Tips and Tricks

Below you will find some helpful information to expand your industry knowledge. Please email if you have any questions.

How to Self Tape

  1. First, read and review all instructions sent to you.
  2. Find a blank background to film in front of.
  3. Try to film with the highest quality device that you have. Additionally, make sure that you are in a quiet place.
  4. They frame for the video should be mid-waist to an inch above the top of your head. Basically a head shot.
  5. Wear a vibrant, solid color t-shirt while recording such as red, blue, green, yellow etc. No prints, logos or patterns.
  6. Have someone read with you for dialogue. This reader should be clear but not overpowering your performance. This person is not auditioning.
  7. Try your best to memorize your lines. You can hold a copy, but it’s not recommended.

Things NOT to do at a Casting

  1. Don’t chew gum.
  2. Bring your materials (sides, script, etc.) but do not look at them while auditing. If you need to read a line or two, that’s fine. Try your best to have all materials memorized.
  3. Eye-contact is professional. Don’t stare down the casting director while performing, but do be polite and make some eye-contact.
  4. Don’t let your hair cover your face.
  5. Don’t make excuses. Everyone makes mistakes. Just keep going.
  6. Don’t forget your headshot.
  7. Don’t be late.
  8. Don’t bring guests. Children under the age of 14 years old can have one parent. Anyone else is unnecessary.
  9. Don’t brag, gossip, coach or show off in the waiting area.

On-Set Need-to-Knows

Action: Begin the action or script

A.D.: Assistant Director.

AEA: Actors’ Equity Association often called simply “Equity.”

Audition: A tryout for a film or TV role, usually in front of a casting director, for which a reading is required.

Avail: A courtesy situation extended by an agent to a producer indicating that a performer is available to work a certain job. Avails have no legal or contractual status.

Art Director: Person who conceives and designs the sets.

Back To One: Taking it from the top of the same scene or moment of action you just did

Billing: The order of the names in the title of opening credits of a film or TV show

Blocking or Staging: The actual physical movements by actors in any scene.

Blue Screen: Shooting in a studio against a large blue or green backdrop which allows background to be superimposed later on the final stage

Booking: A firm commitment from a performer to do a specific job.

Breakdown: A detailed listing and description of roles available for a casting in a production.

Buyout: An offer of full payment in lieu of residuals, when the contract permits. No buyouts in perpetuity.

Callback: Any follow-up interview or audition.

Casting Director: The producer’s representative responsible for choosing performers for consideration by the producer.

Commission: Percentage of a performer’s earnings paid to agents for services rendered.

Credits: Performance experience listed in a resume, also opening names in a film or TV show.

Cue: Hand signal by the Stage Manager

Cut: Stop the action

Day Out of Days: The schedule containing the work days for all actor or a film project.

Day Player: A performer hired on a daily basis, rather than on a longer term contract.

Dealer Commercial: A national commercial produced and paid for by a national advertiser and then turned over to a local dealer to book air time, usually with the dealer’s tag added on.

Demo Tape: An audio or video that agents use for an audition purposes.

DGA: Directors Guild of America

Dialogue: The scripted words exchanged between performers

Director: The coordinator of all the artistic and technical aspects of any production

D.P (Director of Photography): Supervises all decisions regarding lighting, camera lenses, color and filters, camera angle set-ups, camera crew and film processing

Double: A performer who appears in place of another performer, i.e. as in a stunt

Downgrade: Reduction of a performer’s on-camera role from principal to extra

Equity: Actor’s Equity Association

Exclusively: Achieved by virtue of performing as a principal in a commercial. During the contractual period of payment the advertiser has exclusive rights to the performer’s work, likeness and image with regard to competitive products.

Executive Producer: Person(s) responsible for funding the production

Extra: Background talent used in non-principal roles.

Field Rep: Union staff member who ensures contractual compliances on sets

First A.D: First Assistant Director who is responsible for the running of the set. Gives instructions to crew and talent including calling for rehearsal, quite on the set, take five etc.

First Refusal: A non-contractual courtesy situation extended to the producers by agents on behalf of the performers, giving the producer the “right” to decline to employ the performer before the performer accepts a conflicting assignment

First Team: The production term for the principal actors on scene

Fixed Cycle: For commercials, an established 13-week period for which the advertiser pays a holding fee to retain the right to use the performer’s services, likeness and image in a previously produced advertisement

Forced Call: A call to work less than 12 hours after dismissal of the previous day. Also see Turnaround

Foreign Replay: A fee paid for the re-runs outside the U.S

4-A’s: Associated Actors and Artistes of America, umbrella organization for AFTRA, SAG and other performers Unions.

