Tuesday, November 12, 2019

And while we're on the subject of actors...

And as if the auditioning process wasn’t hard enough…

Now most casting directors for TV shows want actors to put themselves on tape at home and just email the auditions. This makes it more convenient for casting directors. They don’t have to arrange pre-reads.

But for the actor it requires decent equipment, professional lighting (you’ve got to look good), someone to read with you if the role requires it, and someone to run the equipment. A little editing might be required as well as any technical work needed to send the file. It would also help if the actor memorized the scene.

If you don’t have said equipment there are places you can go to do it, but of course you’re charged for all that.

Yes, one could argue it was a pain in the ass for actors to drive all over town to do these auditions, but there is real value in making a personal connection. Being able to talk to the casting director is very helpful.

Also, you’re shooting at a moving target just putting yourself on tape. When you’re in a room you can ask questions. You can tailor your performance to what they’re looking for. Additionally, the casting director or maybe producer can give notes and allow you to do the scene again. Often when casting, an actor will come in and I’ll like something about them but they miss on some level. Once given direction, they can hopefully give you the quality you want. And you hire them.

When you’re watching a series of taped auditions it’s much easier to just say “No, let’s move on.”

I’m all for changing the casting process if it gives the actor a better chance to shine. That’s not what this new process appears to be.


Orwell said...

" Additionally, the casting director or maybe producer can give notes and allow you to do the scene again. Often when casting, an actor will come in and I’ll like something about them but they miss on some level. Once given direction, they can hopefully give you the quality you want. And you hire them. "

Absolutely. The word "director" is right there in the title "casting director". I don't see how this new process serves anyone's interest, nor how it can result in the right actors being hired. A bunch of videos made in different locations with different audio and lighting, with no direction from the casting director or producer. And watched on a TV or laptop screen. How "paint by the numbers" it all sounds.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the new normal - in everything.
Job candidates are weeded out before interviews by computers, because there are so many applicants.
College essays are read by algorithmic programs, because there are so many.
We may not like it, and it may not be right.
But it's not going away any time soon.

Johnny Hy said...

Ken, during auditions did an actor ever ask you a question or make a comment about the character that made you stop and think "That's a great idea. Let's move it in that direction"?

blinky said...

I am really surprised that there isn't a Tinder or Grindr type app for auditions. You wont get rejected, you'll get swiped left.

Sean said...

"The less human contact the better."

Howard Hughes


Todd Everett said...

The two advantages I see that you didn't mention (and this doesn't mean I think they outweighs the disadvantages) are that you wouldn't have to sit for hours in a room full of people who look pretty much alike, of whom only one will get the part.

Also, you won't have to watch one person at the table turn to the others during the climax of your big scene and sigh.

DBenson said...

I see a boom in outfits that craft expensive audition tapes to hide an actor's defects -- editing and direction to create the illusion of smooth professionalism; camera work and perhaps even some effects to achieve what costume and makeup couldn't do. Most will do it badly, and become the equivalent of writers doing pitches with props and goofy gimmicks. But enough will do it subtly enough that a totally inappropriate actor willing to spend money will edge out the superior pick who used somebody's film student cousin.

Casting directors will start seeing actors who don't match their audition tapes. I presume this is already an issue with glamour photos, but this will postpone the truth until they're a step further in the process and have already eliminated people, leaving them with fewer real choices. Also, will this mean more audition scripts being sent out into the world, where they can be exposed to the Internet snark/outrage/buzz machine? I read where shows like "Mad Men" created fake scenes for auditionees to kept upcoming stories under raps. Even for shows taking that precaution, the people who parse trailers and ads would use them to speculate on what the shows were planning.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

It sounds like it's designed to avoid having to reject people in person. It sounds utterly awful for the actors, and like it removes the possibility of developing relationships for the future. The web is full of stories of actors whom a casting director remembered from an audition where they weren't hired and called in for another project later.

And also...AV Club did an interview with Conchata Ferrell (https://tv.avclub.com/conchata-ferrell-on-two-and-a-half-men-and-her-crusty-1798274363) about how she got hired for 2 1/2 Men. She knew they'd called for an eastern European accent for Berta, but she thought her own Southern roots worked better for her. She wanted to show them both, but arrived on the day to find a packed room, and thought they'd never have time. So she was able to ask them which they'd prefer to see, and they said, do what works best for you. Thus was Berta born. None of that would be possible with this new system - and the character might have lasted the single episode they expected.


Aaron said...

This is happening in the regular job world as well. For a part time gig a few weeks ago (working in a kitchen), a friend was asked to basically do a 5 minute prerecorded job interview. She passed.

In the world of animation, now (non-union) artists are hired virtually, paid little, send in their work via email, and the director just cuts out the stuff they don't want to use. Maybe three story artists work on the same sequence and each one sees a third of their work cobbled together with the work of other underpaid artists they've never met.

Technology! Globalism!

Mike Bloodworth said...

Maybe the way to go is the YouTube rout. Or have a dedicated website with nothing but audition scenes. Then a casting director can go directly to an actor's page. Voiceover people already have a similar type of set up.
You didn't say, but I'm guessing the auditioners are e-mailed the sides for a show. These aren't just random scenes.
The other alternative is to give up trying and just not get out of bed.

Loosehead said...

And where the casting script is from the actual show, will there be an NDA to sign too?

Jane Petrov, Co-Owner/SkyTown Entertainment said...

Thanks for this, Ken.

I would love to hear from some casting directors on this topic of tape vs. in-room auditions. I own a self-tape business and we love putting actors on tape. It's a great way for working actors at all levels to book work from tv, theatre and indie film to major studio productions. There is more competition, but there is also more opportunity.

Break a leg, Everyone!

marquetteman said...

Damn, and showbiz used to be such a meritocracy.

blogward said...

The result of this will be even more nepotism and same-old-castings from the same monolithic agency pool. As well as actors sending in green-screen tapes of themselves that can be CGI'd into the movie/series as required. All that's required after that is for audiences to be comprised of robots.

Brother Herbert said...

Voiceover folk have been doing it this way for years now. The affordability of home-recording technology and ease of just doing an audition from your closet and emailing it in has made this new norm. This is precisely why my voiceover school bludgeons us over the head about the importance of being able to direct ourselves.

I live hundreds of miles from San Francisco yet I'm signed with a talent agency there and have yet to actually set foot in their building. Again, technology has made it so I can simply email my demo to talent agencies around the world and theoretically get signed by any of them without even meeting them in person. If I book a job I may have the option of going to a recording studio local to me and having the producer call in and direct me remotely. Some voice actors I know even have professional-quality home studio setups and can record anything from network promos to narrations to entire roles for animated programs and video games without leaving home.

mike said...

I agree that this is great for the convenience of casting directors but lousy for working class actors like me. I don't have access to a film studio or an entourage of helpers to film/read/light for me, and I can't afford to pay for such a service. Result: lots less auditions. The hell with it. I reckon I'll do music, writing, and occasional local stage work.