Friday, November 13, 2009

Casting trick #8. Treat your actors like professionals.

I read somewhere that the average cost to make a television commercial is well over $400,000.

I don't know about you, but I think that's a lot of money. Although it goes pretty quickly when you have to scout locations, build sets, get permits, hire crews, rent equipment, and all the other stuff that goes into a shoot.

But when you think about it, most commercials come down to actors interacting. All the other stuff is there to support the interaction. And putting it that way, you'd think the actors would be the most important factor.

Only they're not treated that way.

It's not unusual for actors to get a phone call or email at midnight telling them they have an audition the next morning. They're given a scheduled time for their audition that's totally arbitrary, without any regard for the fact that they might have jobs or children, and even when they show up on time, they're often forced to wait for an hour or more for a chance to read for a part.

That waiting time is usually a good thing because many casting directors don't feel the need to provide any information the actors can use to prepare for the audition.

What's remarkable is that the same people who give the actors no notice, no information, and no time to prepare are often the ones who deride the actors as flaky when they don't show up and talentless when they don't have the script memorized. And not just behind their backs, either.

It never occurs to them that acting, by its very nature, requires an incredible ability to compartmentalize: Actors need to be able to respond with full emotion while performing, yet deal with the daily rejection that comes with the pursuit of work.

You want to be a better director? Of course you do. Well, take some acting classes. Go on some auditions. If you're lucky enough to land a gig, pay attention to the way you're treated. Walk a mile in your actors' shoes.

Trust me, you'll never take your actors for granted again. And your work will be much, much better.