For aspiring models and actors, getting a handle on the basics takes a bit of time. You want to be professional and ask for clarity, but you also don’t want to ask questions that make you look like a total newbie either. If you’re new to the biz, you’ll learn quickly that bookers and agents are busy people (sometimes borderline frantic when dealing with emergency castings or client firebombs), and won’t have a ton of time to explain some of the finer points of the process.
Here are some terms that get thrown about quite a bit in go-sees and auditions. I’m working on a ginormous glossary right now, so this is just a sneak peek at a few audition terms you need ASAP.
Slate: Slating is your on-camera introduction to the client or casting agent. You usually just say your name and height, but sometimes you’ll be asked other questions to see how you look on camera and to give a sense of your overall energy. Slates in Japan are slightly different than in the States– here’s a little video on how it’s done.
Mark(s): A mark is where you are placed on set, usually indicated by a t-shaped piece of tape on the floor. Multiple marks are used for moving shots, and are known numerically. “Here’s your 1… and here’s your 2.” Usually for commercials, you’ll be asked to hit certain lines at certain marks, and if it’s a multiple camera shoot, look at different cameras at different marks and different times. Working with multiple cameras is a different story— it gets super tricky. The Colbert Report’s Stephen Colbert is always at his desk, but he does multiple camera work beautifully.
Cheating and eye line aren’t realism, but help create the overall tone in a shot.
Cheat: This means you appear to be facing or looking at a particular person, point or object, but to make the shot more visually appealing, you’re asked to angle your face, body, or eye line in a way that might not be realistic. This happens a lot with product shooting. Let’s say you’re holding a bottle of shampoo for a shampoo ad. You’ll be asked to “cheat toward camera” which means to angle both your face and the product toward the camera for a clear, straight, shot, rather than holding something and looking at it like you would in real life.
Eye Line: Plainly– the direction you’re looking. Often when you’re asked to cheat towards whatever, you might be given a visual mark (or even a crew member will stand in a spot) to indicate your eye line.
The actor’s life: sides and coffee.
Sides: A side is a portion of a script (usually involving two characters) selected for you to read during an audition. Occasionally sides have nothing to do with the project you’re auditioning for but this isn’t common (but it does happen– not sure why?). Online castings usually have downloadable sides, or your agent will email them to you.
I’m putting the finishing touches on a comprehensive guidebook to getting work for both the American and Japanese markets. If you’re interested in getting a sneak peek– message me and I’ll put you on the list!
Break a leg!