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Auditions Can Be A Numbers Game

0707_marci-liroff-audition-advice-nick-bertozzi-ForWeb.jpg.644x650_q100Illustration by: Nick Bertozzi

By Marci Liroff
“So what are my chances for getting this? Aren’t they going to make offers to name actors?”

When I’m casting and coaching, these questions have come up too many times to not address the subject.

Stop doing this to yourself. You can’t figure this out and shouldn’t be spending any time trying. You’ve been chosen from thousands of submissions to audition, so you’re already a winner.

“Wait just a minute, Marci. How did I win when I didn’t get the role?” Let me break it down by the numbers to help explain. When I am casting a project, I come up with my lists. These lists are part wish lists, part reality lists, and part thinking outside the box and being creative. I have staffed my office with highly qualified individuals who have also cast films on their own. We put our heads together to come up with ideas based on our many years of combined experience.

Then I reach out to my agent and manager colleagues for their suggestions.

We now have a huge list of ideas for a role. In this digital age, agents and managers often submit as many as 3,000 actors for a single role on the first day.

Then we have the delicate task of going through each and every submission to decide who fits the role. Between our casting office’s initial lists and the submissions, you can imagine it’s a lot.

On a film, depending on the size of the role and scope of the project, we may bring in a couple hundred actors for the lead role, along with viewing several hundred self-taped auditions.

Imagine if you were chosen to audition out of thousands of actors. The other 2,800 actors didn’t even get the chance that you did.

You have the opportunity to meet face to face and perform for the casting office.

If you’re good and right for the role, we’ll bring you back and continue to foster you through the casting process. If you’re good but not right for the role, you’ve made a lasting impression on us and we’ll remember you for another project.

I’ve never met a casting director who didn’t have an impeccable memory. Even if we don’t, we are known for our organization and you can bet we took very precise notes for the future. We depend on these meetings and our notes. We’ll remember you for the next project and bring you in because we saw that you were a facile actor.

We may have an offer out to an actor and still hold auditions. Sometimes we shoot for the stars (all puns intended), yet we have an inkling it’s not going to work out. Nonetheless, the role still needs to be cast, so we keep on going. My office will always alert the agent that there’s an offer out so that the actor can decide whether he wants to come in. I always suggest you do, because there’s really nothing to lose. All the preparation you do when you come in and give a great audition isn’t wasted; it helps build relationships and we will always remember that great performance.

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions. Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.)

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Trust Your Instincts

Note_CD_Nick_Bertozzi_0302.jpeg.644x650_q100Illustration by: Nick Bertozzi

By Marci Liroff

If you’re in L.A. and haven’t RSVPd to my July Audition Bootcamp, take a moment and check it out. Only a few seats left!

Does the casting couch still exist? You bet. I was disheartened to read this post on Facebook from my agent friend Mimi Mayer of Angel City Talent.

“Anyone here have any of their ladies going in to see [redacted]? Cuz there’s some serious creepy going on right now. Warn your clients that they will be invited to meet the director at the Ritz-Carlton, and should they decline, will be shamed and insulted. Yes, I am naming names.”

I advised her to have her client write everything down while it’s fresh in her mind. Report it to SAG-AFTRA. She can do it anonymously if need be. Protect others.

Her client reported that the director called her cellphone directly (she never gave her number out) and wanted to meet her for a “private” meeting at the Ritz-Carlton later that evening, “just have a drink, relax and ‘talk about the role.’ ”

When she said that she wanted her manager to be involved, he said, “How long have you been in the business? Sometimes managers can lose a job for talent. You need to know that. And you need to lose 15 pounds and I wasn’t going to offer you the role anyway. I just wanted to give you some industry advice.”

I asked if she’d informed the casting director. “Yes, and he was a dick. Sketchy. I told him it was unacceptable, unprofessional, and harassment, and that I was contacting SAG-AFTRA, to which he replied, ‘Go right ahead,’ and hung up on me.”

