I recently had a friend asking me about the importance of Commercial Classes.
I feed back was, don't take any commercial classes unless you are interested in doing commercial works.(And of course, get a Commercial Agent, and attend Commerical Casting Calls)
But of course, for all the full-time working Actors, it is important to land a Commercial Agent before landing a Legit Agent - mainly because booking a Commercial can really help you pay the bills. Plus for both LA & NY, Commercial Agents are more likely to freelance (specially they need new faces and different types to cover all areas of Comemrcial Casting). And if you are a full time actor, I don't see why you shouldn't cover all grounds of show business: Theatre, TV, Film, Commercial, Industrial, Print, and Live Promotion, etc.
What are some commercial types?
Interview / Testimonial
2+ People Scene
Of all the above, the actor may be required to memorize lines for a scene, improv a scene based on a given situation, reading from cue cards or teleprompter, or series of reactions.
An Actor who is booked on a commercial, probably has one, or all the following qualities:
Approachable - Personality shines in this department. For majority of commercials, they are looking for real people with real personalities.
Believable - Whatever production/brand you are selling. For a testimonial scene, you gotta believe-in and be honest with words that comes out of your mouth.
Relatable - This probably falls under what "Types" of actor you are. And how your "type" related to the product and the targeted audience.
Watchable - The look. I know, this is a 'visual' business after all. The camera must love you.
So yeah, whenever you go to ANY commercial audition, make sure you are fully aware of what product/brand the commercial is for. Tt doesn't hurt to dress the part - and make sure you are camera ready.
New York Commercial Class Breakdowns (listing by price):
Weist-Barron Commercial Class
5 or 6 classes for about $58 per class.
Taught by either experienced Actor, Director, or Independent Casting Director (Shirley Sender). Weist Barron is considered one of the old school Acting Studios in New York. Their classes are affortable compairing to other Acting Studios - And they specializes in Soap (3 Camera setting) and Commercial Classes.
Angela Mickey Commercial Class @ Actors Technique
5 Classes for about $60 per class.
This is probably the best deal in NY. Not only the student get to work with Angela Mickey (Senior casting Director at Liz Lewis Casting) for 5 weeks, The class covers all aspects of commercial audition, as well as the business side of acting. The last class will be a showcase to two New York Commercial Agents. So, not only you get to establish a working-relationship with a commercial casting director, you will get to show your work to agents, who you can follow-up with postcards (or they might start sending you out on auditions).
Barry Shapiro Commercial Class @ Actors Connection
5 Classes for about $67 per class.
Barry Shapiro is the Casting Director (and business partner) of Herman & Lipson Casting. Peole who have taken his class told me the course was a lot of fun, where actors get to do a lot of improv.
Tisha Ioli, Casting Director at Don Case Casting also teaches at Actors Connection. 4 classes for about $63 per class.
David Cady Commercial Workshop
6 Classes for about $75 per class.
David Cady is a Casting Director at Donna DeSeta Casting. Not only David Cady has been teaching for years... Donna DeSeta Casting covers all types of casting from Webseries, Industrial, Voice Over/Radio, On Cameral, Print, and recently, Major Feature Film.
The class covers all aspects of commercial audition, as well as the business side of acting. The last class will be a showcase to one New York Commercial Agents.
Erica Palgon Commercial Workshop
4 Classes for about $75 per class.
Erica Palgon used to be a Casting Director at Liz Lewis Casting. Now she has her own company "Erica Palgon Casting & Beyond." People who have taken her class had many great things about her approach. Erica is straight forward, to the point, and result oriented. The classes focus more on Cold-reading skills.
Downstairs/Hungry Man Commercial Workshop
4 Classes for about $80 per class.
Taught by both Fay Shumsey and Stephanie Dalle Molle, the Commercial Casting Directors for Hungry Man Inc.
Downstairs Casting do both Union and Non-Union projects. I haven't met anyone who have taken their classes (since they are very low-profile)... But I assuming the structre of the class is very similiar to Brooke & Mary.
On Camera Commercial Class at Scott Powers Studio.
6 Classes for about $88 per class.
Unlike other classes taught by Commercial Casting Directors, the Commercial Class at Scott Powers are taught by Commercial Agent Stephanie Artuso (of TalentWorks) and Commercial Director Jeremy Russell.
While some Actors take Commercial Classes with Casting Directors, learning and understand what the CDs are expecting at an audition room, and hopefully, will land a gig and eventually get signed by an Agent; this works the other way around.
At the last class, it will be a showcase to a Commercial Casting Director.
Brooke & Mary Commercial Workshops
3 Classes for about $141 per class.
Taught by both Brooke Thomas and Mary Egan Callahan, the Casting Directors at House Production. It is probably one of the biggest casting/production company in New York. As they cover everything - commercials, TV promo, Industrial, Fashion, Print, Reality Show and Films...etc. Very expensive, but very effective. Brooke and Mary will really work you until you nail the techniques. Many commercial agents have mentioned their class at seminars... Since House Production does many Non-Union projects, if you are not currently in SAG/AFTRA, and looking to get do more Non-Union Commercial work, this may be a great wait to build a working relationship with the ladies from house Production.