The average American spends about five hours a day watching TV. As we know, to keep up with this kind of media appetite, an ongoing stream of talent is needed. But, as a whole, what kind of roles are presenting themselves these days and why? Media trendsetter Lauren Zalaznick, who is credited with revamping the Bravo Network with shows like Project Runnway and Top Chef, looked into the value system of popular TV over the last 50 years. Using the top 10 Nielson rated shows to research America’s “social conscience,” she discovered just how political and economic factors influence our viewing habits. Every time there is a spike in unemployment rates, programs with fantasy and imaginative themes rise along with it. It’s no surprise we don’t want to watch shows about people struggling financially when we ourselves are feeling down as a whole. So, Archie Bunker was kicked off the networks in the late 1970’s when unemployment really started peeking, and was replaced with Dallas and Fantasy Island—shows featuring lavish lifestyles. And during the past 20 years, there has been a decline in the popularity of 1990’s sitcoms like Friends, Seinfeld, and Cheers. These humorous, comforting shows thrived when the economy was going strong. But in 2001, humor takes a back seat to programs featuring themes of judgment like Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, and American Idol in which people are given power to vote people off. This coincides with the 911 attacks, a presidential election decided by the supreme court, and anthrax scares. With unemployment so high these days, the affluence of Jersey Shore and Keeping Up with the Kardashians is looking good to American audiences. So, it’s not just what producers are seeking, it’s what we as a television audience are responding to. For more information, see Lauren speak at http://www.ted.com/talks/lauren_zalaznick.html.
There are times you might ask yourself, “Who are those people on the couch when I enter the audition room for a callback? What’s their agenda, and how do they make decisions?” Understandably, the mystery of the situation can be somewhat unnerving. So, let’s simplify this thing. At any given time there will be a director, producer, production company personnel, and ad agency executives. Have you ever seen Hell’s Kitchen? Well, one might describe it as too many cooks in the kitchen. Each faction has his or her own agenda and the muckity-mucks to whom he or she must answer. Consequently, you often have conflicting needs and points of view. The ad agency wants a star to sell their product, the production company wants someone they haven’t seen before, the director wants the best actor for his reel, and the casting director wants whomever he or she recommended. And there’s most likely a time constraint–not to mention personal favorites and petty prejudices (yes, we are all human). The bottom line is there are many different reasons why you are picked or rejected for a commercial spot. So don’t sweat it—you’re there because they’re strongly considering you for the role, and clearly you’re doing something right!
An increasing number of casting directors are using Casting Frontier for all their casting needs. That’s because CF is the new industry standard. Casting Frontier’s latest shining achievement is their Director Mobile Pack, which consists of two amazing revolutionary apps: Director on the Go, and iSession Mobile. Both were developed specifically for Apple’s iPhone and iPad 2. Now casting directors are able to conduct their entire workflow from the palms of their hands anywhere, anytime. Director on the Go allows casting directors to create and post breakdowns, schedule castings, and track workflow. iSession Moblile allows casting directors to download schedules, search the database for specific talent, scan actor ID barcodes, and even to capture and upload auditions—all from an iPhone of iPad! To learn more about this amazing technology, please visit http://www.castingfrontier.com/industry
When you think of Kate Winslet, do you instantly think Titanic? Mildred Pierce? You likely don’t think Sugar Puffs cereal commercial. But that’s how Kate got her start at the age of 12 in the United Kingdom. And as Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons was coming up as an actor, he played a man raised by wolves in a 2003 Quiznos spot. Whether you rejoiced when your favorite actor won an Emmy last night or went to bed sadly disappointed your hopeful lost out, the Emmy’s serve as a reminder to all aspiring actors that anything is possible if you invest in yourself and keep crafting your talent. Other famous actors who started in commercials include Lindsay Lohan who appeared in over 60 commercials including Jell-O. John Travolta sang he was stuck on Band Aids while rinsing in the shower, Wesley Snipes strutted confidently in Levis, Keanu Reeves was required to drink about 6 Coca Colas during multiple takes on location, and Dakota Fanning spilled pudding on her pink dress in a Tide ad. With this kind of track record, it’s clear commercials can be a good way to hone your craft, become comfortable in front of the camera, and procure much needed exposure—not to mention some extra dough. It’s no secret national commercials pay very well. You can see more actors in commercials at http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/33080
You’ll hear a lot of people say of the entertainment industry how difficult it is to break into the business, how far fetched it is to become a star, and that only a small percentage of actors are really working. And you know? In many ways, they’re right! That’s why you have to live and breathe your acting career. Make no mistake, many, many opportunities are waiting to be seized: commercials, webisodes, independent films, real people roles, and let’s not underestimate the invaluable knowledge and experience theater cultivates. Concentrate on the opportunities that present themselves to you. If a friend invites you to be a part of his or her student film, while it may not win an Oscar, it could prove to be a highlight in your growing reel. And remember, when those opportunities are not making themselves known at any given moment, you can create your own projects. When you keep working, are continually refining your skills, and networking becomes a matter of habit, you open yourself up to all those opportunities that can make your dreams come true.
Ahhh summer…lounging by the pool, brisk morning hikes, sunset walks on the beach. Since we were kids, summer has always been synonymous with fun! But as an actor, summer can be a slow time. The good news is the fall heats up in a big way. Producers and advertisers are returning from their vacations refreshed and ready to roll up their sleeves. Football season and the upcoming holidays are calling for a bounty of commercials to be produced–which means they need talent! So show off your summer glow in up-to-date headshots, enroll in a class, scour the breakdowns, and above all, audition, audition, audition!
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Happy casting and break a leg!