December 11, 2018

How to Book a TV Commercial


Commercial Season 2019 is around the corner and, same as every year, the city of Cape Town will be swamped with talented models and actors, new-faces and old-hands, locals and internationals. If you’re a beginner in the industry, read on for some advice from a seasoned expert, Jana Reinermann, on how to book a TV commercial.

Everyone is looking to book that “one big” gig that makes up for all the jobs they haven’t managed to book in the past, and all the hours spent in casting studio waiting rooms instead of enjoying Cape Town’s scenery.

Those who get shortlisted or book jobs will be called “lucky”, while those who don’t will hear that it “just wasn’t their season”.

However, there always seems to be that one talent that gets booked on everything even when they don’t match the brief for what the client was originally looking for. Are you wondering how they do it? Can you possibly be good at castings all the time?

Having worked in the industry for over a decade on both sides of the camera I have come to discover one big secret:
Win or lose, casting all comes down to simple behavioural psychology!

As a rule of thumb, especially for commercial castings, the talent will be chosen 60% based on their looks and being the right physical type, 20% on talent & skills and 20% on their personality.

Depending on the size of a production, the casting director will see between 50-200 talent per role, per day. However, the client often doesn’t have more than 30-minutes to an hour to review all the casting tapes. As a result, talent that doesn’t immediately stand out immediately won’t be thoroughly viewed or skipped entirely. At the end of the day, a casting is all about creating a great first impression.

Can the client connect with the person they are watching on screen or not?

Consciously or unconsciously, there is one main thing that successful talent achieve in all of their castings:
They push the right emotional buttons to win over the client.

These four buttons consist of:

  • FUN
  • TRUST
  • RESPECT
  • INTEREST

But how do these emotions trigger the client to respond positively towards the talent?

FUN
If a talent succeeds in making a client feel uplifted, smile, or even laugh, this will go a long way. The client will immediately link a positive emotion to the whole scenario and everyone included in it, especially the person who caused it.

TRUST
A basic human need when we connect with other people is trust. And the easiest way for a talent to build trust in a casting situation is by revealing vulnerability. This can be done by saying something that most people can relate to, like sharing a brief funny or embarrassing anecdote about life. It humanizes talent that was until then just a number on the screen.

RESPECT
This is where most talents go wrong. They immediately try to create respect by talking about their recent jobs or achievements. Sure, this can build respect but if the client doesn’t feel “at ease” (fun) and trust hasn’t been built, it can often come across as bragging or arrogance. When executed correctly, respect is an important emotion that will get the talent on eye-to-eye level with everyone who is watching.

INTEREST
Showing genuine interest in another person will make the individual feel important and open to building an emotional connection.

Talent who can overcome the “interview” situation and create a conversation encourage a personal connection. Throwing a simple (rhetorical) question back at the camera triggers the viewer’s response system and engages them on a much deeper level. These four emotions build the base of great first impressions and aren’t just used in casting situations but in everyday human interactions. Which proves that beside all its glam and sometimes superficiality, the root of the entertainment industry still lays in fulfilling basic human needs.

About the author:
Jana Reinermann is an international Actress with representation in SA (MoonyeenLee Associtates in JHB & Ice Artices in CT) the UK (SHMGMT) and Germany (B.Neuffer )

As well as a Freelance (TVC) Line Producer (as Jana Ehrpunkt) with the IPO, and an occasional Casting Director for Cape Town’s Scout’s Honor Casting Studio.

If you’d like to learn much more about “How to book Television Commercials”, visit Jana’s online workshop and get a 10% discount using Callsheet’s code: CALLSHEET2018.