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Getting Work

We recently spoke to leading casting director Martin Gibbons, as part of the Spotlight Graduate Programme. Held in Manchester, the events were tailored to students graduating from drama school in the North West.

Martin Gibbons Casting is an independent casting company experienced in casting TV commercials, television, theatre and film.  Martin has been a casting director on hundreds of commercials for major international and UK companies, as well as working on award winning TV and film projects.  Here are his top tips for students graduating from drama school in 2017.

What do you look for in graduates at showcases?

It’s a tough one as what I’m really looking for is someone who’s really good! I know that’s obvious, but it’s true. I guess, specifically, I’m looking for an actor who is doing a piece that is quite close to who they are, in terms of accent, etc. I remember seeing a piece years ago with two lovely young Scouse lads I knew already, and they did a duologue where they played middle-aged posh banker boys, and I thought, “WHY?” I would have much preferred they had done something young and yes, maybe Scouse! I understand that showing a range is something actors want to do, but in my opinion a showcase is a chance for you to show who you are as an actor and what parts you are likely to be cast in.

Is there any audition etiquette that those new to the industry should be aware of?

Not really, and certainly nothing to worry about. What we want is people who are nice, friendly, confident, but not arrogant, and who listen. We’ll give you all the information you need (that’s our job), and then we need the actors to use their talent and bring it to life. Simple.

What makes a great self-tape audition?

I think this is very basic, but can we see you? Think about the lighting. Can we hear you? Think about the sound. Then just make sure there is nothing distracting in the background and do what you do best – the acting bit!

What stands out to you in a good showreel?

I have very specific thoughts on showreels and not necessarily what others might think. In my mind, showreels only work if you have the footage to warrant one. Don’t run before you can walk. I’m not a fan of showreel-specific footage. I’d rather see one piece of footage from a TV appearance or a very good short film, rather than lots of amateur footage of actors crying, shouting, or waving guns around!

Do you prefer black and white or coloured headshots?

Colour. Black and white headshots, like black and white TV, are from the past.

Should graduates ever approach casting directors with their Spotlight profile or showreel?

Of course, why not. I’ll be honest, we read every email that arrives but unfortunately we don’t reply to all as we don’t have the time, so if you don’t mind that we may not reply, carry on!

If a graduate is unrepresented, would you still consider seeing them for a role?

Again, definitely! The only problem with being unrepresented is that you sometimes might not see the briefs we send out. Once we have applications, who suggested the actor (be it themselves or an agent) doesn’t matter at all!

Spotlight’s next week of free events will be open to all members and held in our London studios from 3rd to 7th April. Keep an eye on Twitter and your inbox for updates!