Guest Teacher Policy for Casting Directors / Associates
PLEASE NOTE: All of our classes with guest casting directors/associates/assistants are a learning experience, not an audition or employment opportunity. When the workshop/class is over, the casting director/casting associate/assistant (whichever is applicable) teaching will not be taking home nor be given access to your headshot, resume or any other of your promotional materials.
Guest teachers scheduled for a particular week(s) in our multi-week classes are based on their availability which may change at the last minute due to their casting duties, are not guaranteed, and may be subbed out for another teacher. (Most of our teachers at the Green Room have extensive experience as current or former Casting professionals at major Chicago or LA casting offices. Those without casting experience have developed successful careers as professional actors.)
In short- a bit about our program overall....
The primary focus of the our kids curriculum is on-camera commercial audition training, and was designed by Casting Directors who've worked extensively in the Chicago marketplace. Our teachers and guest teachers include current and former casting directors/associates/assistants from major casting offices including O'Connor Casting, PR Casting, and Karge + Ross Casting, as well as actors who have extensive professional experience and successful careers. The local casting directors stay active in our curriculum, and we keep in conversation with them as to how effective the training is and what modifications we can make to keep the Chicago talent pool moving forward to attract even more work to our town. Styles change rapidly in this business, and so must an effective on camera curriculum. Most sessions we are able to bring in a current local casting director to work with the kids for one or two of the class days.
Can I just call to figure out the right class for my child? (click for answer)
Yes. But we have a very small staff, and don't keep regular office hours. Email is by far the easiest contact method as we can get to it in between auditions or classes. We will work with each student & parent to direct them towards the class that is best for them, but PLEASE explore the website as much as possible! The info here can probably answer most of your questions! See the class descriptions below for our teaching approach and curriculums. This top section is all business stuff!
Can my child be placed in an age group that is slightly older or younger than what they really are?
In short, yes. We trust your judgement.
Sometimes a child is rather mature for their age, rather shy, or simply because their sibling is in the other age group, the family can't carve out a full four hour chunk on every Saturday, and it would be way easier if the kids could just be in the same class! Our policy is thus: we are open to that within reason, and the parents are typically far better judges on whether it is an appropriate move or not. Here are a few bits of info that can help you make your decisions:
Being off by one year is usually fine, two years only occassionally works,
three or more- no way.
You are the parent. You know the maturity level of you child. Be honest about it.
Each class uses scripts that are typical for that age group. More often than not, it behooves a child that looks like a six year old to work on scripts that are written for a six year old, regardless of how mature they may be. A six year old reading at a 13yr old level still looks like a six year old, and will be cast accordingly. But this is by no means a deal breaker.
The basic concepts and issues taught in each age group are, for the most part, the same. There are some scripts that are different to fit the age groups, and a few of our approaches on certain topics may be modified and simplified for our youngest groups, but the overall approach is intact and similar in each of the age groups.
What kind of kids & teens take classes at The Green Room?
Our students range from child actors who are already out there in the business, to kids who have never taken an acting class in their lives; From extremely precocious to painfully shy. Some take our classes to help further their careers, some to help them out of their shells and gain some self-confidence in their everyday lives. We approach all of our students as if they are here to learn how to succeed in the on camera business in Chicago and beyond, and are here to guide our students and their parents through the maze of issues including talent agents, headshots, casting directors, bookings, etc. But if you want to join us for classes and have no interest in actually getting into the business of it all, that's fine too!
All classes are limited in size- See particular class description for details. Not all classes are offered each term- see schedule for classes available currently.
A modified version of our On-Camera adult curriculum geared towards the on camera commercial and TV/film roles that teens will audition for. The Green Room's curriculum is known for being far more in depth that a "typical" kids acting class. We cover a wide range of topics in commercial and TV/film acting from the perspective of casting directors. Limit 12 students.
Work in a classroom setting with other teens on roles written for teens.
Learn how to analyze a variety of script structures.
Learn an effective audition strategy that may differ from other mediums.
Learn how to use and develop your own personality.
Work towards “keeping it real”.
Incorporate tips and tricks that many actors overlook.
Strengthen your business and communication skills as you discover
what is expected of you.
Develop your ability to use Simplicity / Specificity as an incredible tool.
Kids On-Camera (Two different age groups: 8-12yrs and 5-7yrs)
Our curriculum combines modified theatre games and simulated on-camera auditions to free up the young actors creativity and comfortability while providing them with hands-on knowledge of the on-camera audition process. They will leave class knowing what is expected of them in an on-camera audition, and how to have fun while being successful. The Green Room's curriculum is known for being far more in depth that a "typical" kids acting class. Subject matter and games are specific to each age group. Each session, we typically are visited by a guest industry professional such as a Casting Director, Talent Agent, or Director (schedule permitting). There is also an informational meeting with the parents to help them know what is expected from them, and how they can be a part of their child's on-camera interests. Limit 12 students.
