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Vancouver Casting Director Tiffany Mak (IMDB) talks to the SpringBreak’12 class at Biz Studio about how she got into casting, how much influence she has in determining who gets cast, the process that she goes through when casting a new project, how she chooses people for auditions, what makes an actor stand out in an audition, and more.

“When you learn things that have nothing to do with acting it makes your acting more nuanced and deeper.”

“What makes me choose certain actors over others… maybe resume, who their agent is. There are a handful of agencies out there that will sign on anyone that walks in off the street. I’ll look more at certain agencies that I know are more discerning about who they sign on.”

“It’s so competitive that even just to get in the room, you’re already ahead of the game just by getting in the room, I mean ten people out of two hundred people submitted you’re already at a five percent chance to get in the room to begin with. And that’s where things like your resume, your training, your headshot is key. Your headshot and resume are your business card. So getting high quality headshots even though they’re expensive. So getting them and updating them every time your look changes, whether it’s your hair or your weight or your look or your height, or even just anything like that. Updating your headshot, taking all the classes that you can, sending yourself out for commercials, student films, short films, independent films, just building your resume so you have that on camera experience. And then your agent’s going to push harder for you because they’re confident in your work. And I’m going to push harder for you because I’m going to know that you’ve shown the work ethic and the skill, that you’re going to know what a mark is, where the camera is and where your lighting is, and you’re going to have that discipline. So I think some people think “Oh I’m just going to be a star and be the next Miley Cyrus or Selina Gomez” but you know it rarely happens that way, you need to work your way up you don’t just get handed a lead role. You have to put the work in. You have to commit to it.”

“You have to look forward to being a working actor, not being a famous one.”

“Find different nuances in the scene, when we choose a scene for you to audition with it’s because we want to see what kind of personality traits or quirks or beats you can find. So if you find that you’re playing the scene the same way from beginning to end and your character hasn’t changed or shown any layers, you’re probably not playing the scene to its full potential. Who your character is at the beginning of the scene is different from who your character is at the end. Either there’s a piece of information that’s given to you or that you’ve given to another character, the way that you’re processing it and reacting to what’s happened in the scene, you should be different at the end of it than you are at the beginning… Just make sure that you’re not playing the same note the whole way.”

“So everybody I asked you ‘Do you have any questions before you start your scene?’ a little tip for you guys, the way you can kind of turn it around is ‘I don’t have any questions, but do you have any notes for me before I start this?’ And the reason is that (a) it makes you look like a team player, it makes you look like somebody who wants to be collaborative and try to get as much knowledge and detail before you do your first take. And it also means that if they do have notes for you, then your first take will be better than everybody else’s second take because that way they don’t have to give you the notes and waste your time in that first take, now you guys already have some additional information. And if they don’t have any notes for you, it’s still going to show that you come off confident in your preparation, that you’re saying ‘Throw me a curveball, I’m willing to work with it’.”