How To Book A Commercial
Short answer: Beat out the competition. How? Right look. A certain indefinable quality they are looking for. Dress somewhat appropriately (no ripped jeans if you’re up for a young professional). Do something just a tiny bit original. I once booked a commercial where I was to walk a dog in a park. Most of the audition (on camera) was ad lib. I took a long chained purse, dragged it on the floor and kept gooing at my purse/dog. I am positive it was the purse/dog that booked that commercial.
The good news is that commercial agents are always looking for new faces. The even better news is that today you do not have to be beautiful or handsome to book most commercials. In fact the more “ordinary you are” the better. (Their euphemism is “real people.”)
With a few exceptions, the ad is about the product and they do not want the actors to be particularly memorable. So send in your most natural looking headshot (no glamour here, unless you are stunning). Read our articles on self-submission letters, envelopes, be sure the agent does commercials and do your mass mailing. Also follow up with a postcard.
SAG commercials pay well. Even SAG extras on commercials can make a nice income. I know people who make an average of $ 35,000 a year as extras on SAG commercials. And please do not think you are demeaning yourself, or selling out, if you do commercials. It’s all acting. And I cannot tell you how many casting people send out a call for a particular actor they saw in a commercial. So a commercial may lead to a sit-com audition. In fact, one casting director saw someone in a commercial, remembered the actor and is now tracking him down for some other job. A national commercial is a great step up the ladder, especially if you are the only person in the ad.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that booking a commercial is a shoo-in. I had a major agent who sent me out 67 times before I booked my first commercial. Yes, there were lots of “first refusals,” a lot of “holds,” and many “call backs” but 67 auditions before the first booking! Got to be a world record for rejection! But then can you imagine the delight in the middle of “Law & Order” of seeing yourself advertising Palmolive! So don’t knock commercials. They pay well and the competition is keen and yes they really use trained actors for the most part.
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