by Josh Covitt
Play to the whistle!
In sports, coaches often tell their players to “play to the whistle,” meaning that you don’t stop playing until the referee stops the play. Coaches want players who play to the whistle because they know those players are focused and go all out during the game.
Well guess what? Commercial auditions (and shoots) work the same way!
Obviously there’s no “whistle” or referee when you’re acting. However, in your audition, the whistle is the camera and the referee is whoever is directing you. Don’t just play the scene and stop – keep it going until the camera stops or the director says “cut!” Why? It’s the best way to show that you understand what’s going on and that you can keep the scene alive. It also shows the director that you’re self-sufficient and that they don’t have to worry about you. That you can have fun and play in the scene for as long as is needed.
One of my first commercial acting teachers told me that the people hiring for commercial actors want to feel like all they have to do is turn the camera on and you’ll keep acting forever. I never forgot that piece of advice because it’s still true to this day. Many of the jobs I’ve booked have been because I’ve shown that I’m COMPLETELY comfortable in the world of the commercial, and that I’ll keep playing until I hear the “whistle.”
So always remember to play to the whistle when you’re auditioning for a commercial or filming one!
For more work on this skill and others, I hope you’ll come to The Commercial Workshop at Catapult on August 27th & 28th.