Getting Ahead In Advertising – Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist is one of England’s select group of North East actors. He trained at the Rose Bruford college of speech and drama and for the last twelve years has been working consistently within the industry, most notably on television in programs such as Spender, Prince of Hearts, Catherine Cookson’s The Gambling Man, Badger, Place of The Dead and BBC Three’s flagship series Breezeblock. His work in the theatre includes West End appearances in Elton John’s Glasses and performances in premiere venues around the country.

Dave’s numerous advertising jobs include flogging Ford Escorts, telly licences, Foxs biscuits, McDonalds and doing a spot of twirling around in a pink dress singing “I’m Every Woman” for Supernoodles.

Here he writes for you about advert auditions and how to beat them.

Getting Ahead In Advertising

The first call will be from your agent, usually no more than 48 hours before the audition. He will give you a brief outline of the ad, as well as the crucial details of Where, When, What time and Who for. He should also tell you when the makers are filming the ad to ensure that you are available.

Having received a brief synopsis to let you know whether the ad is, for example, comedic or straight you need to decide how you are going to dress. It is probably best to dress in such a way as to give the casting director a reason to see you as what they are looking for. So if the ad is set in an office it’s wise to at least wear a smart shirt. Read the brief carefully and beware! A mate once went to a casting dressed in a hard hat and donkey jacket because he had been told the part was for a miner…Wrong! It was for a minor.

Check and double check your information.

Sometimes the brief will imply a style for the ad, usually by relating it to the latest big movie. It might say The Matrix-esque, for example. It’s then up to you to interpret what’s required.

Try to get to the casting at least ten minutes early. You will be given an outline of the ad and forms to fill in. The forms will ask you to describe the colour of your hair and eyes and give your measurements – shoe, waist, inside leg, height, hat size, collar size and so on. You will also have to make a note of your and your agent’s address and telephone number and provide a list of any other ads you have been in over the last three years. They ask for this last bit of information to make sure that the products you have promoted in the past won’t clash with the product they will be pushing this time round.

On the back of the form will be a series of disclaimers asking you to give your permission for the ad and your image to be used in cinemas, the internet or at point of sale (this means they’ll turn you into a large cardboard cut out and prop you up in a supermarket somewhere!)

To complete the paperwork a Polaroid shot will be taken of you and clipped to the top of your forms.

Now is the time to read that outline of the ad you were given. There may be a few lines to learn, but you can always paraphrase or take the sheet in with you and read from that.

Inside the casting room itself the amount of people can vary greatly. On occasions there may be only the casting director’s assistant plus a camera operator. At other times there may be up to eight people including the clients whose product you will be representing and the agency creative whose idea the ad was.

At all auditions you will begin by giving your name and the name of your agent to camera as well as showing your profiles (both sides of your head.) After this the director or casting director will tell you what they want to see from you. A lot of the time you will be in pairs and a short scene will be improvised, the director may ask you to swap roles or play the scene in a different way. This is to show him that on the day of the shoot you could react well to notes. It is rare to be in the casting room for more than five minutes.

The most important piece of advice I can give you here is to remember to always be yourself. It’s what makes you unique and that’s what makes you castable!

Once the casting is complete you will usually be informed by your agent within forty eight hours whether you are to be seen again at a RECALL. Don’t expect to hear from anyone if you haven’t got a recall – you’re never told these things.

At the original casting thirty to fifty actors may have been seen. For the recall this number will have been reduced to just eight or so. If you are one of these eight you are suitable for the part and whether you get the job or not will come down to fine and sometimes insignificant details.

The recall is basically the same as the original casting except you may be asked to wear a costume. You won’t have to fill out any more forms and another good thing is that whether you get the job or not you will be paid a forty pound fee for your inconvenience.

Remember, if you get the job then that’s great but don’t beat yourself up over it if you don’t. After all, there’s always the next audition…

Dave Nellist