Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ask a Supermodel: A Walk Through a Casting

I walked into the studio where the casting for Scott Barnes' new coffee table book was and there was a shoot already going on.  The first thing I do is scan the room for the gatekeeper.  This is the person, normally a producer, that controls the flow of information and peoples' comings and goings.  Once I spot him or her, I'll go over and introduce myself. I'll say something like, "Hi, I'm Emily. Is this where the casting for Scott is?"  
 Once I'm connected to the gatekeeper, it's my job to follow their lead.  In this case, she was busy discussing business with another producer so I stood quietly and off to the side waiting for her to be ready to deal with me.  All around me were hair stylists, nail artists, wardrobe stylists, a model, assistants and other people in production.  It's not my job to connect with any of them.  We are all in the same room, yes, but this is not a party and I'm not the guest of honor.  So I keep my boundaries professional and continue to stand confident, with purpose. 
 The producer finishes and signals for Scott to come over to meet me.  She then looks at me and begins to explain the shoot and what they'll need.  This is my turn to listen and, if there are any questions, keep my answers short.  I still maintain a professional and friendly boundary. 
Once Scott joins us, I can now open up and show my personality, but just for that first impression.  Then I put it away and maintain a professional distance. I place all my attention on him.  He looks at my book.  Makes a few comments.  and... this next bit is big...  
When clients comment on your photos, it is not an invitation for you to have a conversation with them.  Unless they ask you directly, there is nothing to say.  They are talking about you not with you, no casting director or client wants to have a charming conversation about how you loved working with whichever photographer. Nope, don't care, not interested.  Oh, they're smiling and engaging with you?  They wish you'd stop talking. Let them comment away in peace. 
Scott, the client, finishes looking at the book 1/2 way through and hands it back. He's seen enough and goes quickly over what he wants to do with me, making the decision right then and there that he likes my look, is familiar with my work and wants me to be included in his new book. He then turns to the producer and makes comments about how much he loves my face, loves my look.  Please note: this also is not an invitation to comment or even say thank you.  It may feel strange but remember, clients are normally talking about you not with you.  
At this point Scott walks off.  No goodbye and it is not my job to say goodbye either.  This behavior is normal.  Don't take it personally if the clients at a casting just walk away or wave you off without so much as a goodbye or thank you. If you've ever had to connect with 30 people in the span of 2 hours while overseeing a shoot and making sure a model's makeup, hair, etc is perfect and be creative director, you'll understand the pressures that not only Scott but most clients are under during a casting session. 
After Scott walks away, my attention turns back to the producer.  I put my personality away completely and turn on my business face.  She asks if I'm available tomorrow.  I respond yes. She thanks me and I leave. Super easy. 
I email my agent to let him know how it went well and then I go on with my life. In this case, I drove to my friend Morgan's house to bring her a coffee and do my best to make her laugh after the week she's had.  
As long as you don't try to "win" anyone over you'll be fine.  It's all about your look and there isn't much you can do to change it.  No amount of charm is going to make your eyes round or almond shaped.  
More to come tomorrow as we go to set! 
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