LIGHTS CAMERA ACTION — LET’S PLAY!
Recently, I had the absolute pleasure to attend a one day introduction to casting for TV Commercials.
I decided to attend this course so that I can add value as a booking agent. But after spending the day with the director and like-minded stars in the making; their energy and passion for on-camera work just made me so excited about the industry that I find myself on the edge of my chair thinking “pick me, pick me” when the casting requests come through.
I thought I would share my experience and what I, as a camera-shy girl, learned. This is my own, personal, opinion and what I, personally, took from the class.
The letter C stands for: CONVINCING
This can be intimidating if you are watching yourself on TV with 9 other very talented humans but so necessary to determine where you can improve.
The first 10 seconds. Make sure the client doesn’t hit fast forward on you.
“Hi, my name is Henriette and I am with Agency X”. The casting director will ask you to turn for profile and that’s it. That could be your make or break. Tone of voice, smiling, look into the camera. Use your shoulders, the playback only shows you from your waist up. Make sure you are present and excited to be there. Be authentically yourself. CONVINCING. What can YOU bring to the table. What makes YOU stand out from the rest? Do that!
Turn to the left, turn to the right. Shoulders and head up, good posture. What I learned, look back into the camera when turning to the other side, make eye contact with that lens! With our last playback, this made a HUGE difference to the introduction. TIP for talent with long hair. When you pull your hair back, use the opposite hand so that it doesn’t block the camera’s view of your face.
Show of hands
Ideally look down (so that the attention is drawn to your hands, not your face) and hold both hands up in front of you. Palms facing out then turn the back of your hands to face the camera.
The director taught us how vital it is to create surroundings for yourself, build the scenery in your mind. If you are waiting for your taxi, what would you see around you? Buildings, trees, cars, roads, people, more cars passing, etc. right? Create that space. Get into your little world. Look far down that road whilst you are impatiently waiting for this taxi driver. When they play back your casting, there are just as many buildings and surroundings on camera as there were in the casting room, which is none. CONVINCING. Personally, I find it difficult to stare at a white wall “waiting for my taxi” when there really is only a white wall. Tap into that imagination and create the setting. Take yourself to a similar memory that you can relate you. Have your surroundings in place before the camera starts rolling. Be present.
Happy. Excited. Feeling terrible. Nervous. Bored. Sad. Confused. The camera doesn’t feel emotions. Determine the feelings and action words and practice how to deliver the emotions with your facial expressions. You have to CONVINCE the client that you are happy or sad or bored without using words.
Remember to look up. When you’re thinking, look up with your eyes. Make sure the camera can see your face. Don’t block your face with your hands.
This one is my favourite. It’s the little voice inside your head, yourself. Have you ever seen someone decide which pair of shoes to buy? Their facial expressions tell the story. From the moment, they see the pair of shoes; “Oh, that’s pretty!” to “Can I afford it?” and “Do I need both pairs?” Obviously, we need both pairs. Having an internal monologue will take you through to the end. Take yourself back to a similar situation which you can relate to. It’s not about the shoes but about the emotions/feelings it made you feel.
Mumbling under your breath when you have to do something you don’t want to. A simple “aaah” when something finally makes sense. Subtext helped me forget about the audience. It helped to keep my surroundings visible and my internal monologue flowing. It takes your mind off the camera and it breaks the loud silence when the camera is rolling.
Remember, the audience should be able to relate to you. They should be able to feel what you feel just by looking at your facial expressions, eye/brow work and body language. So, if you are in a coffee commercial, the audience must WANT THAT COFFEE just by seeing how it lights up your life.
I found that looking into the camera, even just for a split second, I completely lost my focus. Surroundings popping like balloons around me and my internal monologue gone. Have you seen a headache tablet commercial? You can see the intense, uncomfortable pain on the model’s face followed by relief when the headache tablet takes effect. I actually felt myself frowning deeper from pain and felt my shoulders relax as they transitioned to relief from the tablet working when I watched the rest of the group perform. That is what you want the audience to experience. CONVINCING.
I can hear the director’s voice as I type this, “Remember to HAVE FUN and be authentically YOU”