Reflections and Resolutions

It’s that time of year- the presents are wrapped, the holiday parties are slowly winding down, the new calendars are ready to be hung up, and the year 2019 is about to pop up everywhere.  It’s hard to believe another year has gone by- and that makes 2 ½ years since we started Slate Casting.  Counting my blessings every day that we decided to go for it.  And as we embark on 2019, it’s also that time of year to reflect on the past year, and more importantly look to the future- to where the bacon tape will take us next.

 Over the past year we have seen thousands of talented people stand on the bacon tape- ready to slate and tackle that next role.  Ashley, Aaron, Molly, Marina and I are so grateful for every single person who has come into Slate to audition.  We thank you for being on time (and keeping to your scheduled audition slot), for bringing your headshot and resume with you (even if we didn’t need it that day), and for your enthusiasm and passion for this crazy business (this applies to everyone!).  You make it fun to go to Slate every day and we absolutely look forward to seeing you even more often in 2019.

 We have also had the incredible good fortune of working with the best clients ever.  Everyone is routing for the actors to “Nail” that audition and that support is so appreciated.  We have worked on some really fun projects with crazy characters, and we have worked on some incredibly moving projects with messages meant to help and heal.  We love them all and in 2019 we resolve to keep ‘em coming! (This is my first resolution for the New Year!)

 We don’t want to bore you with ridiculously out of reach resolutions (there’s no way I’m losing 20 pounds…).  Instead, we have just a few simple ones- and we hope you will hold us to them:

·      Continue to make Slate a fun, supportive, creative environment for talent and clients

·      Work even harder to bring in amazing projects for actors and illustrate Boston’s vast talent pool

·      Maintain and exceed our own high expectations for client service.  (We’ll take any suggestions for different breakfast foods and lunch orders)

·      Continue to cultivate an atmosphere that encourages ‘real’ people to step outside their comfort zone and try something new by auditioning

·      Continue to have a blast teaching kids and adults about auditioning and getting ready to jump into this industry (we really love this part of the job!)

·      Stay on Aaron to shave his beard (ok, maybe that’s just my own personal resolution)

·      NUMBER 1 Resolution:  Have fun and keep standing on the Bacon Tape- it makes me smile :)

  Everyone at Slate Casting wishes you the happiest, merriest holiday season.  Get lots of rest because we predict 2019 will be a rocking year!  We are looking forward to seeing you!

 Happy Holidays!

Entering the “Outside Your Comfort” Zone

As a casting director, I meet so many cool, talented, outgoing, and amazing people every day.  Actors who are truly passionate about their craft and have a complete understanding of this crazy business.  But, what if you’re not an actor. Instead, you’re a doctor, a nurse, you ride a bike to work, you live in the far reaches of Maine, you were a professional boxer, a football player or an EMT?  What if you’ve never auditioned before and you find yourself at Slate because we sent out an email looking for exactly the type of person you are. These so called ‘Real People’ never cease to amaze me.  Not just because they are experts in their field (and many often save lives on a daily basis), but also because they have the guts and the courage to step out of their comfort zone and try something new.  They are putting themselves out there in a way that I don’t think I could have done if I were in their shoes.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot.  I give people so much credit for trying something new.  For letting things happen without really knowing what will happen.  For those of us in the business, we know what to expect from the process of auditioning and if booked (yay!) we know what it’s like to be on a set and to work with a crew and other actors.  For ‘Real People’ this is a whole new world.  They thrive in their own business environment- they are the experts and if we see them in in their workplace, we follow their lead.  In the studio, it’s our job to make these people comfortable, to work with them and guide them through the audition, booking, wardrobe, call times, and the thousands of changes that almost will certainly happen.  And they take it all in stride.

I look at my own life- my family and all the commitments my kids have (I wish my own social calendar was even half as full as theirs) and I think “How could I add one more thing?”.  Yet, when we put out a call for real hospital personnel, real banking customers, real hockey players, real people with real families and real commitments at work and home, they make the time to come in and audition.  They take that hour or so to leave work, audition for 3 minutes, and go back.  They put multiple days on hold, just to have schedules change over and over again. This isn’t their job, this isn’t their life, but they’re willing to give it a go. I marvel at that.  They’re jumping into the unknown for the thrill of trying it, maybe it was on their bucket list, maybe they’ve secretly wanted to perform but medical school got in the way.  Whatever their reason, we are so thankful that these ‘real people’ are willing to give it a try.  We absolutely recognize it’s not easy to put yourself out there like that.  But we are amazed, impressed, and inspired by their courage.  I don’t think I could go out of my comfort zone and put myself in their shoes, but I’m so glad that they want to take a shot at putting themselves in mine. 


Commercial Auditions are... weird!


So many of the auditions you will get in Boston are for commercials.  It’s been amazing to see the steady stream of movies shooting here over the last several years and I certainly hope to see that trend continue.  They are great for the local acting and production communities and are a huge boost for our local economy.  Nevertheless, commercials will continue to provide the most plentiful opportunities for paid on-camera work.

And commercial auditions are…well, they’re weird.  When you audition for a play or a movie, it’s very traditional.  Regardless of the size of the role you are reading for there are scenes and you will have lines which you perform with another person.  You are telling a story and that story will almost always have a beginning, middle and end. 

Commercials on the other hand are typically very short.  15 seconds and it’s done.  Or less.  And because the point of the commercial is to sell a product, most of that time is spent featuring the product.  They rarely tell a story and you are speaking only a couple of words or, as is very often the case, you have no lines at all. 

With commercial auditions, you’re not creating characters, or following story arcs, or thinking about conflict, resolution, beats, or the like.  You’re most often just drinking coffee on a park bench.  And usually you aren’t even given a script.  Just a time and place to be (with your headshot of course).  How do you prepare for that? 

Very simple.  Just be yourself!  We hope that your career will take you to a place you get to Merryl-Streep it, spend weeks researching a role, breaking down a script, and creating something new and exciting and awesome.  But when you are hired for a commercial, you really are just being hired to be you.  There’s no time for anything else.

This can seem frustrating at first.  Does it mean that you are being judged on how you look?  To a certain extent, sure.  Most clients come into a casting with a type in mind for the role.  You either fit what is in their mind’s eye or you don’t. 

But that should also be extremely liberating.  It means that so much of whether or not you get the part is out of your hands.  Either you are what they want or you’re not.  If it’s out of your control, doesn’t that take some of the pressure off when it comes to the audition?  There’s not much you can change about you. 

And pressure is the number one killer of auditions because it leads to anxiety.  You can spot an anxious person a mile away.  They sway, they shake (literally), they can’t focus, and they don’t listen.  If you can’t focus in an audition, if you cannot take direction because you are lost in your own head, why do we or the producer have any reason to believe that you will be able to do so on set, regardless of how perfect you are for the role? 

So, don’t be nervous!  And what’s the best way to defeat your anxiety?  By remembering that there is very little you actually control.  Just be yourself sipping that coffee or riding a stationary bike or chopping vegetables.  Show us that you are a friendly, easy going and attentive person who can follow direction.  Show us your smile.  And relax.  You probably won’t book this job.  But if you come back enough, and you just be yourself, you might book the next one.