The pace of commercials can be ridiculous. From the beginning of the production company’s contact with the casting director through the end of the shoot and edit, most of the time it’s a complete whirlwind. You may feel this when you receive a same day audition, realize there is a ten person backup with a 40 minute wait, or when the session director is speeding through the group explanation. Most of the time, everything coming from the commercial casting office moves really, really fast. That’s our job… but it isn’t yours.

Commercial actors should never rush through their audition.

I can’t say that every commercial actor should slow down when giving their commercial audition, but a strong majority can. It’s common. Actors tend to speed through their commercial audition. I am not sure if this phenomena happens in more leisurely paced theatrical auditions or if it has something to do with the surrounding sometimes frenetic pace that specifically accompanies commercials.

When casting is in a hurry, you don’t have to be. Here’s when NOT to rush:

Your slate. Look into the camera and smile. Say your full name clearly and slowly. This may seem silly, but it’s the first impression and you want it to be a good one. It’s also wildly important that we have your correct name. I assure you, actors have booked jobs/NOT booked jobs based on the fact that a name was misheard in the slate.

You have a question. When something is unclear, ask. Certainly make sure you “get” the commercial, if it doesn’t make sense. Ask the pronunciation of the product if you couldn’t find it in your research. Those are good things to ask the lobby assistant. The session director would be able to answer where your eyeline should be, if the powers-that-be are married to the script (or if you can improv a bit) or the framing of the shot. The key here is to limit your questions. Make sure you aren’t asking anything that is posted, or that has already been answered. That is frustrating for obvious reasons. Don’t ask questions that are answered with a little research. And don’t ask questions for the sake of asking questions… that’s a bad idea.

You need to start over. When you have a little hiccup, keep going. We really don’t mind. But when you are entirely off track, you don’t have to keep battling through it. Just stop and say that you are going to start over, take a couple of seconds to gather yourself and start back in.

After your callback. You might think this is funny… but walk slowly out of the casting studio, specifically after a callback. Exit the room at a normal pace but don’t then run out of the studio. More times than I can count, I close the door behind the actor and the director says, “maybe we should see them for the other role” or “I wonder if they could do it thus-and-such way”. When I open the door to grab that actor 30 seconds later, the actor has vanished and it becomes a whole big thing to get them back to the room. Just re-read the board or sit and check your hair/belongings. Then leisurely walk out.

Here’s when to hurry:

Walking into the room. When you are “on deck” be ready to go into the room. Have your stuff gathered and ready to head in the minute the door opens and the actor(s) before you come out. Don’t finish your conversation with your pal in the lobby. Don’t check your lipstick or hair after your name has been called. Be ready to go certainly when you feel a snappy pace in the air or you know the session is behind. Don’t be the reason the session runs even further behind because you are lollygaging.

Prepping for your read in the room. If you need to look over the cue card, no problem. If you need to shake off your last, unsuccessful take, do it! But you don’t get a whole actors warm up or meditation moment of deep breathing. You need to reset quickly and efficiently.

Confirming your audition. Hurry up on that one. Make it a goal to confirm your audition online within an hour.

Everything about the commercial process is fast. Resist the temptation to get caught up in the zany pace and plow through your audition. Instead, take a deep breath and try to enjoy yourself. Scratch the “try”, ENJOY. If you are having fun, we are having fun.

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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, voiceover, industrials, and dabbles in casting features and short films. Recent commercial jobs include: Head & Shoulders, Mercedes, and KMART. She also cast the new Movie Surfers for seasons 16/17, as well as online content for The Muppets.