SECRETS FROM THE CASTING COUCH
Camera Strategies for Actors from a Casting Director
Methuen Drama: 2009: http://www.methuendrama.com/
ISBN: 9 781408 113271
(A link to the book on Amazon is below).
Every actor who want to work on screen needs to read this.
Nancy Bishop’s robust book is so full of good advice that it’s hard to know where to start. Written in a large number of very short chapters every page is crammed with useful, and easily accessible, tips.
For many actors auditioning for a screen role is extremely stressful – and Bishop is up front about the toughness of the competition; yet she is keen to let the interested actor know two things. First of all, she wants them to know that the casting director is on their side (after all, if she doesn’t get actors cast, she’s out of her job); secondly she posits an intriguing equation: ‘Actors are afraid of casting directors. Casting directors are afraid of actors.’ In other words, for different reasons, everyone is under pressure; best make that stress work for you.
This handy guide through the screen auditioning process seems to cover everything any actor could want to know – how to handle scripts, whether to learn lines or not, what to wear, who’s going to be there, what the process is, how to communicate with casting directors, even whether to sleep with a casting director or not. No question is deemed too obvious, nor dismissed as unimportant.
She pays a lot of attention to the importance of a character objective when auditioning. But alongside this points out how to gather information from the page number of the ‘side’ you’ve been given. Her analysis of headshots for photographs is marvellous – including different standards for US and UK. A modern trend is for ‘self-auditioning’ where the actor creates their own ‘test’; and cites the most successful example of Elijah Wood and Lord of the Rings. She has advice on how to put the tape together.
The final section is given over to a number of exercises that will enable actors to practise the all-important skills. A modest home-movie camera is vital.
All advice is simple, straightforward, practical, good humoured and above all honest. Bishop knows what she’s talking about – she’s been involved in casting for nearly sixty major projects. Actors, young and old, wanting to break into films need to ask themselves Can I afford not to have this book? She does, incidentally, reveal THE secret of the casting couch . . . but I’m not going to.
Here’s the Amazon link: