Acting for Kids & Teens: An Interview with Christine Scowley, Casting Director by Tony Nation

Acting Programs for ChildrenWhat’s the best way for kids and teens to start exploring acting and teen performance in NY?

One of the best ways to start exploring acting as a youth is to simply get involved with your school or local theatre and/or music programs. If you enjoy performing in school plays or community theatre, you may then want to take a few acting classes, workshops or coaching sessions to see if you are interested in furthering a career in acting. The best way to decide if you really want to pursue acting is to take every chance you get to perform! The best way to gain experience as a kid/teen is to participate in school theatre productions, student or short film projects, and/or by becoming involved in community theatre as well as going to see performances that inspire you. If you are very serious about pursuing acting then you should research the materials needed to further your career including headshots, resumes and additional study/course work in the field.

What do you recommend to parents who have kids/teens looking to pursue a career in acting?

Parents should be aware of the tools, time commitment and energy that it takes for their child/teen to pursue a career in acting. Although acting should be fun for the child/teen, it’s also a business and should be treated as such. Kids/teens need to have business materials (including headshots and resumes); they will need to search for an agent or manager (and then decide which one is right for him/her); kids/teens will need to attend and be prepared for auditions and likely participate in classes, workshops, or coaching session. All of this requires a certain amount of dedication from the kid/teen AND the parent. Parents and kids/teens should discuss the financial issues involved in pursuing an acting career and set a budget. Parents should also be mindful of the types of projects that the kids/teens are auditioning for and research those projects to make sure they are appropriate for their kid/teen to participate in.

What skills do kids/teens need to have in order to pursue a career in TV and film?

Kids/teens need to have a positive attitude! They need to be diligent when preparing for auditions. They should know the material and rehearse before coming into the room to audition for the casting director. Kids/teens need to be mindful that when working on their craft different processes work for different people, so each kid/teen should find an outlet that helps them study, work on, and perfect their craft. For some this might mean belonging to a theatre group, for others it might be taking classes, and still others might find a variety of techniques helpful. When you are acting… you are a work in progress… you can always learn more and grow more by exploring all available avenues. If you are motivated, persistent and dedicated this will take you far!

What do you look for in a good kids/teen headshot?

Smiles. I look for nice natural smiles. The more natural the actor appears in the photo, the better. Also, for kids/teens it’s EXTREMELY important that the headshot represent the current age and current look of the kid/teen. Kids and teens grow quickly and headshots must be updated to reflect the current look and age of the kid/teen. Solid colors are best to wear for your headshot (blues, greens and sometimes dark reds tend to work well). It’s best not to wear black, polka dots or patterns that distract from your face. Your face is the primary focus – your nice, natural, smiling face!

How do I get noticed for projects casting in Los Angeles?

Watch for casting notices from the projects that cast in LA and submit for them! Many casting directors are now searching nationwide for actors and often view audition tapes from out-of-towners for various roles. Be prepared to put yourself on tape. Follow all of the instructions given to you by the casting director when you are taping an out-of-town audition (note – research productions that ask you to audition via tape and make sure that production is right for you). Be prepared to travel for auditions if you feel that it’s important to audition in person. Discuss the different opportunities available to you with your agent or manager if you have one.

What is the difference between auditioning for theatre projects and film/TV projects?

Auditioning for any kind of project is an important skill that all actors should prepare for. Different auditions require different skill-sets. On-camera auditions differ from theatre auditions in that some auditions require a more broad performance and others a more quiet introspective performance. It all depends on each individual audition and what the end goal is. Each audition will require a different tone, spectrum and playing field. The most important piece of advice I can give is KNOW what audition/role you are going in for. Research your role. Have a point of view. If it’s an on-camera audition don’t walk out of frame! Make the role unique and make it your own. Be prepared, be professional and knock everyone’s socks off!
Christine Scowley is a Casting Director in Los Angeles and a member of the Casting Society of America. Scowley cast the hit Nickelodeon series HOW TO ROCK and Disney Channel’s MOVIE SURFERS. She also cast the series SMASH CUTS for the CW and conducted the nationwide search for the pilot HUGE for ABC FAMILY. Her Nickelodeon credits also include the pilots BIG TIME RUSH and EVERY WITCH WAY (to air this year), and she cast a special episode of TRUE JACKSON VP. Scowley also casts for Disney Family Online and consults on music talent for Sony Music International. Additionally, Scowley created and produced the series ROCK THE CRADLE with Fremantle Media for MTV, which featured the children of rock stars competing in a sing-off. Scowley often travels the country conducting nationwide searches and she loves working with actors and music talent!

