How many times have we seen a film or gone to a theater production and found ourselves saying, “Great performance, but they just didn’t get it,” “Wow, that was funny, but he/she missed it”? Well, what didn’t they get or what did they miss?
The concept or idea of the project is what the actor didn’t get.
It wasn’t because they were a bad actor. It was simply because the actor made the wrong choices within the TONE of the project. Think about it. A Steven Spielberg film is going to be very different than an Oliver Stone film which is going to be very different from a Gus Van Sant film. Can you imagine auditioning for a Spielberg film as if it were a Mel Brooks project?
Whether it’s a film, TV series, web series, or commercial, there is always a specific tone for the project.
We have all heard the old clichés. What are you fighting for? Just make a choice and live by it. Well how do you find the “right” choice? You find it through the client’s concept.
Here is an easy three-step proven process that I have used in all my projects to help find the right performance style and actor choices that deliver on my clients' concept or idea and proves clearly, there are no bad actors, just bad choices.
Step 1: What are they selling?
What is the product? Soft drink, cell phone service, burgers, computers, bank? Each type of business has a very specific client base but also a very specific image or service they are trying to “sell” or “highlight” to the masses.
You can look at it like this. How do you dress when you want to impress? Or when you’re headed out to a club? What about dinner with your parents? How do you present yourself to the people that mean the most to you?
The advertiser is doing the exact same thing with their product. They are looking for a performer with the exact same qualities as their product.
Step 2: How are they selling it?
How are they highlighting the product? What’s the story? This is the creative part! This is where the ad agency would write the script, create the characters, and decide on the final TONE for the project. This is where they decided how to sell their “style” or their product to the world.
The actor should be asking: What type of project is this? Is it a comedy, drama, horror? There are a myriad of styles and genres. So what style or genre are you auditioning for right now? This will help define the client’s concept, and in turn, help define actor choices.
Step 3: How do I as the performer fit into their concept?
What is the actor’s function in the script? How are you pushing forward the client’s concept, story, or idea through your audition or performance?
Is there dialogue? How are you highlighting the product through the dialogue?
Is there action? How are you highlighting the product through your actions?
Don’t “sell” the product, “sell” their concept!
Remember, once you have answered the three basic questions, you should have a very keen idea about what choices will work and which ones won’t based on the way the clients are selling their product.
When an actor understands and appreciates the client’s process for creating a project, they quickly see the importance of their function in the big picture of things. They realize it’s about the process and not about the actor. That at the end of the day, it’s about the most important individual on the set: he product!
Robert Jr began his career casting feature films primarily for Oliver Stone, Steven Spielberg, and Ron Howard, but after crossing paths with Steve Jobs,Robert Jr began extensively casting Apple’s high profile World Wide product launches including the first iMac, iBook, Power Mac G4, Mac OS X, and iPod campaigns and has gone on to cast 1000’s of commercials, film, and TV projects. His casting company Digital Dogs Casting is best known for their unique, award-winning campaigns and a flair for blending improv and witty dialogue with performance-driven spots.
Robert Jr recently released, "The Concept of Acting" an audiobook that delves into the complexities of performing for Film, TV, and commericals and is based on his award winning acting theory, TheConceptOfActing.com.