GIMME A COMMERCIAL BREAK Breaking in and Breaking Down Your Commercial Career

If you are an Actor starting out or jump starting your career the Commercial World is a fantastic place to work your craft, earn enough money to “make a living” and learn valuable practical lessons that will shape and form your entire Acting career.  The commercial world is really no different from the world of Film and TV as far as the basics are concerned.  The same pre-production, production and post production work that goes into a theatrical project goes into a commercial.  In fact if you extrapolated the budget for a national network spot or even a regional spot for a large company it compares to working on a huge Studio Film.  Hundreds of Thousands and on occasion a Million or more dollars go into creating thirty to sixty seconds of story telling enticing you to become emotionally attached enough to the story about the product, service or cause to part with your hard earned money to buy, subscribe or support it.

More often than not unless you are a celebrity or the official spokesperson for the endorsed entity the Actors role is big in terms of storytelling but small in terms of budget and payment.  The halcyon days of huge residual checks and home run commercials that set you up financially are over.  Don’t get me wrong it is still possible to make a living as a commercial actor but the number of spots you shoot determined by the number of auditions you go on and the juggling act of not being over exposed make it exceedingly more difficult than it was in the past.  The formula of cable, wild-spot and national runs is skewed in favor of the company, Ad-agency and Production entities rather than the Actor.  Even though the talent payments comprise a small percentage of the overall budget they will still give it their best effort to pay you as little as possible, it just makes good business sense to do so.

There is the myth out there still hanging on from the days when companies shot one or two commercials a year and ran them hundreds of times on three networks that Actors are buying houses and fancy cars with their residual checks.  The truth is even booking a few successful and popular commercials a year after taxes and commissions paid out it is still a struggle to pay the basic bills.  Combining your commercial career with a few roles in films and an occasional Network Television appearance then you have a career you can hang your hat on and live a middle to upper middle class life.  The truth is that a commercial career is a lynchpin in your total career as an Actor tough to stand on it alone but when combined with other Acting opportunities allowing you to work exclusively and full time as an Actor.  If you aren’t firmly established as a commercial Actor then how do you “crack the code” and get in to audition consistently and work steadily.  Come back here next Tuesday to find out how to get yourself into the game.

Dawn DavisJune 27, 2012 - 2:53 pm

Great points Kevin~ look forward to next weeks article. Having booked SAG National & Regional commercials, you are right, it’s not enough to ‘set you up for life’, but, if you’ve come to a place where you operate from a place of what you ‘need’, as opposed to what you want, you are able to cover you’re expenses and live fairly comfortably. Throw in a great, flexible part-time job that allows you to go on auditions/gigs when you need to, because they know you are going to get your work done and you can have a pretty nice life doing what you love!

susanJanuary 23, 2013 - 6:35 am

Looking forward for the next segment. I am getting Callback after callback. I am ready to start booking. Secrets?

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