I got a call a few days later saying that I'd been selected to attend. Basically, Fern would be discussing what it takes to get cast in TV and she also helped each actor determine their "type". On top of that, she'd be critiquing our headshots.
I arrived about 15 minutes late because I took too long getting ready, lol. She had already started and I walked in on her telling an actor that he "Looks crazy as hell" in is headshot. Ha! This lady was ON FIRE. She was brutally honest when talking about how casting works and how casting directors have no imagination. She dropped many F bombs and was absolutely hilarious. She said that they have very specific ideas about what a "type" looks like when casting a role and if you don't fit the description, you don't get called in.
She had a copy of every actor's headshot and went one by one, showing it off to the entire room and asking the others to weigh in on what kinds of characters we thought the person could play. She also asked each actor to tell her what they thought their type was. Nine times out of ten, the actor's thoughts did NOT align with her perception of the actor's headshot. I was shocked at how terrible most of the headshots were. She was not shy about telling actors exactly what was wrong either!
Here are some of my favorite pieces of advice that she gave:
- Think of it as "I just got hired to play...." when dressing for headshots. How would you be dressed on set? (Don't take this literally when thinking of a nurse/doctor role, but your outfit needs to have the essence of it, such as a v-neck shirt) Think of the photoshoot as a performance. All of the elements need to contribute to the performance.
- You need to have separate shots for each 'character'. Don't try to marry multiple characters into one shot.
- Pay careful attention to the background! Make sure it matches the character. (Many actors had headshots that were done against brick walls, giving the shot a grittier feel when the actor's type may have been 'girl next door' or 'sensitive artist'.)
I told her that I'd be re-shooting in a month and she said she wants me to get photos that show me as more sophisticated and womanly. She wants more attitude and a 'take charge' personality. I think she pegged me pretty well considering she'd never met me before. Also, when I look at the acting gigs that I've booked in recent months, she's DEFINITELY spot on because I've been playing women with attitude and a take no prisoners approach. She also said to make sure I get photos done with my hair straight.
All in all, it was a great works shop and I'm glad that I read that email from SAG. Fern was such a nice woman and she gave all of the actors her email address so that we can keep in touch with her and ask for advice on new headshots.