Ignite Insights with Associate Casting Director Olissa Rogers
Ignite Films Presents #IgniteInsights – A series showcasing professionals throughout the industry, with questions from you. An educational tool for creatives wanting to work in the industry.
NAME AND PROFESSION
Welcome to Ignite Insights my name is Olissa Rogers, I am a casting associate currently working for Fiona Weir Casting and my career highlights so far I think the highlight of all of them was um ted lasso when I worked for Theo Park back in 2018 doing the casting for Ted Lasso I think that’s my career highlight.
WILL THE INDUSTRY BOUNCE BACK AFTER COVID, THE PANDEMIC?
I do believe that in the room auditions will come back but I do think that it’s going to take a bit for it to be back to full-blown I do feel like there’s going to be a balance between in the room auditions and self-tapes so I don’t think self-tapes will ever go away because we always also have the opportunity to see more actors because of self takes so I feel like it’ll be a balance, um yeah that’s my opinion.
HOW LONG DO YOU GIVE A SELF-TAPE WHEN DECIDING ON A CASTING?
I give the self-tape probably 10 seconds before I decide if they’re right for the part obviously I would watch it to the end but it’s like going on a date you know within the first few seconds if the person is right or not so it’s the same with self-tapes you just know but we do watch it to the end but I’ve pretty much already made up my mind unless they really surprised me if I think that they weren’t right um but normally it’s within the first few seconds.
WHAT COMMON MISTAKES DO ACTORS MAKE ON A SELF-TAPE?
I don’t really see any common mistakes that actors do during the self-tape, um I haven’t come across that so that’s the question I can’t really answer I think they tend to overthink things if so they think that it has to be picture perfect which is not the case because when you come into an audition you got that one shot so treat your self-tape as if it were an audition so don’t make it perfect we just need to know that you’re flexible and that you can act and that you fit for the part but there’s not really like a common mistake I would say in my case.
ADVICE FOR ACTORS WHEN SENDING IN SELT-TAPES
The best advice I can offer actors when sending in a self-tape is not to overthink it and to make sure you label it and it’s the same advice I would give when you go into a room and you’ve done your casting. Do it, forget about it because it’s out of your control, um so when you send in a self-tape just make sure you’ve read the instructions because there are reasons why we ask for certain things that you just take those five minutes to read clearly what’s stated. Make sure it’s labelled we can hear it the quality is good it shouldn’t be like a huge size that we can’t download and also not like compressed so we can’t see the quality, so just a normal phone is fine as long as we can see you and hear you that’s the main thing.
AN ACTOR WHO TAPES WELL VS AN ACTOR WHO WORKS WELL ON SET
I would prefer an actor that works while on set with crew because if you have an actor that’s maybe the best but he’s a pain in the butt, nobody wants to work with him and I mean that poor set and crew people um but to be honest that’s never happened like I’ve never heard of that before maybe once in a blue moon and that actor then never worked again, they um I don’t think they ever got a job again so most of the actors actually behave but if I were to choose I would go with the one that behaves well on set and with the crew because that will affect the other partners that they play with as well so if you have somebody who’s arrogant and cannot work well with them you have to act with that person that’s never going to be a good result either way so yeah the one that’s capable to work with the crew and set, please.
DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR SET OF AGENTS THAT YOU USE TO CAST FROM?
We do not go to a particular group of agents and I feel like most casting directors do not do that, I feel like that’s like a myth that goes around actors or sometimes even agents that ask if you put them on their list so like we don’t have lists. We go out to certain agents if we cast something that’s up north like when we did Brassic back then we would reach out to the northern agents first because it made sense it would have to be like day players that are local but other than that we don’t go to like a trusted group we go out to all if there’s something that needs to be cast last minute we would probably go to those that we know that will deliver because we don’t have time to go through 5000 applications but other than that open to everybody.
ADVICE FOR ACTORS LOOKING FOR AN AGENT OR UNREPRESENTED ACTORS
I would say um there’s no golden nugget I always get that question I just say be very proactive write your own stuff, if you’re not a writer find some writers go and collaborate with people from the industry, go to networking events just put yourself out there, like if you go to join a theatre group put up a show invite us um just being proactive like you’ll have to do the agent’s work but some people work well without agents, they work better without it um so I would say just stay proactive and just do your own stuff write your own stuff and be patient with yourself, yer.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO SEE IN A SHOWREEL?
The acting, like there’s nothing I want to see in the showreel apart from that you can act so put your best scene upfront because we decide within the first few seconds if we like you or not, so for me it’s the acting but that’s simple as that there’s no complicated answer that it’s very simple the acting and it shouldn’t be too long, I like it separate in comedy and drama but I don’t really mind, it’s the acting that stands out for me that’s my answer.
SHOULD ACTORS REACH OUT TO CASTING DIRECTORS?
I do feel like actors can reach out to casting directors or casting offices if they have new work or headshots as long as they keep it, how do you say it, as long as they don’t overdo it so if they have a reason why you’re emailing us but again that depends on every office so some offices don’t like it, some do so just make sure you know which office likes what because we’re all very different like we’re not all the same and that’s what actors sometimes think that we all like it a certain way but we all have a different taste, like actors have a different taste like everybody in the world has a different taste, but um in general in my opinion I feel like actors can reach out to update us but it has to be there for a reason and don’t overdo it because we have your cv we keep it safe so yes feel free to reach out.
HOW SHOULD AN EMAIL TO A CASTING DIRECTOR LOOK?