An Interview with John Keon, NY Headshot Photographer by Tony Nation

Before you go digging into New York casting calls, you’ll want to make sure you have a great headshot on hand that accurately reflects what you want to project to casting directors. Headshot photographer John Keon shares what makes a successful headshot.

How did you get started as a photographer?
I have appreciated beautiful photography for most of my life, but I didn’t buy my first DSLR camera until 5 years ago.  At first, I was using it mostly to take photographs casually – simply to capture great moments in my life.  When I started getting compliments on those photos, I realized I could pursue a career as a photographer. About a year and a half ago, I started taking headshots of my friends and doing photo shoots for free to build my portfolio. These sessions provided me with great on-the-job training about the relationship between the model and the photographer, as well as ways I can build on my talent. Even today I continue to learn from my photo shoots, which is one of the best parts about my job. It doesn’t hurt that my friends all love having their photos taken – I get lots of practice!

What should an actor look for in a headshot photographer?

Obviously I think you need to like the style of the photographer first.  You can usually tell right away by looking at someone’s portfolio if they are someone you want to work with.  But I think there is a more important quality an actor should look for: chemistry between the actor and photographer.  If you and the photographer don’t get along, the camera will pick up on it, no matter how good the actor is at acting.  So look for someone who makes you comfortable, and doesn’t intimidate you.

How should an actor prepare for their shoot day?

First, get some rest! You’d be surprised what a difference some beauty rest makes. Next, put a little time into thinking about your ideal shots. A headshot photographer will have ideas about what will look good – that’s part of our job – but ultimately they are going to be your headshots, representing you. Look at the photographer’s portfolio. Are there shots you particularly liked? (Hopefully, since you’re shooting with them!) Mention those to the photographer. Do your research.

(The actor needs to think about what they want to get out of the shoot.  A photographer will have their own ideas about what will look amazing, but at the end of the day you need to make sure that it will work for your final headshot.  So do some research and look around at other people’s photos.)

What types of clothing are best for a photo shoot?

Nothing that wrinkles easily, nothing sheer, nothing baggy, nothing with logos.  Basically your clothes should be fitted and comfortable.  I do like to see colors in a photo, and maybe some subtle prints, but that is a personal preference.  If you bring something with a lot of patterns it will most likely draw attention away from your face, and that is usually not the goal with a headshot.

So consider your wardrobe carefully, but don’t overthink it. Bring a couple of outfits with you so you don’t regret wearing that wrinkled shirt that looked so good on you the night before!  Also, the photo should convey your personality as well as the role you want to play.  You don’t want to look like a high school kid if you are auditioning for a role in something like Chicago – or vice versa!

Do women need a hair/make-up stylist on the shoot?

Each woman is different.  I personally do not require you to have make-up and hair professionally done.  You should feel comfortable with being able to at least apply a simple layer of make-up that looks natural.  One of my clients once used the make-up artists at Sephora to get her face done. It cost her about as much as she’d have paid for a lip gloss, and she looked awesome. However, there is something to be said about having someone on location with you, if nothing else than peace of mind.

What do you prefer-studio or natural lighting?

I prefer natural lighting because it makes each photo shoot unique.  It also makes the location much more flexible.

What are your thoughts on retouching?

Of course there will always be some retouching done – but there is a line between making you look like the best version of yourself, and making you look like someone else.  It is similar to plastic surgery (which I’m not a huge advocate of): you should really know when to say enough is enough. It can be so easy to get a little carried away and remove every single mole or freckle, take out every single wrinkle, and bleach the teeth whiter than snow. Your photo, however, should look like you! And I assume it is safe to say that you are not an upper east side cougar. I like a photo to look natural.

