Q&A for Actors

Actors are the beating heart behind the driving force and ambition of this company. In 2018, Finnian was asked to help with an industry Q&A for actors about his advice for engaging with Casting Directors; below is a snapshot of the session:

How did you become a Casting Director?

I read History and Politics at university and got involved with the drama society whilst there. On graduating, I decided to pursue an acting career so went and trained at Drama Centre, which was a fantastic experience. After a couple of years of being a professional actor, I decided that it wasn’t for me, but I still wanted to stay in the business, so went to work as an agent for a couple of years. I then moved across to casting, which is what I’ve been doing for the last 5 years. Both experiences of having been an actor and agent have proved invaluable in the world of casting.

You have cast for big BBC TV Series such as ‘Holby City’ and ‘Doctors’. How should an actor go about getting an audition for a BBC TV series?

Put simply, I think you have to trust your agent that they’re doing everything they can to secure you work. It’s one of the most important professional relationships you will have, so it’s crucial that you nurture it and that generally means letting them get on with their job! Make sure your Spotlight CV is up-to-date, and always tell your agent if you’re planning a holiday or not available. Always research who you will be meeting in the room. It just shows that you are interested in who you’ll be working with and that you want the job.

When looking at an actor submission, what would make you want to call a particular actor in for a face to face audition?

Previous TV experience is always useful but not a deal breaker if your experience is limited. The most important aspect is whether I feel somebody is right for the role and that is usually based on their look, their experience, or if I’ve seen them in something before. That isn’t something that can necessarily be put into words – you just know it when you see it.

Do you look at actor showreels? If yes, what makes a good showreel?

Yes I do if your agent has suggested you for a role via Spotlight. For me, a good showreel is no longer than 2-3 minutes long and gets straight to the scenes. I prefer not having to sit through a montage. It’s the scenes I’m interested in as that’s where I can really ascertain what kind of actor you are. And that’s why it’s important you have an up-to-date reel which shows your most recent credits.

In Casting, what are some dos and don’ts for actors?

It’s pretty straightforward, although I’m always amazed how many actors fall into the same traps again and again. Never be late for an audition, as not only will it probably affect your performance but it will also disrupt the schedule for the casting director. If you can, always bring a copy of the sides with you and don’t use the excuse of “I only got the sides last night and haven’t had a chance to look at them” – it’s a bad start! Only contact a casting director when you have something to invite them to (which you think is really worth their while) and just generally be nice to everyone. You never know who you’re talking to!

Do you think social media is an important tool for actors to use these days?

Yes, it can be, but my advice would be to invest your time on being the best actor possible and not get too bogged down with social media. Honing your skills, keeping busy and absorbing as much TV and theatre as possible are more valuable in the long run. That’s just my opinion – but each to their own!

Do you only look at submissions directly from agents, or do you cast your net a bit wider?

That depends entirely on the project and whether we have the time, budget and resources to undertake a wider search. I’m always open to non-Spotlight suggestions if an actor fits the brief. But it really does depend on the project.

Finally, what advice would you give to actors trying to make it into TV?

Be prepared that it can take a long time to get that all important first TV job, but with patience and perseverance you’ve got just as good a chance as any other actor.