the opportunity for an in-person session, always take it. Each time you come in for an audition, you’re building a relationship and a rapport with that casting director.  Be the kind of person that somebody would want to be stuck with on set for 12 hours. Avoid loose chatter in the room. I’ve had people go into personal details during a session, such as how their divorce is going. That crosses the professional line. Keeping things professional in an audition means: You are pleasant when you enter the room, you hit your mark, you say your lines, and you leave the room when they have what they need. 

 

What about after the session?

I advise hanging out in the waiting room for a little bit. A lot of times, actors rush off after their auditions. But if you’ve really nailed it, especially if it’s a producer’s session, you want to hang back for a bit to really make sure that they don’t need you again. Maybe they have questions for you or want to give you an extra page. But if you take off and leave the building, we’re not going to chase you down. It’s happened more times than I can tell you, where the director has said, “Can you see if they’re still here?” I’ll go out into the waiting room and find that they’ve pulled a Houdini. They’re gone. 

 

What should actors keep in mind after booking a project? 

If an actor wants to express gratitude, a simple card is appreciated.  If you want to send a gift, don’t make it too big. I’ve gotten really expensive, extreme gifts in the past, and it makes me feel uncomfortable. But I’ve also gotten some really unique things that are simply thoughtful. For example, someone sent me a packet of seeds in the spring that was enclosed in a card with the message, “Thank you for helping me grow my career.”

 

Anything else on etiquette that actors should know?

I think the way you view casting directors is so important because it affects how you carry yourself in the audition room, as well as the way you interact with casting in general. The casting director is there to help you be the best that you can be. If the actor can simply change their perspective and see us as their helper, it will create the most positive paradigm shift in their career. A casting director can be your greatest asset if you just remain open to suggestions. We want you to be wonderful, and we will make our best attempt to help you deliver your best performance. There is no need for nerves or fear of judgment — we are your ally, not judge and jury.

Actors can keep Armstrong’s etiquette lessons in mind the next time they audition or submit a self-tape. They’ll know the best practices to follow when reaching out to casting directors or thanking them for a booking. And through all of their interactions with casting, actors can remember that the people behind the profession are rooting for their success. Put these lessons from Armstrong into practice to become a star student of “Actor Etiquette 101” and perhaps one day, a star of the screen.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

 

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From ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ to ‘Stumptown,’ Recent Wins for Inclusion 

From ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ to ‘Stumptown,’ Recent Wins for Inclusion 

Zack Gottsagen made history at this year’s Academy Awards as the first person with Down syndrome to be a presenter at the ceremony. It got us thinking of other recent wins for inclusion and representation of actors with disabilities. Check out three projects that made our list, including the 2019 film in which Gottsagen starred opposite his co-presenter at the Oscars, Shia LaBeouf. 

 

The Peanut Butter Falcon

The film stars Gottsagen as Zak, a man who wants to be a pro-wrestler and escapes his care home to pursue his dreams. During a Deadline panel, writer-directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz explained how Gottsagen inspired the character of Zak. Nilson shared that they’d been volunteering at a camp in Venice, California when they first met Gottsagen. They learned that he’d studied acting and wanted to be in a feature film. Nilson recalled that they wanted to give the talented actor his shot because “he’s got the comedic timing and chops.” In an interview with Variety, Schwartz addressed a pivotal scene in the film in which Zak saves his friend Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), shifting the narrative. “I think it was really important for us [Nilson, Schwartz and Gottsagen] to have Zak as a three-dimensional character and his own hero within the story,” said Schwartz. During an appearance on Good Morning America, Gottsagen was asked how he felt about the movie. The actor responded with his feelings on it and also shared his passion, stating, “I hope I can change the world.”

 

Stumptown

The new ABC series centers on Dex Parios (Cobie Smulders), a former Marine who discovers her knack for private investigation. Cole Sibus, who has Down syndrome, landed the recurring role of playing Dex’s brother Ansel. Sibus got his start in front of the camera with the A&E docuseries Born This Way and went on to play Arrow in the 2018 drama Spare Room. The actor is also a long-time Special Olympics Southern California athlete, and in an interview with the organization, Sibus shared how he felt about his latest role: “Stumptown focuses on what I can do, not what I can’t do. The role is about Ansel’s heart and personality, not his disability,” said Sibus. 