John Keon started his photography business nearly two years ago, although he has had many more years to develop a passion and love for photography.  The majority of his skill has been self taught, however he’s very fortunate to be surrounded by inspiring and talented people which he’s learned so much from.  This was one of his motivations of moving to New York four years ago from Washington State.

If you have more questions, feel free to contact him via his website at:  johnkeonphotography.com

Musical Theater: An Interview with Tina Marie Casamento, Producer/Vocal Coach, BroadwayDemo.com

If acting in New York City involves musicals for you, here are some tips of the trade offered by renowned vocal coach Tina Marie Casamento.

How did you get started in Musical Theater?

I began performing right out of high school doing roles in local dinner theatre productions, but I think I knew I had to be involved in musicals since I was a small girl. It is a passion of mine, and I adore all aspects of the art.

What skills do Musical Theater actors need to have to compete in today’s Broadway market?

I think a good knowledge of the repertoire and how you fit into the market from a casting point of view is essential. You need versatility in your voice and range, and a variety of songs in your book that represent the kind of roles you can play. You also need the drive to create your own opportunities and look for the theatres that may have a show that you are right for.

What do you see as the future of Broadway?

We are moving in a direction of pop and contemporary musical styles that incorporate the kind story telling inherent in musical theatre. This makes musicals  accessible to new audiences and is inspiring the young writers and new artists. There is something for every taste in musical theatre, be it opera, jazz, pop, or even rock. Still, I love the traditional styles that are  influenced by Rogers and Hammerstein, Sondheim, Bernstein and the greats. I think these paved the way and have influenced the hits  like Les Miz, Wicked, Light In The Piazza and  Beauty And The Beast. These types of shows will continue to represent Broadway along side the newer forms.

What does your company BroadwayDemo.com do?

We provide an affordable means for musical theatre artists to record a high quality vocal demo, and we go a step further by making their demo available to casting professionals 24/7 in a simple yet individualized web page. Artists who wish to have mp3s of their tracks can purchase our Premium Package, while budget minded artists can purchase our lower priced Producer Package, which includes 24/7 online access to your demo but not the mp3s. From helping the artist choose their song list, to recording several takes of each song and editing the best takes, to creating the webpage, we do it all! We pay all licensing to ASCAP and BMI so online sharing of your demo is legal, and you can embed you Broadway Demo into your personal site too and still be covered by our licenses. We also promote our members on Facebook when they have success stories, as well as inclusion in our showcase page, which is frequented by new composers looking for voices for demos of their new works.

Why is a Broadway Demo needed by today’s musical theater actor?

As an artist you must be proactive! It is becoming more and more competitive, and harder to get seen for projects. When a casting director or agent is deciding who to give that last appointment spot to, a vocal demo and an online presence is the difference between getting seen or not! We have so many clients sending us stories of how their BroadwayDemo got them an agent, got them a big audition, got them a callback when someone Googled them after an EPA or Chorus call.  After an EPA or Chorus Call when the casting pros are looking through their “keep” pile they can actually visit your demo on an iPhone, computer or iPad and might hear a different style or sound they didn’t know you had. I was offered a cruise contract without even going to an audition. They simply FOUND me on Broadway Demo.  Broadway Demo is what mailings were when I started in this business. Everything is now a click away

Do actors need a webpage or website for their business?

A webpage should be like a headshot and resume. BroadwayDemo is like a digital headshot and resume with a vocal demo! We consulted casting directors and agents when opening the business and designing the pages. They wanted simple, easy to access, clean and unfussy. As few clicks as possible.  The casting professionals know that we do not do any pitch correction, and it is an accurate representation of the singer. You wouldn’t hand a headshot resume that was 12×14, with a 3 page resume to a casting pro, so why have a webpage that is over stuffed. The main information should be right their and easy to navigate.

