Earn More Commercial Callbacks – Behind the scenes insight from Casting Director Tisha Ioli

Are you ready to rock?

Of course you are! And NYCastings wants to help you achieve great success – that’s why we’re sharing behind the scenes tips on how to earn more commercial callbacks. These insights from freelance casting director Tisha Ioli will certainly get your new year’s ball rolling.

Tisha enjoys helping actors! She worked successfully as an actor for over 20 years, before bringing her knowledge of the craft and empathy for actors into the world of casting. Since 1999, she has worked with some of New York’s top casting offices. In addition to casting, Tisha also coaches actors – her classes build confidence while offering specific tools that actors can rely on.

Here is how to – Earn More Commercial Callbacks – with TISHA IOLI

Q: What does the client look for when deciding who to call back – can you describe the mindset?

That’s a difficult question to answer because each client is different. It is almost like saying – How do you choose your mate? One client might be looking for some pre-conceived notion of who they want to cast, and they have a picture in their head of this person. Another client might feel the total opposite, and have no set image in their head. They may be very open to finding the person who makes the copy come alive and also adds the element of surprise to their audition.

Q: How many actors are typically called in? And do the clients watch every take?

There are about 40 on average, sometimes more or less. I think what they do is look first at the type of person and if they are interested they will watch more. I am not sure if they look at every single take of every single person, I would hope they do, but I think that in order to go even further than the first take they have to have a sense that this is the right type of person for them.

Q: What does it take to stand out at an audition?

Standing out has a lot to do with your personality. Clients or casting directors don’t want to hear the read that you think they want to hear. They want to hear the read that sounds most like you, and that brings out your personality, because that is what is going to get you the job. You have to be your best self – be confident, calm, cool, and collected. Those are certainly characteristics that help in an interview setting. And, being able to recover from a mistake is something that helps to let us know that you won’t be devastated if something goes wrong, and that you are good on your feet.

Q: Should an actor add their own words to copy?

Making the copy your own can be a little tricky because you don’t want to insult the writer by changing his/her words. I would first ask permission to loosen it up. If you get permission, adding something tiny – either at the beginning or end – is a perfect way to show them that you can think on your feet, and that you understand the copy and what is going on.

Sometimes, there is also a word or two that you can add that doesn’t take away from the content of the commercial. If there is a sound that you are making, or if you are required to say a word that doesn’t feel comfortable to you, just change it slightly or add to it so that it does feel comfortable. That would make it feel as if it works better for you.

Q: Are there small choices that make a big difference when it comes to getting a callback?

Using your whole body is a good thing, and by that I mean taking your hands out of your pocket. Don’t keep them frozen by your side. Let your hands move if they want to because a relaxed body reads really well on camera. Also, if you are given the opportunity to see the copy beforehand, one of the things you shouldn’t do is try to memorize it. Even if a person is good at memorizing, what sometimes happens is we can feel the actor reaching for the memorized words, which can take away from their personality. People think that memorizing is going to elevate them to the top of the heap and it doesn’t always work that way. Memorizing the copy is usually a bad thing because it takes a lot of the personality out of it.

Also, if you do memorize it is a harder to make a change for the casting director. And then, if you get a callback, it is harder to make a change for the client. The cue card is there for a reason. It is there so that you use it as a guide and a tool, and it really works or we wouldn’t have it there.

Q: Are there clear actions, or inactions, that hurt an actor’s chances of getting a callback?

There are some things that can trip you up like looking nervous or not looking like the right type. I think that those people get passed over quickly.

Sometimes it really does come down to a physical type. I always talk about the things that you can change in an audition, and things you can’t. You can’t change the color of your skin or the age that someone thinks you are. If we are looking for family members and you don’t have the same look as the mother, they are not going to hire you no matter how good you are.

When they are casting a mom and child, they might first be looking for the child because the child is more important in the commercial. Sometimes the mom is more important and has more to say. In that case, they might cast the mom first and then look for a child that resembles her. There are certain things that you just can’t change, and that is one of them. I have seen happen a lot.

Also, it is good to know the room, to feel the mood of the room. If you go in and they are not very chatty, a very chatty person will annoy them. If it is a quiet room, and people are not really looking at you, it is hard to go in there and ask them about their weekend. Go in and feel your way around. If they are very chatty, then chat away. But you have to feel the mood and tone of the room and go with that.

Another thing that could hurt you at an audition is commenting negatively on the product. I know it sounds like no one in the world would do it but I have seen it happen. The client would say Could you take a bite of that? and the actor would say I would, but it is so disgusting. It is shocking to me that someone would say that, but it does happen.

Q: When there are two takes, does making the 2nd take very different – help to earn a callback?

I think you have to take the cue from the casting director, but I think generally when we do two takes it is just to get you closer to where we want to you to be. It is not like a legit audition where you choose a monologue to show as much range as possible. That is a different animal.

Sometimes in a commercial callback they might ask you to take it in a different direction, that is where you would play with that sort of thing.

For casting directors, if we get one really good, clear take we might ask the actor to do something different on the second take because there is nowhere else for them to go except in the opposite direction. If someone isn’t so fabulous on the first take we will try to direct them in such a way that they will be closer on the second take to what the client is looking for.

As casting directors, what we are trying to do is give our client a good, solid, clear take that has an understanding of what they wanted. It doesn’t have too much to do with doing things different, unless they clients says to have them do the first take one way and then have them do something completely different. But it doesn’t normally happen that way.

Q: What do most actors not realize about the callback process?

That it really isn’t all about their talent necessarily. It isn’t the best person wins. It has to do with type. If they are looking for a nurse – does she look like a nurse?

I think that actors feel like it is their fault if they don’t get a callback, but there are so many other factors that come into the process of choosing someone.

You have to go in, do your best, and forget about it. You have to leave the audition room without any regrets. You have to know in your heart that you did your best. And if you didn’t feel like you did your best job, you have to know there will be another time to do better. Ask yourself why you didn’t feel like you did your best. Did you feel like you didn’t take direction? Did you freeze in the middle of it? Then, next time maybe you can just take a breath before someone gives you direction, and really try and give them what they want.

A good, directable actor is really a gem. As long as you can take direction and give the casting director, or director, what they want – you are half way there.

Q: Do you have any inspiring advice about callbacks?

I do think it is important to play and be able to feel free enough with the copy to change it up a little, if that is allowed.

Also, you can’t underestimate the power of a smile or the power of being professional. So you go in, you listen, you take direction, and you do what’s asked of you. If there is an opportunity to ask a question, certainly that is allowed. You don’t want to ask too many questions, and make it and seem like you need a lot of help. There should be a nice give and take at the callback, which helps the client feel confident that you have a good understanding of what is going on.

–Thanks Tisha!

If you have more questions about what it takes to earn commercial callbacks – take Tisha Ioli’s next class! Click Here for more info.


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