How to get TV advertising work
The trick is to just keep on applying and auditioning for those advertising jobs. One will come eventually.
I spent years in limbo not getting commercials. Every single one of them I got an audition for through my agent I didn’t get. Firstly I was thinking I was a bit nervous-looking going into the room (no doubt I was right), then I was thinking the technique wasn’t right, then, after a long long time of feeling that I was getting it right, I just thought I didn’t have the ‘look’ or even luck of getting those jobs. One week I auditioned three times for three different campaigns for the same casting agency, so they liked me, but no deal on all three. I resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t get one, but still obviously would show up, and just go in there to have fun, get the experience, and forget out it.
Then I got my first one in November 2013. I think the reason being it was a real acting job, not just showing up and looking right but actually having to think about it, rehearse/practice and hone it down. It was only a promo/online vid, but still it counted as I was off the mark. From there, the next one in March, then another, then another, and now I think I’m on my sixth, maybe seventh. So I believe the trick is to keep going, and once you get one, the floodlights might well open. Think about it; if you were casting would you go for the guy who’s done three ads before, or the other one who may well be good but doesn’t have the experience? So keep at the applications, do the work you need to do, and then leave it to them to decide.
Another factor is the experience of going to so many castings. Because I’ve been in that room so many times, I am very relaxed, and it’s then easy to establish a rapport with them very quickly. In fact the last ad I did, I asked the assistant director on it why they chose me as it always seems to be so random. He said it was because I was relaxed, at ease and seemed like I didn’t want it desperately, but was just happy to play around and have fun in the room. So bare that in mind too, although I do appreciate that it is hard to get your head around and to do. Going hand in hand with this, once you are out of the room, forget about it. Again I know, easier said than done (especially with those high paying ones), but just really try and blank it out an start thinking about the next thing you are doing. If you feel you did everything right, you were on time, relaxed and can’t think of anything to improve on, then put it out of your mind. If something was wrong, simply rectify it next time until you are happy. But if they are now deciding on who to choose it is out of your hands so let it go.
Don’t be exclusive on just the high paying, high profile commercial jobs, particularly if you are just starting out. Do as many promo vids, online ads and things like that that you can. Just because it was only on youtube doesn’t mean you can’t call it an ad or commercial, does it? So apply for and take anything you can get, as it will all count on building your credits list, showreel, and bank account, even in any minor way. A few weeks ago I was filming with Darren Clarke and Frankie Dettori on the world famous Belfry golf course. Yesterday I was stood in a field covered in mud in Walthamstow Marshes for eight hours. But both still count, and you can’t tell the difference in coverage and budget on the CV. So do what is available at the time.
Once you get the job, the aim will be now to do your best, and of course, get the next job. So be on time, make sure you’ve done your homework if needed, be friendly, try your best to remember everyone’s names on set and address them thusly, take direction well, and suggest ideas on what you could do, or try things out on the day if you feel you can play around and don’t have to just simply nail the take. Once the job’s done, send the invoice the next working day first thing – it simply shows professionalism. And, ahem, another touch of which I am particularly proud of, send chocolates to the people who cast you and a thank you note as well. They will invariably send you a thank you email or something, and of course will remember you next time and you will have a rapport established and/or solidified. You know what, in fact ignore that last bit. I’m the guy that sends chocolates, and I don’t want you guys stealing any of my thunder. I’m the one who should be cast in the next job…