Follow this link for more information on BroadwayDemo.com

Tina Marie Casamento

(Producer/Vocal Coach) Tina Marie is one of NYC’s premier musical theatre coaches.  She a Casting Associate for NETworks tours with several projects, and is also a working actress. Acting credits include understudying the lead roles in the First National Broadway Tours of Victor Victoria and Kiss Me Kate,Marie/Ensemble in Beauty and the Beast (Las Vegas) and regional productions of Into the Woods (Bakers’s Wife and The Witch) and Falsettos (Trina) . Currently, she is in a development deal with EMI Music Publishing for a Broadway musical that she conceived entitled Chasing Rainbows about the childhood of Judy Garland with book by Tony Award winning writer Thomas Meehan, and existing music from the MGM/Feist Robbins catalog. She spent 4 years as the Musical Theatre Panelist for the Young Arts, National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts (NFAA) ending her last 3 years as Chair. Tina Marie directed Oklahomaat the Village Light Opera Group in NYC and The Fantasticks at Gallery Players in Brooklyn, as well as “Little Shop of Horrors” at Infinity Theatre Company.

David Libby

(Pianist/Arranger)
David’s Music Director credits include Play it Cool(Off Broadway), The Shadow Sparrow (O’Neill NMTC), That Other Woman’s Child (NYMF and Chattanooga Rep), A Lasting Impression (East 3rd Productions),The Fantasticks (Gallery Players and Infinity Theatre), Little Mary (Not For Broadway Festival) My Way (Infinity)and Little Shop of Horrors (Infinity, Music Supervisor).  Pianist/Keyboardist credits include Beauty and the Beast (Las Vegas) and Kiss Me Kate (First National Broadway Tour), as well as rehearsal/audition pianist work for the national tours of (among others) Hairspray, Spring Awakening, Oliver!, The Drowsy Chaperone,and Rent. He is currently arranging songs from the MGM catalog for a new musical about Judy Garland’s early life entitled Chasing Rainbows,in collaboration with EMI Music Publishing, book by Thomas Meehan.

Voice Overs: An Interview with Richard Bianco, On the Air Studios by Tony Nation

on the air studiosHow long have you been working with V/O actors?

On The Air Production Studios was established in 1988. My background was originally in broadcasting. One of our services at On The Air Studios consisted of producing demos for clients who were interested in becoming on air personalities. At that time, radio enthusiasts wanted to become the next Imus or Scott Shannon. The radio market started to decline as radio stations started more and more to become dominated by big radio conglomerates’ and DJ’s were for the most part replaced by automation. We started receiving inquiries from actors who wanted to add a Voice Over demo to their resume.

What are the common misconceptions about the Voice Over business?

The belief that all you need is a great voice to make it in this business and that Voice Over is a fast and easy way to make money. It is not your voice but how you use it and market yourself.

What are the skills that V/O actors need to possess?

The ability to sound natural, confident and believable all require a myriad of acting skills. The narration talent is a master story teller. The reason that celebrity actors are booked so often for major commercials is not necessarily for their notoriety but because they do it so well. V/O actors do possess many talents which to the untrained ear are overlooked. This is because they make it seem so effortless.

When should a V/O actor record their commercial demo reel?

Only when they feel that they are properly trained and confident in their skills. Also, V/O actors should work with a seasoned producer that can guide them the process.

What should be on the commercial demo reel?

My answer to that question is always ‘You’….. We all have different personalities, unique little inflections in our voices and so on. My job as a professional producer is to find that niche that makes the VO actor marketable and stand out from others. The material selected must take advantage of the VO actors uniqueness. The final results in the demo reel should be the essence of ‘you’.

Do V/O actors need other types of demos? Promo, animation, narrative?

Yes they should. As a VO actor you need to be as diverse as possible. It is very important though to find the areas you are the strongest at and focus on that. If you can interpret commercial copy well or if narration is your forte then that’s where your efforts should be….. Do not try to over reach. If your plan on adding a lot of variety to the demo, don’t mix them all in one reel, it will only confuse the listener and make it more difficult to place you. It is sometime common to have two tracks on one reel consisting of a Commercial and Narration, Radio imaging and Animation etc, etc should be on separate demos.

Richard Bianco has more then 25 years of experience in broadcasting and audio production.  At On The Air Studios, Richard prides himself in providing one-on-one service to his clients in a relaxed,  professional atmosphere.  Check out his website for more information.

