Hi everyone! So, over the past couple months, I've had a commercial running for Discover Card. Not only is it running, but it is airing nationally..NATIONALLY! Whew Chile!!!
I thought it would be a good time to share my journey with commercials thus far, my process of booking this commercial, and what's next! Hopefully you will be able to take away something from this post, even if it's a little something, that can be applied to the progression of your own career.
BEGINNING MY COMMERCIAL JOURNEY
I did my first commercial at about 7 years old, but after a couple local and regional jobs, I stopped and didn't start auditioning for commercials again until I moved to New York City. But even in New York, I rarely auditioned for commercials because I was represented theatrically, not commercially. Once relocating to LA, I knew I wanted to jump back into the commercial market, so thankfully I was able to secure a meeting with a wonderful and reputable agency here in town. It's important to note that often times an office will have several agents in one department. Meaning, a commercial department may have 3-4 agents. Not always the case, but if it is, all of the agents within that department have to be on the same page with bringing you on. You are only offered a contract if everyone is on board with signing you. So, treat every meeting with the the same enthusiasm and respect, keeping in mind that everyone you meet with plays a huge part in whether or not you will be offered a contract. In my case, I met with one of the agents first and was then called in to meet the rest of the team on a different day. Thankfully, all went well and we began our contractual agent/talent relationship journey. Also note, if an agency meeting does not go as well as you planned, that's ok too! It just means that particular agency isn't the home for you at that time and there's a better one out there that is.
The second part of this section is about what to do once you have commercial representation. Before you can even be considered for an audition, let alone a job, you have to get headshots. For commercials, it would be beneficial to have at least 2-3 distinctively different looks. I think the more the better. Once you have those, there are 3 sites you have to be on: Actors Access, LA Casting & Casting Frontier. This is the only way your reps can submit you for commercial jobs and although LA Casting wants practically your whole liver and spleen per picture.. its like $25 for the first picture and $15 for pictures after that, per upload. So, if you forget to upload one, that picture you forgot to upload with the rest, because you were running late to your bartending shift or stopped to take out the bread for your avocado toast, is $25 to upload, not $15. Nevertheless, these sites are a must. Just give them the money. I know it hurts to do it, I really do. I upload pictures weekly to Facebook and Instagram for free so I don't understand why I have to pay $55 to upload 3 high quality selfies ie headshots. Whatever way you slice it, these uploads are a necessary investment, so keep the receipt, deduct that sucker from your income taxes and keep it moving.
An appointment came in for a role on a new Discover Card Commercial and I was as excited about it as I always am when an audition comes in. There was another actress in the room with me during my audition, which was fine. Except for the fact that I thought I bombed and did a terrible audition. So terrible that once we were finally out of the room, I apologized to the other actress about how bad I thought I did and told her I hoped I didn't hurt her chances of getting the role....
To my delightful surprise, I was notified about a week later that I got a callback. Which means the casting director wants to see you in the room again and this time the director, along with other creatives on the commercial, will be there too. A day later I got a call saying I was "on avail". What the what?! What dat mean?! I immediately googled "what does on avail mean?" about 5 times to get clarity. Also in an attempt to calm my nerves and assure me that "on avail" means I can relax and celebrate because I got the part . No ma'am. It does not. That is not what it means.
On avail means you are not secured for the role yet, but they like you and you are really close. You could be the only one on avail and the powers that be are just waiting on the final confirmation to officially book you, so they hold you "on avail" so that you hold your availability open for the job if you are booked. There may also be other actors who are on avail with you, for the same role. With that, my anxiety heightened, but I soon made peace with the reality that if the role is meant to be mine, then it will be. Which is in fact how all actors should view job opportunities. What's yours is yours and thats the bottom line. So, keep it moving.
About a day or 2 later I got the official call that I booked. Wowhoo! From there you begin to get emails with important contact and location information, dates and times you'll need to keep clear for wardrobe fitting, hair and make up and of course the shoot date. Exciting! Now that the commercial is airing, it is amazing to see how creative advertising, marketing and production companies are. A director has to have such clear vision and focus on set working with so many different creatives at once while staying on top of the schedule and it is just so interesting for me to watch. I feel thankful to be able to see that all play out behind the scenes. OKAY Y'ALL, HERE SHE IS!:
WHAT DOES A NATIONAL COMMERCIAL MEAN FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM?
Most actors, managers and agents highly covet a National Commercial booking, and rightfully so. These jobs can produce a high yielding pay out that makes all the hard work and past rejections worth every second. But the reality is, you never know just how much you will gross. You may not get paid at all. Just because you film a job, an ad agency and or the client (the brand) can always chose to scrap the spot all together. In that case you just take the money you made from filming and be thankful for that. And even when your commercial does air, theres no clear answer of how much you will gross. I've heard stories of 0-$10,000 and then others who made $70,000, and upward. It all depends on the terms of your contract, how many times it airs and on how many networks. It's best to not depend on residual money at all and just focus on what you can control and that is doing your best at each audition and booking. Thats your job and that's all you can control. If you're booking, you can rest assure that you probably won't be getting dropped from your agency any time soon. And even if you haven't booked yet, but you're getting some callbacks and "on avails", you're most definitely on the right track, and your bookings are right around the corner! It's a process and your reps know that. They will be patient with you, so be patient with yourself. And, keep it movingggggg :)
This spring I booked another National Commercial! Im not sure when this one will air but I'm keeping my eye out for it. I was on vacation most of May, but once I came back to LA, auditions started coming in steadily and then slowed down again. It's all unpredictable. Within that time I've had about 4 auditions and 2 callbacks. Summer is generally a slow time and even more unpredictable than other seasons, but thankfully things will pick back up in a few weeks. ]
I hope this was informative and helpful for at least 1 of you and if you have any follow up questions or even tips to share with me, feel free to send them my way!
Carpe Diem Xo