An Acting Coach’s 8 Tips for Booking Commercials

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If you know some basic tricks, you’ll be much more likely to nail that commercial audition! I teach commercial classes all of the time. There are many different types of commercials that I could teach you right now. Today, let’s concentrate on commercials that are pitches made directly to the audience. Ready to get to work? Here are eight quick tips for winning commercials.

1. Treat the camera like it’s a person.
Whenever you are speaking directly to a camera (or microphone), pretend that you are speaking to an actual person. Really imagine someone's face right there in the camera lens. Don’t just talk to “generic people.” Make it personal. Talk directly to one person. Pretend as though that person were a few feet away and be very intimate with them. Have an actual conversation.

2. Turn on your light; be positive and have lots of energy.
You need to have lots of energy for commercials. Always be positive. Even if you are doing a serious pitch, it should be inspiring, not depressing and down. Lack of energy and positive light in a commercial translates to boring or not liking the product.

I often make my students run around the room to get their blood pumping so their energy is really high. Don’t try to fake it or it will look forced. Physically pump up your energy. You should use the same amount of energy as you do when you project your power onstage. Commercials are the musical comedy of camera.

3. Make the product name sound special.
Always take a tiny beat before the product name and say it in an excited, special way.

4. Use your face.
Pretend like you are playing a game and the winner is the person who makes the most faces. I suggest that you practice your commercial in front of mirror to make sure that your face is working.

5. Make a face, then talk.
Commercial timing is actually basic comedic timing: make a face...then talk. Be quiet when you are making the face so that it is actually a clean beat. Then say the next phrase. Not only does this put the right clean timing in, but it is easier to remember your next line when only saying one phrase at a time. When you actually do this technique, it doesn’t look like you are taking those beats. It just puts a little pop in your performance that makes us love you. (Sometimes you can put that beat in it by just slightly shifting the angle of your face.)

6. Put a face or beat at the beginning and the end.
Why would you ever waste a split second in an audition? You should always win an audition before you ever open your mouth, so add a face or little beat before you start.

Likewise, until you die or they say, “Cut”—whichever comes first—continue playing and having fun using your face and energy. One of those extra faces at the end could win you that audition.

7. Have fun!
You have to have fun! If you’re having fun, your magic light comes on. That light is what they’re buying! Be silly or laugh and then slide into the commercial with that true joy twinkling in your eyes.

Every time I do a commercial class, I start by asking, “How do you know you did a good commercial audition?”

And the class answers, “Because you feel like a total idiot!”

In commercial class, I often have people do one extra take and tell them to just to a stupid version to make us laugh. Nine out of 10 times, this is (by far) the most real and wonderful version they do. If you feel stupid, you probably are doing a great job. If you feel safe, you probably look embarrassing.

8. Special tip for kids: Be fearless!
Commercial casting directors are looking for kids who are fearless. Be willing to do whatever you are asked and have lots of fun while doing it.

Now, go nail some commercials!

Like this advice? Check out more from our Backstage Experts!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Cathryn Hartt
Cathryn Hartt, founder of Hartt & Soul Acting Studio, is known to many as “the UN-Acting Coach.” She coaches all ages (children through adult) and all levels (from beginning through masters).
See full bio and articles here!

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