If you’re looking for a voice over class in New York, visit our classes page here at Actors Connection.

Ask a Casting Director: What’s the difference between first refusal and a hold?

If you want to be cast to perform in NYC, it’s important to know what casting directors mean when they talk about a hold versus a first refusal. A casting director explains.

Q:  What’s the difference between first refusal and a hold?

A:  This question come up a great deal. Technically nothing. Many years ago SAG came up with a rule that we weren’t allowed to use the word “hold” unless we were just about to book someone. We needed to use the term “first refusal”. Anyone who used the word “hold” and didn’t book the talent was subject to a session fee if the talent didn’t get booked. Most Casting Directors will put all talent on first refusal when the callbacks are given to them because the advertising agencies only want to submit talent to the client if they know that they are available. However, “first refusal” is just a courtesy. Talent is allowed to accept other work even if they were on first refusal for another project. It will not make that Casting Director very happy but they do have that right. When talent is put on first refusal all that it really means is that you are still in the running. You may be the only one on first refusal for that role or there may be 50. Also if two different clients want to put you on first refusal for the same date, the proper thing to do is give the first one who calls a first refusal and the other one a second refusal. If the second client is ready to book, it is customary to do what is called a “book or release” which means that first client has to make a decision. One disclaimer…..rules change all the time but this is my understanding of the the rules.  It is not locked in stone.

Getting Started in Horror Films with Pamela Kramer, Casting Director, Bradley Baron by Tony Nation

pamela kramerI recently had the pleasure of interviewing Pamela Kramer, Casting Director and owner of Bradley Baron, who has cast for film and TV as well as hundreds of commercials, industrials, and voice-overs.  Pamela recent film casting includes the independent film, “Torture Chamber”, scheduled for release in late 2012.  Currently, she’s in pre-production for TWO Horror films, a sci-fi/fantasy film called “Out of the Lantern” with award winning Director Peter Vinal and just finished casting for a new TV series called TAILGATE 48 on the Big 10 Network.


How did you get started in casting?

I’ve always had an eye for talent and one of my many strong points is that I can see the energy/aura around people. Therefore seeing their potential, not only for actors, but people from all walks of life.

I was teaching acting and wanted to offer opportunities for my students. So I went to the local cable networks in NJ and got them interested in using my actors in their local commercials. At the time, no one thought that cable would actually last, and well look at it now! From there I went to other producer’s and then to film producer’s, writer’s and before I knew it, it started to take on a life of it’s own.

I had at the time over 150 students and wanted to open up a variety of doors to help them gain experience.  Through some of the more well known Casting Directors of the time, I assisted with  background for major films & commercials. I was still young and not sure what was driving me, but I had many nights of no sleep from organizing the talent so they could gain experience. In actuality I lost money helping them. But those early days of figuring it out, help me to find my own passion into the casting world.

I cast for principals down the board now, except for Theater, to which I love deeply, since that is the roots of my beginnings.

How did you get started casting horror films?

Through my cable contacts I became friendly with several young filmmaker’s who were working at one of the local cable companies. I started working with them on low budget horror films and one film lead to another. 100 percent of all my work comes from word of mouth and I would get calls from people who had heard about me from other Directors or Producer’s.

It does pay to be a people person. Remembering a person’s name, being dependable and being of service to whatever situation might arise, get’s you noticed. Now I am not speaking about picking up trash……but I am speaking of being a team player and working to make the project work. Everything I do for my clients is for the benefit of their projects.  Loving the subject that your casting for, such as horror films, makes it that much more exciting. I grew up with horror films of all areas of the genre and being involved in that process brings your creativity to high speed.

What are some of your favorite horror films?

There are so many that I love! I love all the Hellraiser series of the 80’s, Carrie, Dressed to Kill, The Hand, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, the television series Dark Shadows. I would run home after school everyday to watch it.  Bloody Sunday, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Rosemary’s Baby…way too many to list all!

What are some of the skills that actors need to have for this medium?