 

Everything’s Gonna Be Okay

The new Freeform series follows a man in his 20s who takes on the role of caregiver for his two half-sisters after their father’s untimely death. Kayla Cromer plays his half-sister Matilda and shared during a Freeform press event last year that like her character, she is on the autism spectrum. In an interview with Bustle, the actor explained that when projects cast neurotypical actors to play autistic characters, it sends the message that actors with autism don’t exist. With that in mind, Cromer acknowledged that her own casting was a win for inclusion. “By hiring an on-the-spectrum actress to play [Matilda], it just makes the performance more accurate and more honest and more respectful,” said the actor. 

 

While projects such as The Peanut Butter Falcon, Stumptown, and Everything’s Gonna Be Okay are recent examples of inclusion, it’s important that positive steps forward continue. With that in mind, we’re looking forward to the upcoming musical Best Summer Ever. IMDb describes it as “a fresh and exhilarating take on the beloved teen musical genre featuring eight original songs and a fully integrated cast and crew of people with and without disabilities.” The film is slated to release in March and will star Gottsagen. 

 

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Production Hubs: San Francisco

Production Hubs: San Francisco

When you think of the entertainment industry in California, your mind might automatically go to Los Angeles. However, you’d be overlooking the important local market in the northern part of the state. San Francisco has been the production home to classics like Vertigo, The Rock and Mrs. Doubtfire. And the industry hub is still bustling. Shows like 13 Reasons Why and Tales of the City film in the area, as well as a number of upcoming features. Keep reading to find out more about the Bay Area casting directors behind these projects and more, as well as what they’re up to next. 

 

Nina Henninger Casting

Nina Henninger has a number of impressive film credits under her name, such as Blue Jasmine, Fruitvale Station and Bumblebee. Recently, she did the San Francisco casting for Jexi, starring Adam Devine, and A24’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco. As for series, she’s helped cast shows like Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, 13 Reasons Why and Tales of the City. Henninger has multiple projects on the horizon, as well. For example, she’s listed as the casting director for the dramedy feature in development entitled My Golden Year, which has Melissa Leo attached. Actors interested in learning more about Nina Henninger Casting can check out the company’s website. There they can find the names of some big industrial, print and commercial clients it’s worked with as well. The company also has a Facebook page where it periodically posts casting searches.

 

Nancy Hayes Casting 

Nancy Hayes’ film credits run long. One notable title she cast is The Boat Builder, an adventure family film starring Christopher Lloyd. She also contributed to the extras casting of big name films such as Beautiful Boy and Terminator Genisys, which both shot in San Francisco. As for series credits, the Lifetime Television crime drama The Division, whose cast included a young Jon Hamm and Taraji P. Henson, lists Hayes as a casting director. It may come as no surprise that the series filmed in San Francisco as well. Hayes has an upcoming project that actors should keep on their radars: a drama feature entitled Suspended Belief. The casting director also has a strong presence in commercial, print and industrial casting. Actors can check out the brands with whom the company has worked on the Nancy Hayes Casting site. The site also provides the tip that the company cannot be found on Facebook or Twitter. Hayes’ LinkedIn page offers some potential areas of connection for actors, though, such as information on her alma mater and the interesting degree she earned from it. 

 

Gregg Cohen Casting

Gregg Cohen is a casting director who prefers to stay off the grid. You won’t find a website for Gregg Cohen Casting, nor will you find the company on social media. There is a website for the casting studio that Cohen owns, Das Studio, but it doesn’t include any additional information about the casting director. Cohen said in an interview with Casting Networks that she’s not interested in self-promotion and doesn’t advertise. “I’m really lucky to be working with mainly repeat and referral clients,” Cohen shares. Said clients are impressive names, to say the least. Facebook, Amazon, and Apple are among a number of big brands with whom her company has worked. Actors interested in commercial work should especially keep Cohen in mind, as she is a strong force in the world of commercial casting.

