Commercial auditions can have a lot of improvisation and action involved. Often, this can stump actors. An example is an audition I received that was a family on a roller coaster with minimal directions. So, how can I make it look and feel like I am on a roller coaster in my tiny taping room next to my closet? Here is an example of how to create an audition tape to show off your acting skills in a commercial with improvisation.
EXAMPLE: ROLLER COASTER FAMILY
You receive a script and storyboard of a family going up the climb of a roller coaster. It states "have fun with it." There are not any other specifics.
Read the script, storyboard, instructions and anything they sent out loud a minimum of THREE times. What are your actions? What is the name of the product? Look at their previous commercials online to get the tone.
How do you feel about roller coasters?
Ask yourself how you feel when you are walking up to a roller coaster you are about to ride. Get specific, when was the last time you rode a roller coaster? What was that roller coaster's name? Picture you walking up to it. Were you excited, or nervous? Close your eyes and imagine getting in line for the roller coaster, getting on the coaster, and now taking the ride. How do you feel? What was the emotional ride of taking that ride?
*Remember commercials are generally upbeat, so being extremely terrified unless it asked for it might not be the right fit. A company is selling something in a commercial. If you are terrified of roller coasters and you will have to be riding one in the actual commercial, you might want to share that with your agent before moving forward with submitting.
LET'S DO THIS!
Casting does not need to see you get on the roller coaster unless they asked for it, so let's get to it. How can you suggest that you are on a roller coaster without really being on one?
Take a chair or a stool and sit on the edge of it, upright. Why? Roller coasters do not usually allow slouching and you are generally seated in an upright position. Falling into a chair is too comfortable for the look of a roller coaster.
You are getting ready to go up the climb of the roller coaster. How do you feel? Are you anxious or timid as it starts to move upwards? Staying in your frame, you can tilt your head and body a bit to show you are going upward. Remember to watch your eye line for the camera and not eyeliner be out of frame.
Now you have reached the top and can see the drop! Oh wow! What do you see and how do you feel? You cannot stop this roller coaster you are now heading downhill fast. Do you usually put your hands up, hold on for dear life, or scream with exhilaration?
The roller coaster is now careening into a curve and woosh you are pulled over. Nothing needs to be over the top, but show the coaster is moving. Stay in frame and you do not need to be moving rapidly, but how you would in on an actual coaster with the force of it pushing you. Is it thrilling or overwhelming with what is coming next?
*Remember you are selling something here, this roller coaster overall is amazing.
The ride is starting to come to a stop. How do you feel? Are you relieved, exhilarated, pumped up, or ready to go again? You are with your family so you can show some interaction. Do you reach to their seat in front of you or beside you and say, "let's do it again?" Or, "that was so much fun!" This is also a great button to put on the end of your scene.
It is a world of make-believe as you sit in a room filming this, but let loose and give into it 100%. See the roller coaster, the big climb, you feel the wind in your hair on the drop, oh get ready there's a turn! If you are to have fun in the commercial, have fun!
*If you need help with your commercial auditions and improvisation, reach out to me. I have trained at The Groundlings, UCB, and Second City in Los Angeles and Chicago. Additionally, I continue to stay in improvisation classes locally in Atlanta and have over eight years of training. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by clicking here!