How to Harness the Power of Adverts to Enhance Your Acting Career
By Steph Cohen
If I asked you honestly what you thought about acting in adverts, what would you say? What are your preconceptions about ads? Perhaps you never think about it - it doesn’t register on your acting radar at all, you love drama, not ads. Perhaps you dismiss it as not ‘real’ acting.
Perhaps you’ve heard you can get paid a lot for ads but think only celebrities get the big jobs. Perhaps you look at certain ads, cringe and unconsciously write off acting in any ads at all. Where do these opinions come from? If you’ve never thought about ads - how come?
Do you pay attention to ads currently running on TV and the Internet?
Do you ever search for ads on Youtube like you would for film scenes or trailers?
If not, why not? Hundreds of adverts are shot in the UK and Europe every year. We all know it can be a tough gig to land that coveted TV
or film role. So whilst we hustle in that direction and hone our skills, we’re missing a big trick if we’re not also paying attention to the world of ads. Ignoring the opportunities adverts offer could mean you’re leaving experience and money on the table and losing out on building working relationships with filmmakers. Did you know that most ad directors are actually busy film and TV directors by day? They get paid handsomely for ads and often have a good deal of creative input in the way the ad looks and feels but like actors, their passion really lies in longer format storytelling. Being cast in an advert could mean you are working with some of the biggest names in the industry. The very first ad I shot saw me acting alongside Martin Freeman and being directed by the man who shoots the super cool intro sequences for all the Bond movies. Not bad going right? Big brands invest in hiring the best producers, directors and teams to make an advert as watchable and desirable as possible. Ads with a big budget can even feel like a mini-movie shoot, with stunts, special effects and exotic locations.
As for worrying about appearing in an ad you really don’t want to be in - don’t sweat it! You don’t have to say yes to every audition just because you’re an actor. Yes, we all want to work and earn a living from what we love, but if you can’t morally endorse a brand or you feel like the ad is way out of line with how you want to present yourself professionally, then you are well within your rights to respectfully decline that particular casting call and move on. Here’s what George Clooney has to say about acting in adverts. He’s been the star of the Nespresso ads for years.
'You want to have a product you are proud of and not embarrassed by.' 'You don't want to do ones that aren't classy. That's the truth. That's the secret to it.'
And believe me, there are plenty of classy and fun ads being made out there.
Here are a few to get you thinking.
Take note of just how many people you’re seeing, their diversity, and the different skills needed from the performers and the quality of the ad itself.
This Girl Can - UK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZoXyIxqFRc&feature=youtu.be
Dirty Dancing Money Supermarket - UK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PgTjhx1VLw
Debenhams Christmas Ad 2017 - UK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyNhzFYP3ts
McVities Biscuits Ad 2014 - UK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxXZ_uEVr9c
But is performing in ads really ‘acting’? You bet your ass it is. It’s weird at first, for sure, but when you’re on set and the first AD shouts ‘Action’ you better be able to live truthfully under the imaginary circumstances or - you’ll get cut. Simple as that. And if you’re a lead - they ain’t gonna be happy. You have to be professional, prepared and on the ball from the moment you get out of bed in the morning to the moment your wrapped and travelling home. And that’s if you’ve get the job. The auditioning process can be a bit of a shocker if you’re only used to prepping and performing dramatic scenes. One of the biggest reasons I love Meisner so much is because it’s the only technique I’ve ever learned that truly eliminates self-consciousness. But stepping into the advert audition room, I was suddenly faced with everything I’d hated and shrunk from in my years of pre-Meisner drama classes. Suddenly, I had to MIME. I had to ‘pretend’ all sorts of things were there when they weren’t, I had to be silly, make things up with no good reason, interact with fake smiles and surface chat in group auditions with over-the-top o
r nervous co-actors, behave like I cared about toothpaste or pepper or noodles. And of course, immediately - I was self-conscious and stuck. After analysing each audition I came out of - I quickly found patterns in the audition process itself and ways to prepare (even when I didn’t know what I was going to have to do). I came back to my technique and harnessed my Meisner training to put me in the top 2 of most of the auditions I attended. Since then I’ve been cast in commercials for Vodafone, Activia, BP, Photobox, Kia and more. I’ve worked with film directors big and small and learnt a lot along the way.
If you’d like to learn how you can harness the Meisner technique to help you stand out from the crowd in ad auditions, what to expect during the recall process, how to prepare for being on set and much more click here to find out more about the upcoming workshop on April 25th, 2018, led by Steph. Contact us to book your place: firstname.lastname@example.org or book here: https://app.punchpass.com/org/4211/passes/35388