 

Kristen Beck Casting

Kristen Beck also possesses an impressive commercial resume, and she’s another San Francisco casting director that actors should know. The commercials that Beck casts can generate a lot of buzz, with one example being Airbnb’s 2017 Super Bowl spot. Other impressive brands like Yahoo, Visa, and Google make the long list of clients with whom she’s worked. Actors interested in connecting with the busy casting director can request to join the Kristen Beck Casting Facebook group. Further connection points can be gleaned from the impressive heritage that Beck shared with Casting Networks. For example, she happens to be the daughter of actress Gail Billings, whose credits include titles such as They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and Bonanza. This industry connection may come as no surprise since the San Francisco casting director is originally from Los Angeles. And she brings extensive experience to the northern California production hub, as she’s been casting by herself for 20 years.

 

Nina Henninger Casting

Nina Henninger has a number of impressive films under her name, and she often partners with Sarah Kliban for theatrical castings, such as Blue Jasmine, Fruitvale Station and Bumblebee. Recently, they worked together on the San Francisco casting for Jexi, starring Adam Devine, and A24’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco. The latter even won its casting team an Artios as this year’s awards show. As for series, both Henninger and Kliban have helped cast shows like Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, 13 Reasons Why and Tales of the City. The casting directors have multiple projects on the horizon, as well. For example, Henninger is listed as the casting director for the dramedy feature in development entitled My Golden Year, which has Melissa Leo attached. Actors interested in learning more about Nina Henninger Casting can check out the company’s website. There they can find the names of some big industrial, print and commercial clients it’s worked with as well. The company also has a Facebook page where it periodically posts casting searches. Kliban is the founder and principal casting director of Diversity Casting, and actors can visit the company’s website to find out more about its niche area of foreign-language and diverse casting, as well as the various projects it has cast. More information on Kliban can be gleaned from her LinkedIn page, which lists an impressive range of skills that includes being a licensed minister.

 

San Francisco has a lot to offer actors when it comes to the number of projects that film there. Should you find yourself shooting in the northern California city, be sure to explore as much as possible. “The Golden City” is a travel destination for a reason. Perhaps you’ll tour Alcatraz or cross the Golden Gate Bridge while you’re there. Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf may make your list, too. If you time it right, you might even catch a Golden State Warriors game. All things considered, should you get the opportunity to film in San Francisco, you’ll likely leave with a few of your own tales of the city. 

 

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Casting in LA This Week!

Casting in LA This Week!

Every day great roles are added to Casting Billboard®. Below are highlighted projects from this week!

 

It’s Alright Now

Rate:$200 per day for five days | Female & Male, Various Ethnicities | Feature Film

ROLES  Principal & Supporting   GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES  Female & Male / 15-45 / Various Ethnicities

DESCRIPTION  This coming-of-age film follows three best friends in rural America. Unknowingly, as they celebrate their last summer of carefree days, each of them will have to deal with internal family turmoil that will eventually end their childhood innocence and force them to make tough decisions on their own.

 

Stella Artois – “The Price of Time” (NY)

Rate:$500 per person | Female & Male, All Ethnicities | Commercial

ROLES  Principal & Supporting   GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES  Female & Male / 25-44 / All Ethnicities

DESCRIPTION Stella Artois wants to know why it’s so hard for you to find time to catch up with your favorite people.

 

360 Camera

Rate: $400 | Female & Male, All Ethnicities | Commercial

ROLES  Principal  GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES  Female & Male / 18-25 / All Ethnicities

DESCRIPTION  Looking for about nine people (men and women 18-25) to be in our video that is promoting a new 360 degree camera.

 

 

 

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The Top Five Films from the Weekend Box Office and the Casting Directors Behind Them

The Top Five Films from the Weekend Box Office and the Casting Directors Behind Them

As constant students of their craft and of their industry, actors may want to keep up to date with which films are performing well at the box office. But you shouldn’t just stop there. Familiarizing oneself with the casting directors behind said projects would be a wise move for any actor. We’ve compiled the following list of the top five films from this weekend’s box office and the casting teams behind them, according to IMDb. You’ll find previous titles that the casting directors have recently cast, as well as what the casting directors are up to next. Enjoy the free study guide. 

