By Laurie Records (Casting Director, CCDA)
There are many, many different commercial audition scenarios. Just when you think you’ve experienced them all, I guarantee there will be a new curveball thrown your way. And it’s part of the fun, yes? But there are consistent scenarios that you can expect to encounter on a regular basis and those are the ones you want to know how to handle like a pro. If you are a commercial actor, you will be partnered up and placed into families on a regular basis. There are ample opportunities to shoot yourself in the foot when attending a family or partner audition, and I’m not sure actors always know when they are doing it. So let’s discuss.
Commercial actors should never… sabotage themselves in partner or “family” auditions.
First of all, I’m compelled to say that you should ALWAYS be on time (which is 5 min. early), ready to stay a full 60 minutes (the SAG allotment) and exceedingly patient when attending a commercial audition. When being partnered it’s more important, and when being matched up as a family it’s the most important thing in the world. So if you are ever planning on being early, late, or demanding to be seen NOW… it’s best to save that (craziness, I might say) for non partner/family auditions. There’s a lot more leeway when we are seeing one person at a time.
The truth is, the casting people who have chosen you out of thousands, want you to get the job. You’ve heard it before and I absolutely stand by that statement, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. We want to pair you up with the best partner or family because it’s actually important. You should also know we are potentially privy to more information than you may know. You shouldn’t assume you can be paired with just anybody, even when it seems like you could be. Imagine a boss/subordinate scenario. In theory you could be matched with anyone who walks in the room. But what if there’s a request to see a specific physical match up (height difference, weight difference, etc. for added comedy) or an ethnic mix in partners?
The truth is it could be anything and you wouldn’t necessarily know. You arriving at your audition late or early, or not being willing to wait for an appropriate partner is self sabotage, plain and simple. When the assistant is put on the spot in the lobby and agrees to see you early/late/with inappropriate partner/no partner doesn’t mean your chances of a callback or booking didn’t just plummet. When attending partner/family auditions, be ready to see others who arrived after you, seen before you. It happens all the time when pairing people and your extra patience will serve you well.
Now, what happens when you are asked to go solo when you were supposed to be paired up? Don’t panic! If you arrived on time and have been completely patient, you can believe that is the best possible scenario for you, if that is what we are having you do. Remember, we want you to get the job. That hasn’t changed. It’s up to us to show you in the best light possible, and solo may actually be it. We have to use our discretion and you can trust that. When you force us to see you solo because you have somewhere else to be, you are not allowing us to decide the best way to showcase you, you are self sabotaging. There’s a difference.
I’m asked all the time what actors should do when they are paired with a “bad” partner. My simple and honest answer is to do the best you can. Trust that the powers-that-be can see beyond a bad partner. Actors receive callbacks all the time when their audition partner does not. Don’t freak out. Don’t do anything strange. Do the best you can with what you are given and trust that is enough. Frustrated or annoyed actors don’t get the callback/booking. Just breathe and be the best you can be.
Commercially, partner and family auditions happen all the time. Make sure you are doing everything within your power outside the room to set yourself up well inside the room.