Have you ever watched your favorite soap opera and thought that you could do a better job? Ever thought that maybe you’d like to star in a commercial? Here’s how to do it.
As a child I was never a convincing actor:
“No mum, I haven’t been smoking, honest, it was the other kids. No, they’re not my cigarettes, my mate asked me to look after them for him. It was the other kids, they blew smoke in my face!”
Embarrassingly enough, 15 years later I am giving similar excuses to my girlfriend with a similar success rate; she never, ever, believes me!
I’ve always thought it might be nice to act in a commercial at some point. To have people recognize me as I walk down the street; “oh it’s that guy from the Stella advert! Let’s get his autograph!” But where to start? Well, being proactive as I am, I signed up for a casting agency in Prague and attended a casting for a French commercial. It was perfect for me; I had to be a football fan and cheer when the team scored. Nothing to it right? I do that all the time when I watch football. Well, I would just like to say that it can be extremely difficult when the lights and the camera are glaring at you intensely; I froze when asked about myself and gave the most pathetic cheer of my life when it was my cue.
Needless to say, I didn’t get the job, and although I fared slightly better in my next casting, I soon realized that acting was not for me. I think I can write a little better than I can act anyway..
But what does it take to become an actor? I asked the casting director, Lenka, from a casting agency in Prague, about her own acting career and how to make it big in the world of commercials:
What skills does someone need to be a good actor?
“Good” actor… The word ‘good’ is very crucial here, isn’t it? Anyone can become an actor and unfortunately I get to see it very often, I do not mean to insult anyone. But, seeing models and reality stars talking about acting and getting more acting opportunities over people who actually have talent is sometimes sad. A good actor is someone with discipline, persistence, patience and who is willing to work hard. A good actor does not give up. You have to make sure you have done your best and hope and wait and when the first big chance comes, take it! But what makes a good actor good is to keep doing it. Acting is like a muscle you have to exercise.
Can someone with no experience come to a casting?
Of course. Castings are open to anyone. You might be a natural talent. Sometimes being yourself is the best you can do. It also depends on what kind of casting you do. When it’s for commercials, expect to meet a lot of good looking people who might not have studied acting at University but will be better suited for the job then you. Just don’t ever give up.
What is the pay like for a commercial?
I should say highly confidential, right? It depends on where are you doing the casting, what the casting is for and what rights are they buying? There are two different parts of the payment; the daily fees and the buyout fee. If you do casting for commercial in CZ, let’s say it might have only local usage (Czech Republic) for a year expect to get paid daily fee around 10.000 CZK ($420) for the main part. If you are lucky and you make it to the final cut and you get your buyout, that might be around 20.000 – 40.000 CZK ($850 – $1700) the least. But yes there are commercials that pay more and it’s always pleasure to cast them, but clients do not like to buy the exclusivity anymore and that is the reason why you get to see a lot of the same people in commercials on TV.
Can you do anything to improve your chances of getting hired?
Yes. Depending on the part again. You have a speaking part? The least you can do is to memorize the text. You would be surprised how many people do not even bother to do so. Come to the casting ready and familiar with your part. Try different things in front of the mirror to make sure you sound natural and not like you are reading the text you have never seen before. Listen to your acting director he/she known what the client is looking for and that person will be your best friend in the cast. Do NOT come into the casting as a different character. Many actors are pretending they are already the character. The client wants to see you and then how you can act – remember it.
If you do get a job, what can you expect?
Fun! Lots of waiting. Any actor knows that it takes a long time for preparations, building the scene, lights for wardrobe, for everything else and actors come last. Make sure you are ready and prepared. Think about: All of these people have worked hard to make me look good. Be humble.
Any personal advice?
Find who you are. Actors are sometimes lost in what or who they are and they tend to show us what they think we want to see. But what we want and appreciate is honesty and truthfulness. Be true to yourself like that you will always be true as an actor.
If you want to explore your acting career, sign yourself up at local casting agencies and get casted. Audition for parts in theatre productions and explore your artistic side.
Let me know on my Facebook page!