 

1. Bad Boys for Life 

In this third installment of the Bad Boys saga, Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) reunite for another wild ride. Lindsay Graham and Mary Vernieu cast the action-comedy and are both members of Betty Mae Casting. The two share some recent credits under their names that include Troop Zero, Dolemite Is My Name and Sundance darling Charm City Kings. The casting directors have an impressive number of upcoming projects to anticipate. For example, they’re casting the action drama Without Remorse, which will star Michael B. Jordan. And keep an eye out for Shia LaBeouf in the crime drama The Tax Collector, which the dynamic duo also cast. 

 

2. 1917 

The World War I drama centers on two British soldiers tasked with delivering a message which will prevent more than 1,500 of their fellow soldiers from stepping into the enemy’s trap.  

Casting powerhouse Nina Gold is behind the Sam Mendes film that’s racked up 10 Oscar nominations. Gold’s recent credits include names like Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, The Two Popes and Game of Thrones. The busy casting director is attached to many projects that are in the works, such as season four of The Crown. And fans of the Jurassic World series can look forward to her casting work on the upcoming third installment, whose title remains under wraps

 

3. Dolittle

The classic tale of a doctor who realizes that he possesses a unique gift, the ability to converse with animals, is brought to life with Robert Downey Jr. playing the titular character. Lucy Bevan is the casting director behind the family-friendly flick. Recent credits for Bevan include films like Cats, The Good Liar and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. The casting director has a vast array of upcoming titles in the works. For example, she’s on the casting teams for both The Batman and Cruella, which will star Robert Pattinson and Emma Stone in the films’ respective titular roles. 

 

4. Gretel & Hansel 

The horror film centers on the well-known fairy tale about two siblings who enter a forest to try and find food, only to discover a terrifying evil that lurks there. Claire Curry and Julie Harkin are the casting directors behind this reimagining of the classic tale. Curry has recently helped cast The Informer, which releases in the U.S. March 13, and Vita & Virginia. Her upcoming projects include the horror feature Mary and the drama feature Embers, the latter of which she’ll cast with Harkin. Harkin is attached to a number of new titles to anticipate. One example is the action-comedy feature Kung Fury 2, which will star Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael Fassbender. As for recent credits already released, she cast The Aeronauts and Teen Spirit.

 


5. Jumanji: The Next Level 

In the most recent installment of the Jumanji reboot, the gang returns to save one of their own, and they’re joined this time by some unexpected new players. Nicole Abellera and Jeanne McCarthy of McCarthy/Abellera Casting are the casting duo behind this 2019 sequel. They’ve recently cast Downhill, Togo, and Stuber. McCarthy and Abellara have a number of projects on the horizon, such as the star-studded adventure sci-fi Chaos Walking. Another example is the upcoming comedy Dummy, which will star Anna Kendrick. 

 

You can find more information here on films that performed best at the box office this weekend, according to IMDb. Who knows? If you study up and keep working hard, you might just find your own name on the cast list of future top box office films. 

 

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Casting in LA This Week!

Casting in LA This Week!

Every day great roles are added to Casting Billboard®. Below are highlighted projects from this week!

 

VOO Belgium

Rate: $500 per day + 20% agency (if applicable) | Female & Male, Caucasian | Internet

ROLES  Principal   GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES  Female & Male / 20-35 / Caucasian

DESCRIPTION  Currently casting cool, stylish and edgy caucasian men and women ages 20’s -mid 30’s for VOO Belgium. VOO is an internet/ technology company expanding its services to online streaming.

 

Hustler Casino – Los Angeles

Rate: $200 – $500 | Female & Male, All Ethnicities | Commercial

ROLES  Principal & Supporting  GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES  Female & Male / 21-70 / All Ethnicities

DESCRIPTION  A degenerate gambler has the time of his life at Hustler Casino. It’s an underdog story.

 

Yaz

Rate: $500 | Male, Caucasian  | Music Video

ROLES  Lead  GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES  Male / 20-26 / Caucasian

DESCRIPTION  Love interest will be moving around the house, watching tv, sitting in the kitchen, and getting ready for work while the artist is performing to him on TV.

