Life From Behind the Lens….Commercial Castings from the Camera Man’s Point of View!
I am so excited about today’s post! You see, I have always wondered what it’s like for the people holding the commercial castings. The ones that get to watch us, in all our Fiery Hawk glory.
We really are asked to do some horrifically embarrassing things, in castings. On Tuesday, within 2 minutes of saying hello, I had to pretend to make out with a man in bed. But standing up, with no man to make out with. I just went for it, but I couldn’t help but wonder: what was going through the clients’ minds at this precise moment?!
Step forward Will Nash, who I met on a casting for a job with Benedict Cumberbatch. Sadly I didn’t get the job. Among other things, like how much money a car advert in China probably pays, Benedict is on ‘my list’ of ‘men I’m allowed to sleep with if I meet’ because obviously he’d find me irresistable and sack off his pregnant fiance.*
*I don’t mean this, I would never be unsisterly, I do nurse a crush though.
I met up with Will…
…To ask: what’s it like to film us models doing humiliating things? Are you professional and calm and respectful, like we all hope you are – or are you crying tears of silent laughter and selling the videos on some kind of model humiliation black-market?
And what should us models do to stand out and get a job?!
R: Will! Hello! I met you on the Benedict casting. How did I do?!
W: Well you made it to the top of my list! I think you were chatty and we were all interested to hear about your blog. We were reading it as you left the room.
R: There’s a list?!
W: Well yes – us camera men compile the folders to send to the client. Anyone we like tends to go towards the top, as you’re less likely to get lost at the start than in the middle.
R: Noted! So we should always acknowledge you guys? Cos you’re often sat, hunched over, in a dark corner.
W: Definitely. We do have some power in the casting! Remember we have big egos, us camera men.
R: In the casting we met on, we didn’t have to do any acting – just talk about why we love London and what we like to do in our spare time. Who got it right, and who got it wrong?
W: Anyone who, like you, chatted about something different came across well. A lot of people just talked about the photoshoots they’d been doing, even though they’d been expressly told not to mention work. And anyone who said their interested were ‘acting’ or ‘modelling’ didn’t get the point, which was to give a picture of yourself as a person and stand out.
R: So in terms of standing out – what about clothes? I’m always told to wear a model uniform of black top and skinny jeans…
W: Every model wears a black top and skinny jeans! I reckon it’s better to wear some colour as you’ll immediately stand out. [ARE YOU READING THIS IGOR????? – R]
A lot of models can look a bit scruffy, too…In fact, quite a few seem hungover at times. That’s a definite no-no.
R: Bearing in mind that all we have to do for our job is be clean and on time, that’s ridiculous!
OK so I want more dirt, and more advice.
Actors VS Models. Who wins?!
W: Well you both lose. The actors are better at delivering the lines, but the clients want them to look like a model. And models look great but few can act.
R: Oh! That’s mean! Oh go on who wins?
W: Actors I guess. You get a good actor who looks great and it’s gold dust – they’ll be part of a small pool of people who book lots of the jobs.
R: Booooo! I’m not proud, but I always try and psyche the actors out in the waiting room. I put on my heels and fluff up my hair and put some lippie on so I look good.
It’s only using what I’ve got, cos I know that, when it comes to the casting, they can probably say “My dress is ten years old, but it looks brand new, because I wash with *FAB* colour care!” a whole lot better than me…
W: Yeah, and actors will pysche the models out in the actual casting. They can turn the acting up a notch and leave the model behind, looking a bit lost and helpless.
R: So what can we do in that situation?
W: I guess…improvise. Learn to improvise, maybe even go to acting classes. Practice saying things that sound cheesy out loud when you’re at home. You know the scene in Wayne’s World? The product placement one?
R: I know it well!
W: Walk around your house, pretending to do this scene. Making your cup of tea, cooking – sell everything to the imaginary camera, until it becomes natural.
R: Great tip there. Any others?
W: Come early, but don’t be first. The first two actors are the guinea pigs for the casting, figuring out who should do what and how it should be filmed. They’re generally out. People towards the end of the day will just be faced with a load of bored and antsy people who want to get home. So 11am or 2pm (after lunch) would be your best spots.
R: These are such useful tips I don’t want to share them with other models! Anything we do that really annoys you?
W: Yes! It’s when you do your ident. We’ll get you into focus on screen, and then, when the client asks your name, you all lean on one hip and you’re out of shot. That’s a bugbear.
R: You know what? I have my own bugbear. When I walk into a room of clients, say hello, and they don’t look up let alone reply.
W: It’s hard for me too! I will usually chat to the model in that scenario. I find it really rude – no one’s too busy to say hello – it’s just egos.
R: Right! The juicy stuff! I’ve had to do some horrific things over the years in castings. Stroking an imaginary unicorn, pretending to be rained on, snowed on, sleeted on then sunned on whilst wearing a flesh coloured body stocking. I’ve had to kiss hideous, smug men and I’ve had to dance. So very many times have I had to dance.
In a tiny, sweaty room that looks like this…
…When we’re awkwardly dancing, generally to NO MUSIC, what is going through your mind? Are you all laughing at us?
W: To be honest, it might be funny the first few times, but it gets old pretty quickly. the best actors and models just get on with it and get out. I will laugh along if it’s meant to be funny, but otherwise everyone just starts to meld into one, anyway!
R: OK that actually gives me comfort! I’m dying to know – what’s your biggest casting horror story?!
W: Hmmm So many! One really, really stands out. There was this casting brief for a cougar-type character. She had to wave at this younger guy. In the advert, it turns out that he’s waving to his mates, and it ends in her looking embarrassed.
So we had this actress in, wearing a halterneck dress, and she’s waving. And a boob falls out of her dress! Either she noticed it or pretended not to notice, and carried on waving.
The director said “Er. Erm. Your dress. Your…Breast.”
She carries on waving and, perhaps misunderstanding his instruction, casually reveals the other breast.
W: The director actually wanted to book her – I mean, how confident can you get – but she had the wrong look. That’s definitely one that stands out in my head.
R: For all the wrong (or right? The client loved her!) reasons! Thank you so much, Will. That’s armed me and my model readers a lot of useful information for commercial castings.
And I shall dance with abandon at the next casting!