Patience. Excitement for the genre. The openness to change and bend. Having the ability to work together for the best outcome of the film. On some of these low budget films you really do get your best training. Usually you have one or two takes, and then they move on. Many times the scripts are not well written, but you need to as the actor, make it work. On most sets, there are dialogue changes at the last minute, so you need to bend and go with it. Actors that pull prima donna moves, usually don’t get asked back. No one has time to cater to anyone’s ego. Especially when there is such a huge pool of talent that wants your role.

If an actor wants to get started in horror films, what are some of the things that they can do to move forward?

Go to the conventions like Chiller Theater. There you can meet the Directors & Producers in person and bring a business card with your picture on it. Producers/Directors quite often in low budget horror films will cast the actors themselves. This opens up opportunities that most actors would not ordinarily have.

If you’re interested in NY acting classes with Pamela, her next 4-Week Horror Film Class starts on Thursday, November 15th at 7pm.

6 Tips On How Actors Can Deal With Loneliness by Stan Popovich

Some actors and celebrities deal with loneliness when they are not in the spotlight. Here is a short list of techniques that actors can use so that the fear of being alone doesn’t become a major issue in their lives.

1.Find An Activity
Find an activity that you enjoy and where you can meet a lot of people. Lots of New York acting schools have short-run classes that you can enroll in. Doing something that you like to do will make you happy and will increase your chances of making friends.

2.Spend Time With Animals
Spending time with an animal or pet can help us to feel better. Animals can be of good company to all of us whether we are alone or not. There are many local shelters that could use your time and talents.

3. Helping Others
There are many people out there who could benefit from your time and skill sets. Helping others can give you a source of pride and accomplishment and also can lead to friendships.

4. It Could Be Worse
It isn’t fun being alone, but sometimes there are worse things. For instance, imagine that you are married or stuck in a relationship that you can’t get out of and also makes you miserable. As a result you are stuck living with someone that you can’t stand and makes you depressed. With this viewpoint, being alone doesn’t sound that bad.

5. Be Constructive
Sitting around and doing nothing will not make things any better whether it is dealing with the fear of being alone or something else. Take it one day at a time and stay committed in trying to solve your problem.

6.  Things Can Change
Nothing remains the same forever. No one can predict the future with one hundred percent accuracy. Events change all of the time. Even if the thing that you feared does happen there are circumstances and factors that you can’t predict which can be used to your advantage. You never know when the help and answers you are looking for will come to you.

Remember that everyone deals with loneliness sometime in their life. Focus on your life and don’t compare yourself to others.   If being alone bothers you then seeing a counselor can help you with these issues.

BIOGRAPHY:

Stan Popovich is the author of “A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods” – an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to:  http://www.managingfear.com/

Creating Your Film/TV Demo: It’s All About YOU!

by Tony Nation

Lately, the subject of an actor’s film and TV demo has been coming up over and over again.  From actors who I work with here at Actors Connection to currently re-editing my own.  It’s a tough subject as you can spend weeks trying to guess what the industry wants to see.  But in this day and age of technology, it’s all about selling what you do efficiently and effectively.  New York casting directors want to see film and TV demos. So what does an actor need in their demo and what should it say about you-the actor?

The first thing to remember is that you want to showcase your best work FIRST!  Why?  Well if an agent or casting director doesn’t like what they see they aren’t going to continue watching.  Pretty simple right?

Second, your demo is all about you.  This is your time to be selfish and to sell what you do in three minutes or less.  It’s not about other actors and their work, it’s about YOU!  These are your 3 minutes to shine and to spotlight your range and the types you play.  And speaking of time, your demo should not be longer than 3 and a half minutes.  You should be able to show everything that you do in that time using three to five scenes.

Third, you want to sell yourself as a leading player.  To sell yourself as a one line actor is not what you want to show on your demo as a lead in.  Save that for the middle of your demo to show that you’ve been on TV shows or films with stars and that we can trust you on set.  For your film/TV demo reel, you also do not want to use commercials or anything where you are not speaking.

Fourth, you want to make sure that we recognize you right off the bat.  From your headshot with contact information leading into your first scene, we need to identify you.  If you are disguised or we aren’t sure who you are in the scene from the get go, that isn’t the scene to begin with.  You never want to confuse your viewer.