An email to a Casting Director should be to the whole casting office, first of all, so never forget the team because it’s the team that does the little things so that’s why I say also when you ask questions just be careful that you also mentioned the casting associate and the assistant it’s a whole team, so I would say email keep it short and simple don’t write a whole essay just say hi my name is so-and-so, if you are have any projects that I’m suitable for I would love to be kept in mind for it, here is a link to your spotlight because then we can see what you’ve done and that’s it because we get so many emails daily that we do not have time not always time to read, so just keep it short and simple, we see it and keep a picture embedded in the email so we see your face straight away that way we can see oh is there a project they might be suitable for straight away, but short and simple yes.
HOW MUCH DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK ECT…
We use social media sometimes, as for Twitter like if we post a casting call and we’re not just putting it on Spotlight we would also put it out on Twitter, we don’t use Instagram we might have a look on Tik-Tok but rarely, rarely, rarely that happens. On specific jobs, but other than that we use social media now and then I feel like it is important but we still rely on the old school techniques like Spotlight and um yeah so we use social media but we keep it in limit, like some people use it a lot some people use it less we use it depending on the project I would say.
SHOULD ACTORS POST WORK ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
I feel like it’s a good thing that actors post their work on social media like I have no opinion of whether it’s good or wrong good or bad wrong or right I think it’s I for me it’s a good thing I don’t necessarily always see it but it’s a bigger chance to get seen like if somebody’s on their break or can scroll through and see that they yeah so it might catch our eye again don’t overdo it just keep it in for in reason um but I don’t see why not I mean feel free to post it as long as you’re sure of it and you know this is your best work you’re displaying because otherwise, it could go backfire on you um but yeah I’m like why not go for it I mean Johnny Weldon, for example, he got a huge following a huge like attention by place posting all of those um short clips so why not yeah
ADVICE FOR ACTORS DEALING WITH REJECTION
Yes rejection is hard but I feel like it only makes you stronger, it’s like a lesson that you need to learn and grow through so I would see it as a good thing because it just fills your confidence, it builds your strength up your persistence your endurance, your confidence might be a bit knocked but you just have to pick yourself up again. I feel like also just think if it is it is, if it’s not then it’s not supposed to be, I mean what’s meant to happen will happen um once you’ve done your audition it’s out of your control you never know what the reason is mainly, most of the time it’s not because of your acting it’s because that the other actor worked better with this or different kinds of tastes between the producers, writers and directors but I think just handle a rejection as a thing to just grow like even work push harder, push harder and know that you can do it and it’s not the right time for you to to get it yet, but it will as long as you’re patient you trust and you’re persistent and everything so I say, see it as a lesson that you just grow from it, that’s my my opinion on handling rejection because it wasn’t supposed to be.
HOW CAN AN ACTOR STAY SHARP AND READY TO GO WHILE NOT WORKING?
I think just go get on with trying to get work just being proactive and just do things don’t again overthink it, find things that might distract you like just try something else like a hobby that will balance it all out and don’t worry if no work is coming in that’s the actor’s journey and also casting directors are aware that there aren’t a lot of working actors in this community that have one job after the other back to back so I don’t think that’s something you need to even question because we are aware of that, there are really not many working actors having back-to-back jobs so don’t worry too much about staying sharp because we know, I hope that makes sense.
HOW DID YOU BECOME A CASTING DIRECTOR?
My journey into this industry started back in 2008, so 13 years ago I fell into it funny enough so I was finishing school I didn’t want to study but my parents said I had to do something so I looked into tv entertainment because I also liked the performing side, um and then I saw this job for an internship at a tv company and I applied and I got it, it was casting and I didn’t even know what it was back then I said I’ll just try it out and somehow I was good at it. I was told that I was good at it so I kept on going I did do musical theatre and drama um in between and balance like both things so casting and acting but um that’s how I started 2008 geez 13 years ago yeah.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT CASTING THAT YOU LOVE?
I think it’s just to tell a story that moves the world and to help actors grow, to see their faces light up when you give them good feedback or when they get something and they just thank you, the gratitude and making a project come to life that’s what I love about the process from the start to the end.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF CASTING FROM START TO FINISH?
Casting a project varies a lot I mean it starts off with sometimes a consulting job to attach the lead parts, to get money for Hollywood stars or something, once that’s done you then start casting the supporting lead role or the other lead roles, the supporting roles the smaller parts putting out breakdowns doing the auditions sending that off to the producers, directors, seeing who they like and then it’s about doing the deals with the agents, negotiating the fees and then that’s pretty much it, that’s pretty much it yeah so I said it in a very very short summary because it’s a lot to say and I don’t want to bore anybody here but it’s pretty much yeah attaching an a-lister if that’s what is needed then with the rules sending out the breakdowns, finding the actors, getting them in doing callbacks finding the right actor with the producers and directors and then doing the contracts and once the contracts are done that’s our job finished, and then maybe a set visit if that fits in.
OTHER THAN SPOTLIGHT DO YOU USE ANY OTHER CASTING DATABASE?
Other than spotlight we don’t really use a different tool I mean we would reach out to Twitter or we would look through old projects and look at the lists and the people that we called in from previous projects who we thought were good and could be good for this part um so we would probably refer back to old lists but mainly its Spotlight or maybe a little bit of IMDB but mainly Spotlight, memory and the lists.
FINAL WORDS OF WISDOM
Can’t believe I’m just saying Ted Lasso hashtag’s, believe in it, believe in yourself if you don’t believe in yourself how will anybody else do it be persistent be patient with yourself trust the timing if it didn’t happen it wasn’t supposed to happen to keep on working on your craft and never give up if it’s what you love and what you want to do continue going and just hang in there we’re all in the same game we need you as much as you need us that’s another thing we’re not on a throne or we’re not on a pedestal if there weren’t actors I didn’t have a job I wouldn’t have a job so know that we need you and that we value you we want you to get the job but mainly believe in yourself um because that will show the confidence that’s what we need to see so I hope you enjoyed this and thank you ignite for having me.