Franchised Agent: A talent agent approved by AFTRA or Sag to solicit and negotiate employment for their members.

Freelancing: Working through more than one franchised agent rather than signing exclusively with an agent. Also, working for multiple employers as a performer, distinguished from permanent employment at a radio/TV station or network.

Gaffer: In film, a crew member who moves set pieces or props

Golden Time: Contractually called the 16 Hour Rule Violation for Extra Performers, is overtime, after the 16th hour, paid in units of one full day per hour

Hand Model: A performer whose hands are used to double for others.

Hold (On Hold): A contractual obligation for a performer to be available for work

Holding Fee: Set payment by an advertiser to retain the right to use a performer’s services, image or likeness on an exclusive basis

IATSE: International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees

Improvise: Use your imagination to develop moments without scripted text

Industrial: Non-broadcast, often education, films or tapes

Lift: Process of taking a sequence from one commercial to create all or part of another commercial, sometimes called a “mechanical Lift”

Line Producer: The producer who is responsible for keeping the director on time and budget. The Line Producer is usually the most visible producer on set.

Liquidated Damages: Monetary penalties imposed on an employer when contract provisions are violated

Looping: An in-studio technique matching voice and picture.

Matching Actions: The requirement that the actor match the same physical movements in a scene from take to take, in order to preserve the visual continuity

Mark: Designated spot actor must stand for the camera shot

Meal Penalty: A set fee paid by the producer for failure to provide meals or meal breaks as specified by the contract.

Monologue: A solo performance by an actor

MOS (Motion Only Shot): Any shot without dialogue or sound.

NABET: National Association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians

Off-Camera (OC): Dialogue delivered without being on screen.

P.A.: Production Assistant

Paymaster: An independent talent payment service acting as the employer of record and signatory

Pick Up: An added take because of a problem with a shot

Pilot: The first show introducing the characters and situations for a potential series

Principal: A performer with lines or special business which advances the story line

Producer: Often called Line Producer, the person responsible for the day-to-day decision-making on a production

Props: Easily moved object used in the course of action

PSA: Public Service Announcement (needs approval of AFTRA/SAG)

Residual: The fee paid to a performer for rebroadcast of a commercial, film or TV program

Right to Work States: Those states which do not honor certain union provisions

Rolling: The verbal cue for the camera film and audiotape to start rolling

Scale: Minimum payment for services under Union contracts Scale + 10 – Minimum payment plus 10% to cover the agent’s commission, required in some jurisdictions for agents to receive commissions

Script Supervisor: The crew member assigned to record all changes or action as the production proceeds

Second A.D: There are often two or three on the set. They handle checking in with the talent, insuring proper paperwork is filed, distribute script revisions. Actors check in with the Second A.D upon arrival of the set

Session Fee: Payment for initial performances in a commercial

Sides: Pages or scenes from a script, used for auditions

Signatory: An employer who has agreed to produce under the terms of a Union contract

Slate: A small, chalkboard and clapper devise, used to mark and identify shots on film for editing; also, the process of verbal identification by a performer in a taped audition (e.g. “Slate Your Name”.)

Station 12: At SAG, the office responsible for clearing SAG members to work

Stand Ins: Extra players used to substitute for featured players, usually for purpose of setting lights

Stage Manager: The person who oversees the technical aspects of an in -studio production

Studio Teacher: Set teacher or tutor, hired to provide education to working young performers; also responsible for enforcing Child Labor Laws and minor’s provisions in the Union contracts

Stunt Coordinator: The person in charge of designing and supervising the performance of stunts and hazardous activities

Stunt Double: A specially trained performer who actually performs stunts in place of a principal performer

Taft-Hartley: A federal statute which allows 30 days after first employment before being required to join a union

Teleprompter: The brand name of a device which enables a broadcaster to read a script while looking into the lens.

Turnaround: the number of hours between dismissal one day and call time the next day.

Under 5 (U-5): In AFTRA contracts, a speaking role having 5 lines or less

Upgrade: Acknowledgement by a producer that a player hired as an extra has performed principal work, resulting in principal payment

Voice Over (VO): Off-camera dialogue

Wardrobe: The clothing a performer wears on camera

Wardrobe Allowance: A maintenance fee paid to on-camera talent for the use (and dry-cleaning)

Wardrobe Fitting: A paid session held prior to production to prepare a performer’s costumes

Wrap: Finishing a production