Written for Casting Networks News by Terry Berland @berlandcasting.
You’ve done all the things you can to have command and control over your career. You are a solid actor, you have a well-developed resume, you are comfortable auditioning and you know how to be in a room. (see blog What Do Hamilton and Commercials Have In Common?). Even after doing all you can do to take control, there is one element you have no control over that can work for or against you. That is the element of luck.
After you do everything to create your own luck, let’s look at where this mystical area comes into play. Bringing these areas to light can eliminate the stress of fighting against something you really have no control over.
LUCK COMES INTO PLAY ON THREE LEVELS:
The casting director’s choice of who to audition.
Whom the creative team decides to present as final choices to the client.
Whom the client selects.
To add to the complexity, let me remind you that you are being picked either as an individual or as part of an ensemble.
SIX AREAS WHERE LUCK CAN COME INTO PLAY:
1. General Physical Look
Some examples of physical looks can be referred to as slightly off-beat, pretty, conservative or intellectual.
From the start of the process, after your agent submits you based on a breakdown, the casting director has to begin making choices. Based on their personal opinion, a casting director chooses the actors most suitable for the part to audition. The first “sweep” typically consists of a broad array of choices. Then they have to start shaping the audition so it is well-rounded with a variety of talent. That means eliminating some actors. You could randomly be in or out. However, someone who was originally eliminated can be reconsidered.
2. Hair Color
Commercially, unless the character calls for a particular hair color, all hair colors are considered in the first round.
An example of luck coming into play is when the casting director looks at the audition they are shaping up and if the audition is leaning towards everyone having dark hair, then they have to vary the look and pull out some talent with dark hair and replace them with light or red hair. The second round of luck comes in at the callback stage. Those actors who were called back go through another subjective selection process by the creative team deciding which talent they will present to the client for the final look of the spot. The third chance for luck comes with client approval. Many times the client does not chose the first choice and they go with the second or third choice because they subjectively feel this person or combination of people will make a better spot.
The same layers of luck come into play with the remaining examples.
The first character breakdown could call for all ethnicities to be considered. Mathematically there are only a certain amount of time slots in a day and casting has to choose this person over that person to appoint to the time slots allotted.
4. Personality traits
In addition to your look, each and every person has an essence that we might call a personality trait. This element also has to fit the character or the ensemble being put together. Some personality traits can be characterized as funny, serious, or intellectual.
5. Being in the right place at the right time
Recently I was casting a short film. I had just put the breakdown out and was looking over my submission choices. An actor was passing by my office on his way to another casting director’s office, I looked up as we said our “good mornings” and there he was, the very person I was searching for. He looked perfect, had the right essence and acting ability. If he hadn’t passed my office at that moment, I know in this case, I would not have thought of him for this role. I presented him to my client and he booked the film.
6. Shoot dates
The last element of luck would be shoot dates. As the expression goes “as luck may have it” or “when it rains it pours”, you might be booked for something else on the shoot dates. Then there is the other scenario, “book a plane ticket/book a job”. All actors and casting directors seem to say the same thing. Plan a vacation or purchase a plane ticket and that’s when the job comes in.
Knowing we can’t beat luck, the only thing we can do is recognize it and smile at it rather than stress over it.
If you want to sharpen up on your commercial acting technique, follow this link to Terry Berland’s Commercial Acting workshop.