 

 

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Artios Nominees Weigh in on Their Nominated Projects 

Artios Nominees Weigh in on Their Nominated Projects 

With the Artios Awards right around the corner, we want to take a look at two of the casting directors who made the list of nominees this year. Jessica Sherman is nominated within the short film category for Skin, which also took home an Oscar last year for Best Live Action Short Film. She is known for previous projects like The Strain, Bates Motel, and Sleight. Sherman also has a number of upcoming projects in the works, such as the TNT series Tell Me Your Secrets and the thriller feature Anderson Falls. Fellow nominee Kim Marie Swanson received a nod for the show Intervention, which falls within the Artios’ reality series category. Swanson’s previous credits include titles like The Treatment, Showdown at Area 51 and My Haunted House. As for next projects, Swanson has the upcoming drama feature entitled Lincoln, Lost in the Noise Level and is also casting digital content for Disney’s YouTube channels. Both Sherman and Swanson took a break from the busy world of casting to give us a window into their respective categories and nominated projects. 

 

Jessica ShermanSkin

What’s something people might not know about casting a short film?

The challenge with any short film is getting people to read the script because shorts typically don’t have much money. It’s very rare that an agent will submit on a short film, even if you release a breakdown for it. For this project, I mostly built my own lists of who could be right to fill the world. The whole process takes a lot longer because short films are pretty low on the totem pole, meaning nobody’s in a rush to submit to them. But once someone would actually read the Skin script, they would be really excited to participate. The audition process was very unique for this short film, in particular, because we were working with material from the feature version of it that had already been written. So we were taking sides from the feature and trying to mold them into what could fit for the short. I think the filmmakers were keeping an eye out for anyone who could be a good fit for the feature, if and when they got there. They did end up making the feature version and carried over to it a few of the cast members from the short, such as Danielle Macdonald. 

 

What was one challenge of casting Skin, in particular?  

Casting the two main child actors was the biggest challenge because we needed kids who were young enough to still have that quality of true innocence. And at the same time, they needed to have the ability to handle serious subject material, such as the effect of perpetual hate. The short includes some disturbing scenes, like when the character Bronny has to watch his dad get beat up for no reason. So when it comes to the audition process, it’s important to create a safe space for the child actors. For this project, it was about trying to create scenarios in the room that were appropriate and that they could process. Before we even scheduled the audition, I checked with the agents to make sure the parents were comfortable with the content and could have a conversation with their child about it beforehand. 

 

How did you find Jackson Robert Scott for the role of Troy?

We auditioned so many boys, and we were down to two when I saw the trailer for It. I remember I was lying in bed watching TV and saw that first teaser that came out. You didn’t see Jackson do much of anything in it, but he just had this wholesome, innocent face. I texted the teaser to Guy Nattiv [the writer and director of Skin] and reached out to Jackson’s agent to ask about his availability. It took some working out because he’s based in Arizona, but he just clicked so well with everyone. Jonathan Tucker was already attached to play Troy’s father Johnny in the short, and he came in to read with our final three choices, which included Jackson. They really clicked, and Jonathan put a lot of time and energy into developing their characters’ relationship. Jackson had done a school project on snakes, and some of the information he learned from it actually made it into a scene in the film. After so much searching, it was a great feeling to find the right fit for that role, as well as the right fit for his character’s family in Skin.

 

Kim Marie SwansonIntervention

What’s something people might not know about casting reality series, in general?

It’s hard. I think a lot of people assume it’s just trying to find big personalities that want to look like idiots on TV or something. But it’s not that at all —  it’s like any other casting. You’re putting together a cast that has somebody who’ll appeal to every aspect of your audience. I always say that casting directors have the best job in the world because we get to be a catalyst in helping someone’s dreams come true. I love having that opportunity in scripted casting, but reality casting takes it to a whole different level. On Intervention, for example, it’s often someone’s dream to help save their friend or family member’s life. So there’s a different kind of reward with it. None of the people we bring onto a reality series are going to win an Oscar or an Emmy, but we can truly impact lives in a way that we don’t get to do with scripted projects. And I want to recognize the other casting people that helped make this season happen. Hayley Blain Weinstein was the casting associate and is also nominated. We worked with some amazing casting producers named Connie Monroe, Annette Grundy, Natalie Boyadjian Boles, Jill Johnson-Hess and Yasmin Ward.