Fifth, you want to use reel from actual projects.  For your demo, I don’t recommend using taped monologues or class work.  It’s just like headshots.  It’s all about quality.  Would you want to use a photograph for your acting business that was taken by your friend or mother in your backyard?  No, you want the best professional headshot that you can get as it represents you and your brand.  It’s what gets you in the door for auditions or meetings with agents.  It’s the same with your demo.  From showcasing it on your website to appearing on ActorsAccess.com, you want to make sure that it’s all about YOU and marketing yourself well to your next buyer.

Sixth, how should your demo reel actually look?  Here are a couple of demo reels that I feel showcase the actor extremely well:

Demo Reel 1

Demo Reel 2

If you are looking for an editor for your Demo Reel, I recommend Todd Wall at Wall2WallProductions-he’s one of the best!

CD Jen Rudin Talks Casting Office Etiquette for Adults and Kids By Kelly Crisp

Jen RudinCasting offices can get crowded, especially with kids. Imagine a large group of children in a cramped space, waiting to be judged by strangers. Add strollers, siblings, gameboys, iPads, food, backpacks, and cell phones to the picture. Then imagine kids running lines and primping, preparing for their “big break.” Not to mention the chatter about who booked what job and the catch-up conversations between parents. Acting classes for children (let alone for adults) may not ever have covered audition etiquette.

Auditioning is part of life for a child performer. And it’s tough.

Jen Rudin, an award-winning casting director for film, television, animated movies, video games and theater, began her professional acting career at age eight. By twelve, she knew she wanted to be a casting director. Rudin believes in “creating an honest, positive, and comfortable audition environment.”

“It’s a very small world and certainly casting directors talk to agents and production managers,” says Rudin, who has spent much of her career casting for Disney and now works through her own agency, Jen Rudin Casting. Her work includes “The Princess and the Frog,” “Chicken Little,” “Meet the Robinsons,” and “The Incredibles.” Upcoming films include Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” and Peter Bogdanovich’s “Squirrels to the Nuts.”

Rudin views the waiting room as a professional workspace. “You may not think you are distracting [actors] but subconsciously you are shifting their focus away from their audition material and ultimately depleting their focus,” she says. “That can be really detrimental.” Rudin believes that casting office etiquette begins with kindness and respect. “As my father likes to say ‘All you have is your name, so leave a good name.’”

Casting kids means, to some extent, casting their parents as well, and Rudin looks for “good” people. “Be pleasant to the casting assistant in the waiting room because they are going to tell me anything wacky that happens,” she explains. “It’s their job. I hear plenty of stories. Sometimes I will love a kid and say to my assistant, ‘So, what happened in the waiting room today?’”

Rudin suggests that conversations, especially between families, be kept to a minimum. “There is nothing that another actor, or another mother, is going to say to you in the waiting room that is going to make you feel better at that moment,” she says. Any audition-related conversations with your child should take place once you leave the building and be limited to “Did you have a good time?” “Whatever you say in a public space could end up being overheard,” warns Rudin. “You never know who is in the elevator or in the toilet stall next to you.”

Shaking hands is one of Rudin’s pet peeves and strongly discourages the practice to prevent the spread of germs. “It’s bad enough I have to touch hundreds of resumes during the day. I don’t want to shake everybody’s hands,” she explains. “A kid should come in and be themselves. Shaking hands seems a little manufactured and a little artificial to me.”

Finally, Rudin adds, “Take it all with a grain of salt. You’ve got to go on a million auditions before you get something. If you can remember that, you are going to be a lot happier in the waiting room, and your child will give a better audition.”

Casting Office Etiquette Tips

Arriving at the Audition
Arrive 10 minutes before your appointment time. To ease overcrowding, don’t arrive too early or late.

Don’t bring strollers or siblings, especially toddlers.

Finish eating, drinking and attending to the bathroom before you arrive.

Come Prepared
Actors should prepare before they arrive. You can’t control the casting office environment and there are times when casting may run ahead of schedule.

Review the audition sides quietly without distracting others.

Be Quiet and Respectful
Do not speak with other actors. A simple hello is best.

Do not discuss industry business such as recent auditions and bookings.