She also posted about it on social media, on her personal accounts, and on the Agency/Management Facebook page to alert other reps about this situation and to protect their talent.

That’s when the calls and emails started coming in. “My agent colleague from another agency just called me and said he had a client with a similarly creepy experience with these guys,” Mayer says. “And yet another one of her clients went in earlier this week, said it was a little weird but nothing touchy-feely, yet they posted her picture on their Facebook page as being part of the project—no call, no offer. They’re idiots.”

I asked Mimi how she advises her clients. She says, “Always trust your instincts. They are your guardian angels. Do your homework on a project. This goes for the talent and the rep. Keep your team looped in. Our client did this and I feel that she dodged a bullet. Not all young talent will be so lucky, unfortunately.”

I wondered if this only happens to women. Mayer responded, “As unprepared for an inappropriate advance as a young woman might be, young men are more often even less prepared and can sometimes be more easily conned/shamed into doing something that they aren’t comfortable with. If parents aren’t able to teach their children about this, then it’s up to the reps to watch out for our talent. It’s not always easy. Speaking for myself, I know that Angel City does our best to send our clients into professional and safe environments. Our rate on this is very high—but clearly blemished by this experience.”

If something feels wrong, don’t get pressured into doing something if you don’t feel comfortable. I can guarantee you that that job won’t bring you fame and fortune.

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

 

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions.  Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.)

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How Far Would You Go To Get Cast?

05.26.2016_Nick_Bertozzi_Note_CD.jpeg.644x650_q100Illustration by Nick Bertozzi

By Marci Liroff

What’s the wildest thing an actor has done to get the job?

Years ago, when I was working for Fenton-Feinberg Casting, I heard a knock at the door and stepped outside to find a lovely birdcage with a pigeon inside. I brought him inside and put the cage on my desk for further inspection. We found a manila envelope taped to the bottom with a photo of a woman and a note: “Please see me for Brenda Starr! I’m perfect. Attach this little piece of paper to my homing pigeon’s leg and he’ll fly home to me to give me your message. I hope you grant my wish!” No résumé, no contact info, no name on her photo. Yes, folks, yet another reason I keep haranguing you to make sure your contact info is everywhere!

We closed the doors to my office so the bird couldn’t fly away. My boss, Mike Fenton, carefully reached into the cage to grab the bird.

You could’ve cut the tension with a knife. It was as if we were performing surgery.

He got the bird and positioned him with his feet toward me so I could attach the little slip of paper to his leg with a rubber band. As soon as I touched him, he broke free from Mike’s grasp and started flapping like an Angry Bird all over my office. He managed to take down all of my posters and poop on everything. It was like a Marx Brothers sketch. We were laughing hysterically at this point. Hair askew, bird poop all over us, and a bird still on the loose. He finally landed on top of the curtain rod, panting and squawking.

We let the bird calm down—as much as a bird can calm down—and attempted another try. Mike gingerly grabbed him again, and because the poor bird was probably in shock by that time, I successfully managed to get the message on his little leg. We walked outside and launched him.

He flew off, never to be seen or heard from again. We never heard from the nameless actor. To this day, it still stands as the best stunt an actor has ever pulled. I admire her tenacity. Maybe she’ll read this and we can finally connect!

A colleague of mine told me this story about another actor who had a certain, ahem, agenda. “For a sex scene, a young actress came in wearing a mini–tube dress with no panties for a director-producer session. Awkward. It was all guys except for me—and they were less than gentlemanly. They asked her to do the scene again. Ultimately I had to step in to protect her—which they didn’t like. Not pretty.”

Another colleague of mine was an intern years ago in a casting office and a woman kept calling and calling, demanding an audition. “Jesus wants me to be in the Broadway musical you’re casting!” After numerous phone calls from the woman, the CD in charge of the show said, “OK, if Jesus can pay for you to fly to New York, you can come audition next Tuesday.” She did. And she booked the job in “The Color Purple.”

What’s your craziest audition story. How far did you go?

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions.  Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.)

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