 

What was one challenge you faced with casting Intervention?

I think the biggest challenge had to do with the fact that the show has been on the air for so long and the producers wanted to target specific types of stories that hadn’t been done before. In the past, they’d found subjects for the show by referrals from loved ones. But since we needed specific types of stories in the Philadelphia area for this season, we couldn’t just rely on random submissions. We had to figure out a new way to find people, so we decided to just re-engineer it. I had an attorney friend help me navigate the online court documents to find people with several drug charges or arrests on their records, which indicated that they could be addicts. Then, we’d reach out directly to ask about their family and that sort of thing. From there, we could contact the family members to see if they’d be interested in being a part of a series that helps shed light on the disease of addiction. 

 

How do you keep things professional when casting for a project with such heavy subject material? 

When I was working on the show, I got a telephone call from a man who immediately started yelling and screaming and cussing me out. He was angry because he had submitted his son for the show the previous year, but his story didn’t get picked up. I wasn’t there at that point, so I don’t know why that was the case. There could be several reasons, but one frequent concern is if an addict develops an inclination that we’re considering them for the show. If that happens, we immediately stop any sort of activity. It’s for their safety because they’re more likely to overdose if they believe there’s a chance of intervention. The safety of the people we feature in the show is our number one priority. But the father who called me was in pain and couldn’t see that. He told me that his son had passed away, and it was our fault because we didn’t move forward with his story. I’m a parent myself, and I understood in that moment that he was heartbroken and needed to be angry in order to grieve. If allowing myself to be yelled at could help him move forward, then I could give him that. So even in a professional setting, sometimes you’re put in a position to help someone on a very human level.

 

Sherman and Swanson are amongst a number of nominated casting directors for this year’s Artios Awards. You can check out the full list of TV, theater and short form nominees, as well as those nominated within the film categories, before the awards show on January 30. 

These interviews have been edited and condensed.

 

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Casting in LA This Week!

Casting in LA This Week!

Every day great roles are added to Casting Billboard®. Below are highlighted projects from this week!

 

Grand Canyon University – “Portraits”

Rate:$1,000 (+$500 travel stipend) | Female & Male, All Ethnicities | Commercial

ROLES  Principal   GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES  Female & Male / 20-49 / All Ethnicities

DESCRIPTION  Casting multiple roles for a promotional web-video for Grand Canyon University (one of the largest Christian educational institutions in the world), and we’ll be shooting this in the Phoenix area in late January.

 

Certified Fitness Trainer – Fitness Videos

Rate:$500 for 8 hour day | Female & Male, All Ethnicities  | Promo

ROLES  Principal  GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES  Female & Male / 25-35 / All Ethnicities

DESCRIPTION  This position is for a certified fitness trainer who will work with us on developing/performing 10-30 minute workout videos.

 

Kids Pop Music Video

Rate: $500 for 12 hour day | Female, All Ethnicities | Music Video

ROLES  Principal  GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES  Female / 30-40 / All Ethnicities

DESCRIPTION   We are shooting a fun teen style music video that takes place in a Library. Kids are studying but when the Librarian takes a break, the library turns into a dance party. A fun, innocent, music video for the tween market.

 

Duluth Trading Company

Rate: $300-$500 | Male, All Ethnicities | Commercial

ROLES  Principal & Featured  GENDER/AGE/ETHNICITIES  Male / 25-45 / All Ethnicities

DESCRIPTION   A group of underwear scientists slo-mo walk to their lab. Additional scenes will be filmed with the scientists performing experiments on test subjects wearing underwear.

 

 

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ACTING UP – Episode #15: Mark Duplass of ‘The Morning Show’

ACTING UP – Episode #15: Mark Duplass of ‘The Morning Show’

Welcome to the fifteenth installment of ACTING UP, a Casting Networks column designed to call attention to standout performances in TV, streaming and film. Other than spotlighting exceptional work from recent projects, this feature shines a light on how certain actors got to where they are now. Have a peek and then check out these noteworthy performances to help hone your craft.

For the class of ’15: Mark Duplass portrays Chip Black, the perpetually stressed-out producer of The Morning Show, Apple’s flagship show for their new(ish) streaming service Apple TV+.