Use of Electronics
Never play electronic games.

Headphone volume should be kept to a minimum.

Do not talk on cell phones. Place cell phones on silent.

Privacy Considerations
Don’t stalk the sign-in sheet. It can make others feel uncomfortable and lends itself to gossip.

Listening at the door is awkward for your child and others. You don’t want to be that parent.

The Audition
Be ready when your name is called.

Greet staff with a simple hello and be ready to slate. Allow staff to direct any small talk.

Do not shake hands with casting director or staff.

Parents should not go into the audition room with their child, regardless of their age. An important aspect of the audition is how confident a child feels in a room with strangers.

No tears. Reevaluate if your child does not enjoy auditioning.

Leave the room with a simple thank you and goodbye.

After the Audition
Don’t linger. Quietly collect your belongings and leave.

Do not discuss what took place during the audition until you are outside of the building.

Do not correspond with the casting through social media. Use a post card or email.

Be cautious about reading or sharing information about castings via the internet.

LOOKING YOUR BEST! with Brandi Washington

Brandi Washington is a makeup artist who learned the ropes from her mother at an early age. Brandi is pursuing a career in acting in New York City but feels that her creativity is too outrageous to put into only one craft. Since living in NYC Brandi has worked at Sephora where she learned how to apply makeup on different skin types, tones, and textures. After Sephora, Brandi started freelancing and doing makeup for local artists’ music videos, weddings, Independent movies, head shots for actors and fashion shows. Brandi loves applying makeup, because it allows her to create, and make others feel good while doing it.

1. How do you approach the “look” you’re going to give a client? Is there an initial consultation?

BRANDI:  Yes, there is an initial consultation either in person which is usually done for a bride to be. If I’m doing makeup for a photo shoot or video I will talk to the photographer or director to get their vision via phone or email. I’m usually told the theme or mood of the occasion, and then I go from there using my own creative expression. I stay within the guidelines that I’m given, but I like to add my own personality to my art as well.

2. Is there a standard when it comes to head shot make-up? Or make-up for auditions?

BRANDI:  The standard for head shot and audition makeup is to be as natural as possible. When you take your head shot you want it to look the way you look in person so the casting director will recognize you. When you enter the room to audition you want to look the way you look in your head shot for the same reason. They go hand in hand.

3. What are the key essentials a do-it-yourself-er would need to create the perfect look for head shots/auditioning?

BRANDI:  The key things you need to do make for your own head shots are an HD (High Definition) foundation that matches your skin; Natural lipstick or gloss (pinks & nudes); Soft blush that brings a pinch of color back to your face after your foundation application; Translucent setting powder to apply to your face after your done applying your makeup (the powder holds your makeup in place for the shoot); Mascara; A natural based  matte eye shadow (light brown, nude, pink) applied only to your eyelids; Soft pencil eyeliner (I prefer brown over black for a more natural look); Any basic brush set will get you started (foundation, blush, and eye shadow brushes are the most important). Things that also help is to clean, moisturize, and prime your face before you apply any makeup. Any primer that has oil control is best. You can find most of these products at any pharmacy in the makeup aisle or at Sephora. Also there are a host of Youtube tutorials to help you once you gather all of your supplies.

4. How cohesive should hair/fashion be with the make-up job?

BRANDI:  Your hair should be natural just like your makeup, and how you are on an average day in the city wearing it down in some pictures and up in others will showcase different features and give different looks for your head shots. Your clothing should be the same, nothing over the top, just relaxed and YOU. If you are going for more sophisticated roles, still pin up your hair in some and wear it down in others. Wear a nice blouse or dress shirt… whatever the role calls for, but remember to be natural in whatever you do.

5. Do you have any recommendations regarding make-up for men in head shots/auditions?

BRANDI:  My suggestion for men is to bring blotting papers to wipe the oil and sweat from their face during the shoot. Translucent powder does wonders for men as well. It just keeps the oil and shine under control. Wear your hair and facial hair according to the roles you are aiming for and be natural with your selections.

Contact Brandi at br_renee@yahoo.com OR 646-351-7832

$50 Make Up Application for Headshots

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