Today’s blog is about job interviews, something a lot of us will (hopefully) be doing a lot of as the economy gets back on it’s feet. It specifically pertains to actors and auditions. Interviews are something most of us see as a necessary but very stressful part of getting a job. They definitely have that sweaty palmed, I need a drink! factor to them. But they don’t have to!
Meet Neely Gurman.
She casts TV, movies, music videos and more. She has a friendly face and seems very welcoming and nice, right? But we actors (including me!) can get pants wettingly terrified going in to meet with casting directors for auditions.
Auditions are really just job interviews. Have you ever had a job interview for anything that didn’t leave you a little damp under the arms? We want a job, sometimes so badly we can taste it, but between us and that job are other candidates and someone in charge of deciding if we are the right fit for it, better than any of the other people available.
We spend eons learning to do the jobs we apply for, whether its actor, rocket scientist or Johnny Knoxville sidekick but we rarely get taught how to interview for jobs. That’s one of the reasons we need more deodorant on the days we interview.
The funny thing is we forget that those people in the position to hire us know what we’re going through. They had to interview for their jobs too. They want us to do well, it makes their lives easier.
So I thought I’d ask Neely for some tips on auditioning. If you want to know more than what you read here and also get a little practice at it – she’s teaching a seminar on these very things (see bottom for details).
Neely didn’t set out to be a casting director. No casting director I’ve ever talked to started out dreaming of that career. They fall into it. Some were actors, some, like Neely, wanted to be doing something in the entertainment industry and some started in other areas and found their calling in casting.
She absolutely loves casting, when she has work – “I love the rush, the high intensity of trying to get things done on deadlines. It’s a high stress job but its fun and I love auditioning actors and meeting new people.”
So when you audition with Neely for a role you are meeting with someone who is excited to get to know you and see what you can do. She says, “I try to make actors feel as comfortable as I can and I’ve actually gotten feedback from actors that they felt comfortable in my room. I try to talk to them for a second before and break the ice.”
They don’t all do that. The important thing to remember is that just because someone doesn’t take the time to make you feel comfortable doesn’t mean they don’t like you. Sometimes they seem cold but they may have a million things going on at the same time, they can be overwhelmed and just don’t have time to hold your hand and tell you that you’ve made their day with your presence. (no doubt they’re thinking it, though. I mean, how could they not be? Its you!)
Usually we take it all personally. The interview is for them to see us so anything that’s off has to be our fault, right? Right!?! No. Its good to remember that its not all about us. And sometimes we’re awesome and we won’t get the job because we just aren’t the right fit. But if we performed well and were professional then that casting director will have us back for something we’re better suited for. So its a victory wrapped in a loss inside another shift at that restaurant, right? Well, it is a process. If you want to skip it then you have to make your own movies/shorts/sketches/plays, etc. Lots of us do. You can always be working if you’re always creating work for yourself. That’s also a great way to learn.
Here are a few words of advice from Neely on what to do and what not to do when you audition for a role. If you are looking for any kind of job you can use this as good advice on interviews of any kind:
1. Don’t soothe your nerves with the sauce. “One time I was casting a movie and an actor came in with a 6 pack of Zima or Smirnoff or something like that. He brought alcohol to my audition. He was drinking with his girlfriend outside. That didn’t make me too happy.” Really, only bank officials should ever consider it okay to drink before or during a job interview because they clearly don’t require qualifications for what they do. Save that BS for AIG, people.
2. Headshots should look like you. You wouldn’t use a picture that didn’t look like you on your dating profile, would you? “Keep headshots as updated as possible. If you use a headshot that’s out of date and you come in to an audition and you don’t look like that then you’ve wasted everyone’s time.”
3. Speaking of lying on your resume: “Don’t lie about who you are on your resume. Don’t put languages you can’t speak, etc. because if we call you in because you can do something you’ve put on your resume and you can’t do it then you’ve wasted our time again.”
4. When you submit yourself for work read all of the details of the job: “Only submit yourself for work you are available for. I think actors get excited when they see projects online and they submit but nothing is more frustrating than calling them for the role and they aren’t available.” This is like Bernie Madoff throwing his resume in for a job anytime in the next 15-20 years.
5. And be punctual: “If you’re going to be late just have your agent call. We don’t want to wait for you. You should wait for us.”
So those are the don’ts. Here are some do’s that are professional, pro-active and will help you get work:
1. Come in to auditions professional, prepared and with your headshot and resume stapled together. You should have at least 10 headshots in your trunk. I don’t care how famous you are, if you’re coming in to see a producer or director don’t think we’re going to have your picture.”
2. Send postcards every other month or so to keep casting directors up to date on what you’re doing. Don’t send them every week, its just too much. And when you get a new headshot send that on over too.
Casting is a nomadic profession and casting directors are always moving offices. The best way to keep up with them is through subscription sites like castingabout.com. For $9.95 a month you can get up to the minute addresses for casting directors. And for those that are members of the Casting Society of America you can always send stuff to them at:
606 N. Larchmont Blvd .
Suite 4-B .
Los Angeles, CA 90004-1309 .
Tel: 323 463 1925 . Fax: 323 463 5753
Want more? It is ‘who you know’ in every business a lot of times and sometimes the best way to get to know casting directors is to learn from them and show them what you can do. If you’d like to take Neely’s class check out the info here:
Neely’s 3 hour master workshop will include:
1. Cold Reading Mock Producer Sessions
2. Improv Games
3. Q&A’s – Do’s and Don’ts and how to get your own work
4. One-on-Ones – Pic & Resume critique
With over 9 years of hands-on casting experience, Neely Gurman has behind the scenes knowledge of what it takes to book. She started out in casting TV sitcoms and has made her way up to an independent movie casting director. Neely has worked on shows such as City Guys, One on One, According to Jim, Jake in Progress, Four Kings and other pilots. She has also worked on such movies as The Whole Ten Yards, Grind, Eulogy, Thunder Geniuses, Fall of the Night, Alter Ego, Dreams and Shadows, and just finished working on Convincing Clooney. Some casting directors she has worked with are Jeff Greenberg, Patricia Noland, Nancy Nayor, Deborah Barylski, and Holly Powell. Tap into her knowledge and come out ahead of the rest of those in your industry.
So, if you’re looking to make that transition from aspiring actor to working actor, contact Neely Gurman today! Space limited! Call now to book your spot for March 19th. 818-326-1672 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Neely honestly cares and takes the time to get to know you like no other casting director I’ve met.” After just three weeks of taking Neely’s workshop, I landed a supporting role in a SAG independent feature.” Erin Stegeman
“After following Neely’s brilliant advice, less than 4 weeks after taking the workshop, I was able to land my first agent in Los Angeles!” Elizabeth Johannesdottir
“Neely’s workshop is wonderful! She brings a lot of energy and information. She also includes everyone in the class in a way that, as actors, we can get a much better idea of how the casting process works.” Brian Linsley