 

Mark Duplass

THE PERFORMER:
Mark Duplass

THE SERIES:
The Morning Show

THE PERFORMANCE:
In the first scene of The Morning Show, Chip Black (Duplass) gets awoken from his meditative slumber by the head of his NBC-like network to news he must fire the male co-anchor of his top-rated morning show, Mitch Kessler (Steve Carrell), over sexual misconduct allegations.

From this moment on, it becomes clear that Black will be dealing with the fallout from this (and many other unforeseen developments) in a show that’s clearly ripped from the headlines of American culture today.

Thrust into a world of the unknown, Black’s fate gets darker with each day during the season’s 10-episode run as revelations of sexual harassment and the culture of silence come to light. Throughout it all, Black tries to keep his team focused — especially when it comes to lead anchor Alex Levy (adeptly played by Jennifer Aniston in a brave departure). As he presides over a staff of many, Black, as adroitly played by Duplass, is a devoted leader struggling to right the ship amid storms of chaos and confusion, all the while evaluating his own future, his opportunistic ways, and his desire to do right.

As Black’s stress level elevates (as represented by his increasingly baggy eyes and five o’clock shadow), Duplass’ layered performance really begins to shine as he tries to keep it all together: his team, his career, his sanity. His acting talents are particularly on display when it comes to doing the political tap dance that is keeping the peace between Aniston’s Levy and Kessler’s replacement, the newly plucked-out-of-obscurity anchor Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon), as she begins her unlikely stint as co-host.

But it’s when Black’s survival instinct kicks in midway through the first season — when he starts to do what he sees as necessary to save his job. That’s when his desperation gets more palpable, his chutzpah more prominent, and his character more of a centerpiece in the best kind of way as he struggles to maintain loyalties — and then ultimately, to save his job.

And he does all this while coming off as the likable kind of boss you’d want to work for because he’ll go to bat for you against sinister outside forces.

In a scene that might just get him a nomination of some kind come fall 2020, Black sits on the other end of the phone with a cagey Levy, a collapsed mess when he realizes that the co-host that he has advocated for, protected, and stood by over the years is campaigning to have him replaced. It’s a scene that is both heartbreaking and masterfully played as Black reads between the lines in their tense and rather telling conversation. 

By the end of the season, Black’s been reduced a guy beaten down by several forces — including an emotionally charged scuffle in a high-rise lobby — making you feel empathy in the way only the best actors do.

 

THE CAREER:
If it seems like Mark Duplass, the actor, is having a moment of sorts… he is. Other than his starring role in The Morning Show, the New Orleans-born father of two also just made the most of his supporting role as Megyn Kelly’s husband (Douglas Brunt) in Jay Roach’s Bombshell, another project dealing with sexual harassment at a major news organization (Fox News). Most notably, his character was the sole voice of dissent in the room after what he perceived to be a softball interview with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump after the candidate went after his wife for her questions in the Republican primary debate back in 2016. All based on a true story.

What you probably don’t know is that the multi-talented Duplass is a doer in the most Hollywood sort of way, having written, directed and produced several films with his brother, filmmaker Jay Duplass, including Baghead (2008) and The Do-Deca-Pentathalon (2012) amongst others. When the Duplass boys aren’t doing it all by Hollywood standards, Mark Duplass just does acting — and well – having starred in shows like FX’s The League (2009-2015) and in festival darlings such as Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) and the refreshingly dark The One I Love (2014) with Elizabeth Moss. The Twilight Zone-y premise of the latter is a familiar precursor to another dark comedy involving doppelgangers, Living With Yourself (on Netflix).

Not incredibly impressed yet? The 43-year-old Duplass has also co-created shows such as Room 104 and the smart yet short-lived Togetherness, both on HBO. Note: Duplass also executive-produced one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen, Wild Wild Country (on Netflix), about the Rajneeshpuram cult that overtook an Oregon community back in the early 1980s.

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Gregg Rosenzweig has been a writer, creative director and managing editor for various entertainment clients, ad agencies and digital media companies over the past 20 years. He is also a partner in the talent management/production company, The Rosenzweig Group.

 

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