Friday, January 23, 2009

Photos and Audition Advice from Mary Lee Lear


Auditioning in Las Vegas


   “Casting directors have 2 minutes for each person, our first and probably only impression is from your photograph, followed by your resume” Casting Society of America Casting Director Mary Lee Lear told the Nevada SAG Conservatory on August 19, 1995.


   Mary Lee Lear, along with her husband John, owns Lear Studios in Las Vegas. She is also the owner of Lear Casting, the longest continuously operating casting company in Southern Nevada. She related that to get the audition you need quality professional photographs that show you, as you could easily appear, without outside help, professional make-up or hair design, within one hour or receiving a call for an audition. The photographs must show your eyes and also reveal any major facial trait or blemish.

   “Sometimes it is the blemish or unique aspects of your face that will get you called in for an audition.”

   Her preference is a glossy 8 by 10 that looks like you. Mary Lee Lear explains that most racks and files are set up for 8 by 10’s, so over or undersized photos can be a problem. Black and white prints show you the best and remain the industry standard, although an increasing number of people are using color in an attempt to cut through the clutter.

    She says a clean, neat and easy to read resume, using one of the standard formats of the industry, should be either printed on the back of your 8 by 10, or stapled to the back at all four corners and cut to size. Since it is not uncommon for the resume to be detached, your name and a contact number should be printed on the photograph as well as on your resume.

   Her advice is to use a contact service or number that will notify a pager or phone, and if possible to use your agents name and number. Home phone numbers should be avoided, since they can be traced through reverse directories and not everyone who gets or sees your resume, or pulls it from the trash, will be honest. For the same reason, never put an address on your photos or résumé’s unless your agents tells you to place their address. In most cases they will prefer to list their phone number.

   Glasses are optional, but should not be used in your headshot unless you “wear them all the time,” as they hide the eyes, which are what most casting directors look for first. In most cases, your eyes sell your photograph.

    As to how tight to crop your photo, that depends on current trends and what you are auditioning for. Tight headshots are classis because they show your eyes and face the best. Three quarter shots and photos taken outdoors are trends that come and go, and may or may not be fashionable when you read this.

The Audition.

   When you walk in for a reading you may know many of the people there “but do not socialize” and concentrate on the job at hand, doing your best possible audition.

   It is possible that the casting director may be sitting in the lobby observing you, or may have one of their employees observing you, and Lear says more than once someone has been eliminated for unprofessional attitude or for negative comments made in the lobby.

   “What ever you do tell the truth, on your resume and in the interview” advises Lear, “it’s a small industry and word gets around.” Never list background or extra work as speaking roles, lie about credits or claim you have done or can do something you haven’t.

    As for how to dress, Lear suggest wearing just the suggestion of the character, enough to assist you as an actor and to give a slight feeling to the audition piece for the casting director or readers. Never wear flashy clothing or jewelry that will detract from your performance. Avoid clothing with words on it, other than the small designer labels if you must wear that type of clothing. Always be the most relaxed and comfortable you can make yourself.

On Unions.

    On the subject of unions, Lear believes that actors would get paid next to nothing if it were not for union scale or minimum base pay. Union scale also makes it necessary for nonunion production to pay what wages they do, since the truth be known most actors would do what they do for nothing if it weren’t necessary to eat and have a roof over their heads.

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