Archives for : act now

5 THINGS EVERY ACTOR SHOULD KNOW ABOUT 2016’s PILOT SEASON

FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLETT! Pilot Season started earlier than ever this year and is moving like lightening. Don’t get lefPilot-Season-Logot behind, find out what you need to know here. 

1. WHAT IS A PILOT? The Pilot itself is a stand-alone episode of a series that is used to sell the series and will usually run as the first episode of the series, if picked up.

Over the summer the major networks all received short pitches for new shows from writers and producers. Then in the fall, each network requested scripts from about seventy of those pitches.

By January, the network has chosen twenty of those scripts from which to make pilots. Pilot season is the annual high-pressure race to the finish line. The race generally happens between January andApril, culminating at The Upfronts in May.

With more and more cable networks producing original content the start and end times of pilot season as blurred. This year pilots began casting as early as NOVEMBER! Whaaat? Yes. True.

During the coming months studios battle it out to cast, produce, and test the best new series.

Once they have been produced, those pilots are presented to studio and network executives (and sometimes to test audiences). Each network then chooses between 4 and 8 pilots to present at The Upfronts where they are added to network schedules for the following season.

2. HOW ARE PILOTS CAST? Most pilots have about 6 weeks to cast anywhere from 5-25 roles. In the TV world where you have 2 days to cast 12 roles, 6 weeks is A LOT of time, meaning A LOT of actors can get seen. However, because producers want to sell their idea, they usually jam pack that pilot with well known actors if they can.

First, lists are made up of first choice actors – the A-List – then second choice – the B list- (hence the term A-List, B-List etc.) Later in the season casting will pull from agent submissions. Often actors on the aforementioned lists will opt out of auditions for already-established TV programs during this time. The reasoning behind this strategy is that most actors (and their agents) would rather bet on booking a pilot that gets picked up, where they sign a multiple year contract, than take a week’s worth of work on a current show. Lessmoney upfront, but it could pay off with more money and work in the future if the pilot goes to series.

3. HOW CAN AN ACTOR PREPARE? If you have representation, follow up with them now and figure out a game plan.

This should include your own marketing plan of drop-offs, postcards and networking. Consider doing Casting Director Workshops with new casting offices, but also re-meets of people who like you (they have called you in before or booked you).

Additionally, don’t focus solely on pilots. Even with great training, reps, some credits and business relationships, you might not get any pilot auditions.  Keep in mind, pilot season is also the second half of 2014/2015 episodic season. REMEMBER all those actors who are opting out? They leave a chasm for YOU to fill. Also, shows that have a full season pick-up order are still very, very active in casting!!

+ Make sure that you are audition-ready no matter what stage you are at! Luck + preparation = opportunity!

+ If you do not have representation, you REALLY need to make sure you have a marketing plan in place for drop-offs, postcards, other updates (Mail Chimp anyone?) and networking. Actors without reps should not rely on pilot auditions. Most of the time casting goes to their industry list and then agent submissions.

+ If you are non-union, your first priority should be getting at least SAG/AFTRA-Eligible. No matter the season, your focus should be on commercials, films and a very, few, specific tv casting directors who are open to seeing non-union actors. Here is my post on EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO GET SAG-AFTRA. No excuses!

4. HOW ARE THINGS CHANGING?

Now that Amazon and Netflix are in the game, the landscape is more and more crowded. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m always telling actors to create their own work, weather it’s a webseries or a short film or stand up comedy.

This year’s trends include a lot of pilots based on webseries or even podcasts. Yes. Podcasts. Also there are a lot of the tried and true procedurals, medical dramas and crime dramas. See more here from the Hollywood Reporter on development trends. 

Fellow consultant, Mackenzie Marsh auditioned for lead roles in 9 pilots and tested on 3 last year, this year she has ALREADY tested for one and it’s only January.

Likewise Act Now consultant LJ Salerno had this to say:

“This was the first year I went in for series regulars on pilots since the first year I moved out here 12 years ago. I went in for two comedies. Both were in November and December.   And for a series regular on “Good Girls Revolt” in April-ish?..right after my guest star on the Middle aired. That was a Netflix series. “

5. WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE?

TVLine writes super informational articles about each season, but it’s released late Janurary.

 Variety has a list of up-to-the-minute series and pilot orders.

 Deadline Hollywood is another great resource.

There is also The Hollywood Reporter. As things get moving and shaking, www.thefutoncritic.com and www.castingabout.com. are great ways to keep up with developments in addition to who the casting office is attached to each project.

Any pilot season stories to tell? Comment below and help your fellow actors!

 

Post to Twitter

WHY THE BEST ACTORS ARE NOT ACTING!

I remember when a Casting Director said to me, “The best actors are not acting, they are being.”

She also pointed out a shift in self-consciousness around age 8-10 for girls 10-11 for boys. Her point was that the more self-conscious we become as we get older, the less natural we become. We start to think: what do they want, am I doing it right, do they like me, am I pretty enough– and so “acting” starts to take over.

