This is how the commercial process works:

A brand will approach or audition various commercial production agencies about what they need to sell and wish to portray. The agency will then outline what the commercial will be and how it will look and feel. When both sides are happy, the commercial agency will put together a creative team to make the advertisement. At this point, the casting process will begin. This is when a casting director will be brought on board.

How does the casting process develop? Let's take a look.

The Casting Director

Finding Your Casting Director

The ad agency will hire a casting director during the pre-production process and will entrust them with the job of finding the talents they require for their commercial. The first thing a casting director will need to do is gather together as much information as possible about who the characters are. The more detailed this information is, the more smoothly the casting process will run.

Discuss Vision With Key People

To do this effectively, the casting director will discuss every element of the commercial with the main parties, which will include the director and his creative team, the ad agency and the client. They will analyse all of the elements that will make the ad eye-catching and memorable and figure out exactly what they need to search for to make the ad they want to make.

Understand The Character

The character description will be a mixture of physical and character attributes. It will need to be clear what age and gender the character is (or appears), what they will be wearing and how they will look, sound and behave.

Understand All The Elements

It is essential that the casting director has a total understanding of what will be required. If the character needs to flick their hair or raise an eyebrow to camera, then these things will have to be performed during the audition.

Include Detailed Character Information

When all of this information is gathered, the casting director will send out a breakdown of what they are looking for to agents and managers and/or advertise the role online. The agencies will go through their database of actors and find people who fit the brief.

It'st About More Than Physical Attributes

It's important to understand that physical attributes are not the only determiner when it comes to casting – it only filters out the actors you won't require. A good breakdown will include detailed information about the character: things like their attitude, energy, charisma and desired screen-presence.

The First Audition

Reviewing Applications

The casting director and their team will then sift through all of the headshots they are sent to determine who to invite to the first audition. The auditions will be tightly scheduled so that all of the potential actors can be accessed over as short a period of time as possible.

Series of Auditions

The casting director and their team will then sift through all of the headshots they are sent to determine who to invite to the first audition. The auditions will be tightly scheduled so that all of the potential actors can be accessed over as short a period of time as possible.

Audition Day

On the day of the auditions, the director of the commercial will be present to assess each of the candidates for the role. The casting director may be present too, but the goal of the first audition is mainly to filter out the actors who are wrong for the role rather than necessarily finding the actor who is right. Though, of course, finding Mr or Mrs Right can be a happy accident at this stage (and this person will still only be on a shortlist for the client to choose from no matter how well the audition goes).

Taping The Auditions

The auditions will be taped. The cameras will be arranged as closely as possible to the way the finished commercial should look, as determined by the director and the agency's creative team. It helps the agency to test actors in a scenario closely resembling how the finished ad will appear rather than testing actors in a scenario which isn't relevant for the commercial.

The Actors

The actors or models will need to be highly prepared for the audition, as the opportunity to showcase their skills will be brief. This means dressing in character and understanding the character description in the breakdown.

Medium-Specific Performances

Acting in a commercial will require subtleties and nuances and the casting director will ask for various line readings or performances to see who has what it takes. Sometimes, improvisations can be useful in assessing an actor's suitability.

Different Reading Processes

The actors may have time to fully memorise their lines or might instead have to do a cold reading to test how quickly they can grasp the character, and also to see if they can bring something memorable to the performance by ad-libbing.

Callbacks

Reel Prepared

After the auditions are over, a reel will be prepared with the best candidates for the roles which will be shared with the ad agency. They will then decide which actors to call back for another audition.

Decide Who To Call Back

Everything so far has been done to provide the ad agency with options. They will now view the reel and whittle down all of the auditions on tape to a list of actors they would like to audition again. The chosen actors will then be invited to a callback.

The Callback

The callback is where the important casting decisions will be made. This time, all of the key people from the ad agency will be present. The actors involved will be expected to showcase the same qualities that earned them the invitation to audition front of the agency's decision-makers.

Taping The Callback

The callbacks will also be taped and, provided that no further auditions are needed, the resulting reel of the best actors for the role will be sent this time to the client, who will only now have a chance to review the short list of actors the casting director and agency have provided them with.

Presenting Options To The Client

Provide A Strong Shortlist

All of the work up to this point has been to provide the client with a short list of exciting candidates for the roles. The client can now decide who fits their vision and who doesn't.

Final Cast

They client will now have final say on who should be cast and once they have decided, the actor or actors will be approached with an offer to star in the commercial.

Everyone Should Be Happy

If the process has been managed correctly, the casting director, commercial agency and client should all be happy. At each stage, the best candidates have moved forward, until the client has been presented with a number of strong options for the roles in question.

Conclusion

Casting for commercials is an elaborate process involving collaboration between client, ad agency and casting director. It is often a very rushed process with tight deadlines, so it is vital for an ad agency to build up strong relationships with casting agencies and actors' agents and managers. Once the process is managed correctly, all of the parties involved should be completely satisfied.