I’ve just returned from an audition in London. It was a commercial casting for a well-known home improvements retailer (for arguments sake, let’s call it Q&B) and it required some serious “these tiles don’t really exist but I’m fascinated by them anyway” acting – I wonder if that’s the kind of thing that Stanislavski had in mind when he created the System?
Commercial auditions are funny beasts. No script, no plan, no “character” beyond a simple word or command. But does this make them a challenge or a chore?
I certainly prefer castings for theatre or film: I feel that I have more control over the casting and the character that I’m creating. That said, I still enjoy the challenge of selling my abilities in the time that a commercial casting gives me. And that’s the biggest frustration of commercial casting: Time.
I once did an advert where I bought a cup of coffee at a café nearby, was called into the casting room and, when I got out, the coffee was still too hot to drink. It felt like a bit of a cattle market. Indeed, coming out of my latest casting, the actress I was playing against turned to me and said “you feel like an idiot, don’t you?” And you do!
Nearly 90% of an advert casting is about look and feel, and an all-day casting might go through hundreds of candidates. There’s an element of powerlessness about the process and that can be pretty demoralising.
But I still enjoy doing them and I learn from each and every one. And the money for adverts is great, which helps. I’m careful about which commercials I go in for – I’m not “wholesome hero guy” after all and I’m going to be wasting my time and my money going for those castings – but if the director wants a funny, geeky guy with a feel of vulnerability,… well, that’s me.
A lot of people ask me if it’s a hassle to get up and down to London from North Yorkshire. Simple answer: no, not really.
If I’ve a couple of days’ notice, I travel down by bus and stay with friends for castings. If I’m given notice the day before I can be in London in a couple of hours by train – it’s more expensive but I’m happy to absorb the extra cost if it results in work.
The benefits of living in North Yorkshire, with its relaxed way of life, great countryside and lower cost of living, more than makes up for any inconvenience.
I’ll finish with a question: What was your quickest or quirkiest casting experience? Let me know in the comments below.
Tim Austin is an Actor working nationally and internationally from his base in the UK. You can find his Spotlight CV here; http://www.spotlight.com/8218-3497-0502 and watch his showreel by clicking here.