Auditioning for stage plays and auditioning for commercials are about as similar as teeing off with a driver and making a putt. And right now, I think my commercial audition skills might be even worse than my golf game.

I just finished a callback for a thirty-second commercial in which I was to play a football fan with a Boston accent. There were two characters with speaking lines in the commercial and they called us in three at a time. We rotated through the parts and sometimes did two takes, so I did the scene five or six times for a total of 2-3 minutes of on-camera time. In that short time span, I think I managed to make all of the following mistakes:

  • During the ad-lib before the lines started, I was in character but didn’t have a specific action in mind. As a result, I don’t think I did anything interesting or memorable.
  • When I delivered a line talking about the product, I don’t think I smiled. I might have come across as excited about the product, but not happy.
  • One one of the two takes when I had a line, I stumbled on a couple of words. They were small stumbles, but if you only have a couple dozen words to say, you probably ought to get them perfect.

I’m not quite sure how to improve my commercial auditioning skills. It’s a very challenging task. You often don’t get the lines until minutes before your slot, you generally have no opportunity to rehearse with the people you’re auditioning with, you never have the opportunity to rehearse with the people who are feeding you lines from off camera, and you rarely get feedback or a second chance.

Maybe one simply gets better with more experience. I hope so.

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