Auditioning children can be different in a number of ways as well. Many Casting directors like to slate differently. They are really casting the child’s personality, rather than asking the child to act. They want to find the child whose natural instincts and natural personality fit the character. Sometimes kids can be shy, or they’ve been coached to be respectful in the room, so the casting director wants to get them to open up and be themselves.

And isn’t that interesting? Because we all know that, in the beginning of our careers, we are ALL cast as someone very close to who we are because we just don’t get enough screen time in smaller parts to earn the audience’s faith.

Many times for these very young actors the child will be given the line and then asked to repeat it back to the director. Then, the takes can be cut together.

So for example, the Casting Director told me, during a child search for a major feature film, they asked the kids to sing a song, asked them about their brothers and sisters, and a few more questions that were specific to the subject of the film. The CD and the Director want to see– does this child have a creative mind? Are they hard to get stuff out of? How easy is it to get them to go with the flow? That’s what is being assessed.

And again, not so different from adults. Except when it comes to expectations. Generally most CDs will give kids a bit more time to warm up.

As the actors get older the dialogue has to be there. At ages 8-10 the CD will still want them to talk off the cuff a bit, just to get a sense of them, before launching into the actual material. But even at this age casting may spend a bit more time with a child if they feel there is something there, a look that is right, for example.

It also depends on the director. Some are better with kids than others. Directors like, for example, Chris Columbus have been working with kids their whole lives and they’re just so good with kids.

Most of the time, she said, the more you treat the kids like adults in the room, the more response you get out of them.

I wanted to follow up on my recent post regarding how to get your SAG-AFTRA union card as it pertains to both child actors and to the 18 to play younger crowd.

I discovered that a minor, anyone under the age of eighteen, can be taft-hartleyed into the union with no explanation. But anytime you have an adult actor (even someone who is over eighteen but playing a character under eighteen) who is getting a union gig and they’re non union, you have to do a Taft-Hartley. One of the things the person filling out the Taft-Hartley form will add to their explanation is that, for example, they needed an adult actor who could work more hours that a child is permitted to, but who also looked younger. However there are still plenty of people in the union who could match that description, so they must still be able to qualify for one of the other categories.

The production must fill out a form explaining why they are using a non union actor. Here are the categories the production has to choose from:

Reason for Hire (Check Appropriate Box)

Member of recognized “name” specialty group (Attach documentation and photo)

Important, famous, well-known or unique persons portraying themselves (Attach photo and bio)

Background actor adjusted for non-script lines (Attach photo)

Military or other government personnel used due to governmental restrictions (Describe restrictions below)

Special skill or unique physical appearance. (Describe skill below or attach photo)

First employment of a person who has training/experience as a professional performer and intends to pursue a career as a motion picture performer (Attach photo and resume)

Child under the age of 18 (State age and attach photo)
Owner or operator of special or unique vehicle or equipment (Describe below and attach photo) Employed as stunt coordinator (Attach photo and resume)

Employed as body double for scenes requiring nudity or sexual conduct (Attach photo)
Other (Describe reason for hire below and attach photo and resume)

 

Ultimately we grow up fast in this business. And yet, what makes the best actors sparkle is sometimes their ability to retain that childlike freedom from self — the ability to just be in the moment and let go of what others think.

Something to strive for no matter how old you are!

 

 

 

 

 

Post to Twitter

THE ONE SECRET TO BOOKING YOUR SERIES REGULAR

How can there be just one thing that’s going to (finally) get you that series regular role, or that breakout film part you’ve been working towards? Honestly, you’ve also got to be well-trained, persistent, castable, professional, camera-savvy, and hard-working. But if you aren’t confident, none of this will add up in the end.

I promise if you do the work to be the most CONFIDENT actor you can be, you’ll see a difference in your career!

And if you don’t? You could end up bragging to your friends about all the auditions you went on, how you once served pasta to some A-lister, and that time you rode the elevator with Stephen Spielberg whom you did not speak to because you were stupefied.

Imagine Matthew McConaughey or Jennifer Lawrence without Confidence. See what I mean?

But if you can develop this attitude you will have that “star quality” you need to move ahead.

I’m going to give you two exercises that will help you be more confident immediately and which you can use before any audition.

1. The Meditation: Sit or lie in a comfortable space. Beginning with your childhood, imagine times in your life when you felt confident— maybe you were the star of the school play, maybe you got a standing ovation at a talent show, or won a blue ribbon. Now go through your life, moment by moment, remembering all those times you felt certain of your ability to achieve your dreams. Pick out one moment, just let it come to you, and flesh out that scene. Bring in all your sense: smell, touch, taste, sound, sight. Really re-create that moment in your memory, like a snapshot. Feel the feelings you felt in that moment. Really notice how feeling the memory affects your body. Rest in the moment, with your snapshot, feeling the feelings for a few more seconds.

2. The Attitude Line: Come up stand and walk around your room. Continue to radiate the feeling you found in your snapshot memory. Notice how you walk when you feel confident. Now exaggerate that walk. Saunter! Swagger! Prance! Expand, intensify, and enlarge the walk. Really go for it. Now, begin to say the attitude line: “I’m confident” as you walk. Really believe the words. Say it louder and louder. On the final repetition yell the line as loud as you can and at the height of it, FREEZE! See how your body has manifested the feeling – notice your posture, your facial expression, are you relaxed? tense? smiling? frowning? How are you holding your hands?

