Commercial directors are film directors who specialize in the creation of commercials. And they are among the professionals who are seated in the callback room ready to assess who’s best fit for a particular role. The commercial director’s opinion carries a lot of weight in determining who eventually books the job. In this Master Talent Teachers video, Los Angeles Commercial Director Scott Young shares his work process as well as valuable insights for auditioning actors. Young is an industry veteran who has worked with several of the world’s top ad agencies directing over 150 commercials.

As far as who else is present in the commercial callback room, Young says it can include the casting director, representatives from the production company, as well as members of the ad agency. Art directors, creative directors, writers, and producers are examples of agency workers. With so many individuals invested in which actor to cast, who are the ultimate decision makers? “Of all those people, it’s the director and…any of the creatives from the agency that really kind of hunker down and make the [casting] decision. But as I like to say, anyone can be recruited for an opinion from that group that I just mentioned,” Young says.

When actors enter the callback room, everyone is rooting for them to give a solid audition. As Young puts it: “Everyone wants you to do well. Not because they’re all nice people necessarily. But the reality is if you look good, the more choices that we have, the more choices that there are. Everybody looks good. The casting director looks good; the director looks good for picking the casting director…the agency looks good for picking the director.”

Among the qualities that Young looks for are actors who are easy to work with, exhibit distinctive talent, have good energy, and are able to collaborate. “You’re really looking for someone who brings [the role] to life and when they leave the room it ignites a conversation.”

The mistake Young encounters most frequently during callbacks is the inability to take direction. From his point of view, it seems that some actors simply don’t hear his input. “A lot of actors have problems listening. I used to think they were just bad actors; actually over time, I realize it’s just nerves usually.”

Young advises actors do their homework with whatever limited information they may have received about their role. With this in mind, he says to, “Be prepared and then be prepared to just drop everything that you prepared.” Flexibility is so important because sometimes actors learn a crucial tidbit of information about the part while in the callback room. For example, an actor’s planned cheerful take on the reading might be upended when the commercial executives mention how the character just lost a loved one or is right about to head into battle. Young says, “You want to act like it’s no big deal. You know, just go for it. Just say, ‘Got it! No problem.’” It’s essential to stay calm and be ready to collaborate. “Believe me. If you do well, if you good, people pay attention. You leave the room, people will talk about it.”