It’s fall, and that means there’s a lot of talk about watching TV and preparing yourself for any audition you might get for the many, many shows out there. Awesome. TV is great because there’s just so much of it always going on that your opportunities may come more quickly there. TV is trackable, somewhat predictable, and its casting people are more easily accessible (often through affordable and plentiful workshops).
Now, how specifically are you targeting your research? You know me. I’m all about specificity in knowing your type, targeting your buyers, and then nailing your read once you finally get into that room you’ve strategized entering.
Unless you’ve tested on pilots as a series regular before, had your share of top-of-show guest-stars, or are so regularly booking guest-stars that you will certainly be on short lists at networks next pilot season, you need to be watching shows with an eye toward the co-stars. Not the leads. Not the meaty recurring or major guests. Yeah, yeah, they’re fun to watch. You see where you could totally do that guy’s job and be that character, if they had just gone less “namey,” and it’s not a bad idea to look into all of that too (it’s all research), but assuming you’re looking at turning a run of co-stars into that eventual series lead booking, let’s start there: co-star land.
As you watch each of the new shows — and pay attention to what Nikki Finke is saying about ’em all, as you can get a very good sense of which shows will stay on the air more than a week or two, both through her column and through the many sources I’ve listed before (see Hedging Your TV Season Bets for a ton of resources) — start writing down observations about the co-stars. Better yet, have a place to write those notes down while IMDb-Pro is open on your computer, so that you can check out these actors who are booking these roles. Who reps ’em? What else have they done? Are they you, two years from now? Or more like five?
When you’re looking at a show’s credits (either on the TV screen or at a site like IMDb-Pro or CastingAbout, or by using an app like Actor Genie), don’t just check out the casting director’s name. Make note of her associates and assistants. Set up Google Alerts on all of ’em for your targeted shows. When there’s a show your type is a slamdunk to book, these folks are your buyers and you need to show up when they’re speaking on a panel, read up when they’re interviewed in the press, track what they’ve worked on before, and study how they populate their files. Check out the showrunners in the same way. Especially on newer shows you may not truly feel a sense for, yet, in terms of tone, the showrunners’ previous shows can often get you in the ballpark. Heck, on shows that are just at the pilot stage (should you be so lucky as to learn about ’em before they’re picked up as series — psst, CastingAbout is your best friend, here), this kind of research can even lead to information on who will be doing the casting for the series, as folks are loyal, generally.
Spend some quality time with TiVo, Hulu, TVShack.cc, and Surf the Channel. Watch everything. Troll sides at Showfax to get very clear on the format of the show’s sides and how those one-liners will be auditioned. Practice creating choices with one or two lines without suffering from “one line fever,” wherein you attempt to make, “Can I get you anything else, sir?” into Shakespeare.
Grab entire scripts at ScreenplayOnline if at all possible. Keep an eye on Deadline Hollywood Daily, Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Production Weekly, The Futon Critic, CastingAbout, IMDb-Pro, and Actor Genie. Get thee to the events put on by the Paley Center and SAG Foundation!
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a lot of work, but at some point, your competition will feel that it’s a lot of work too… and stop. As long as you feel it but keep going, you’ve got the edge.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001244.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.