3. The Visualization: Close your eyes and relax. Watch your breath coming in and out for 10 breaths. Focus on that. Now see a bold bright golden light shining from inside your core. Let it burst out of you, now see that light pouring like liquid gold from you and into the parking lot of the place you are going, through the door, up the stairs or elevator, into the waiting room, into the audition room, flowing over the casting director, writer, producer, director, everyone in the room, showering them with your special light. Feel your positive energy and confidence flowing out of you. 

You wouldn’t go in for an audition unprepared would you? NO! And your preparation should include a confidence booster like one of these. If you try out my suggestions (or develop one of your own) please return here and comment and let us know how it changed your audition experience! I can’t wait to hear what happens!

 

 

* Credit to Stephen Book, creator of The Attitude Line exercise, modified here by me

* Credit to Dawn Cartwright, creator of The Meditation exercise, modified here by me

Post to Twitter

What Can Actors Learn From Casting?

When an actor becomes a casting director, he turns the tables on himself and comes out a winner!

Actor Felipe Figueroa
Actor Felipe Figueroa   

What follows here is an interview between myself and Felipe Figueroa. Felipe is a client at Act Now, where I am a consultant for actors. He has been a reader at Bialy Thomas Casting since he moved to LA three years ago, and now has begun casting himself. He’s currently working on casting a webseries, indie films, and student films. When he told me that moving into casting has changed how he auditions, I sent him a few follow-up questions. Here is what he had to say: 


How has working in casting changed your approach to auditions? When I run a session, I'm looking for two things - a human connection that feels totally genuine, no matter the circumstance and someone who has a very specific opinion or approach to the character (which isn't exactly easy to do)
 What exactly do you differently now? I look for traps first. What is the thing that every actor is going to do with this character? Once I discover what that is, I make a different choice. Next, I personally am acting in some way everyday therefore, no audition is "precious" to me. This alleviates the "pressure" of having to book a job or "needing" desperately to impress the folks on the other side of the table. To me it's just another opportunity to create a real human moment - no matter the genre.
 Would you reccommend interning or working as a reader at a casting office to other actors? Absolutely! Not only do you see how the pros so easily approach material, but you also learn about the business. Most important of which have been the following:
1) If someone without a name in hollywood goes in to read for a series regular on a tv show, there is usually an offer out to a celeb or someone with more experience. therefore, this is an opportunity to impress casting so that they bring you in for another role
2) None of the behind the scenes business "stuff" has anything to do with me. Getting "rejected" isn't necessarily about me as a human being - I'm not good enough, I'm not hot enough, etc. It has nothing to do with me. It's about the actor as a commodity being the right thing for a project. Yet another reason why I don't make my auditions precious.
3) Representation is almost everything when it comes to reading for series regs. I'm not with a big agency but they are enough to help me get in the door to get co-stars and guest stars - I must continue doing my own work (connecting with people, etc) to secure CAA, WME in the future. The reason being is that casting holds the implication that if someone is signed with an agency like that, they are automatically ready to be a series reg. Those agencies have a built-in reputation of actors with talent and star potential. So when casting brings in an actor with a small agency for a series reg (which can happen) there is the fear that that actor will NOT be ready and they will look bad to their producers.
4) even being able to see exactly how a network test works changes your approach to how you work. I personally feel that I can walk into a network test today and know exactly what's going to happen, what I would need to sign, and who will most likely be in the room. Knowing these things takes away the mystery and potential for extreme nervousness. Working in casting has been so important for me and I wouldn't take it back for anything!
How did you become a reader at Bialy Thomas? Got it through a friend of mine who was already doing it.
Can you share one story that you think illustrates how casting has helped you to become a better/more aware actor? In casting my own projects, I see and understand so much of what an actor does. Here's a story about bravery. I was auditioning actresses for a small role in a film. I was also serving as the reader. The role was that of a sister to the lead. This sister was a "holier-and-richer-than-thou" kind of girl. The lead character was in the middle of a marriage full of domestic violence. In the main scene between them, the sister said, "I told you not to marry that guy. He can't provide AND he is hurting you." She was then supposed to put on her sunglasses in a callous manner, say her last line, "Call me if you need anything," and leave. This actress did all the above, but before she left she stood there looking at me for about five seconds with all the love someone can have for a sister and HUGGED me. Now we always say NEVER touch casting, but I learned from her that if you're really good and can create real human moments, you can do ANYTHING you want in the room (within reason). Her risk not only left me gaping, but I got super emotionally involved in that hug. She then let go and walked away. I turned off the camera and said to her, "you are so brave and I applaud you for that." She thanked me and left. What an amazing experience.
This isn't to say that anyone can do this. ONLY actors who get it can do it. I really don't think very many actors get it. Most actors I see are safe which to me equals boring which in turn is equal to being bad. I think so many actors have heard so many "rules" that they are afraid to take chances and end up looking boring. I'll never let that happen again for me!
Thank you so much Felipe! Best of luck to you in casting and in acting and in life!

Post to Twitter

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.