This is a place for teens who have taken class with us before to continue their On-Camera work and dive into new, more challenging scripts. This is designed to be a class that can be taken more than once.
Kids On-Camera On-Going Workshop (8-12yrs or 5-7yrs)
This is a place for kids who have taken class with us before to continue their On-Camera work and dive into new, more challenging scripts. This is designed to be a class that can be taken more than once.
Do you need an audition recorded or some one-on-one time to focus on a specific training issue? The Green Room is your professional resource for coaching and taping. We will record your coaching sessions so you can review them at home, or we can help you create a professional looking audition using our studio space and equipment. We help coach you to your best performance so you feel confident about your audition, and edit it into an easily downloaded format for submission. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call for pricing and availability.
When I first graduated from college with my degree in theatre I thought I was prepared for my future life as a professional actor. And in a way, I was. I auditioned for and was cast in plays. It was fun and I got to do the thing I loved. But then I started auditioning for commercials, TV shows and films and I wasn’t getting bookings like I thought I should. I knew I was a good actor but for some reason no one else seemed to agree. So I took one on-camera class and called it a day. It helped, but I still wasn’t booking.
It wasn’t until I came to The Green Room TEN years ago in 2009 that things really started to click. I’d never had anyone break down all the aspects of on-camera acting in a way that felt manageable and helpful the way The Green Room did. All of a sudden, I understood what a commercial casting director was looking for and how I fit into the story they were trying to tell.
I felt so empowered I continued through the program to find out more about what I’d been missing. The main thought that kept running through my head during those classes was: “I wish I had taken these sooner.” I worked on scripts for TV shows and in front of casting directors in a comfortable learning environment. I watched myself on tape. I started to recognize facial tics I have that I was totally unaware of. I learned to critique my performance – not as an insecure actor – but as an objective viewer.
And I started BOOKING. It took almost two years of working in class, but I did it. I broke through whatever invisible shield there was and started booking commercials and then TV shows and occasionally a film. If I hadn’t done that work, I don’t think I’d have the career I have today.
Now I work for The Green Room. So I know I’m biased. I get it. So I say this – you don’t have to take classes at The Green Room. But take classes. Take classes ANYWHERE. Get in front of the camera as often as you can. If you don’t have the funds to take classes right now, put yourself on camera with your phone. Get some friends together and work stuff out. Start putting aside some money to enroll in a class one day. Chicago has a lot of great acting schools. The Green Room is one of them. It worked for me. Find the one that works for you.
As a recurring character on a network television show and an acting coach, I get a lot of emails from people asking what they can expect from their first day on set for an episodic.
I remember my first day on a network TV set, as “EMT #1” on Chicago Fire. I was excited, but mostly nervous. It was a hot Saturday in July. Most people I knew were at Lollapalooza and I was on 290 in an ambulance.
At lunch, I was eating alone and my background EMT partner sat at another table alone. I called him over. He told me he wasn’t allowed to talk to “1st team”, which is why he didn’t automatically sit by me. It wasn’t my first time on set ever, but it felt like it and I could have used some company. I hope I can shed some light for you here on a day in the life on set, so you can be less nervous than I was on day one.
The night before, you’ll get a call time from the Key 2nd AD (assistant director). Don’t ask your agent about your call time. They won’t know. This is because your call time depends on when the crew is wrapping for the evening before your shoot. They need 9-12 hours of turnaround time from one day to another (depending on actors and crew turnaround times.)
When you get on set, find the 2nd AD and get their name. They’ll sign you in and get you to your trailer/honeywagon. There you’ll read, sign and take a picture of your contract. Make sure your rate, your name and everything is correct. If not, reach out to your agent or SAG-AFTRA.
If your name is incorrect, that’s how it will show up in the credits of the show. If your rate is scale, check and see that there’s a + 10% for your agent. If not, your agent can’t take money out of your scale pay. Look out for them, too. If it’s above scale, they’ll take the 10% out of your pay, or have your agent negotiate 10% on top of your above scale pay.
Always take a picture of your contract and keep it for future reference! Don’t feel rushed. You’ll have time.
Get dressed in your trailer. They’ll call you to hair and makeup so you’ll be ready to head to set for rehearsals. First you might have a private rehearsal for the actors, director, DP (director of photography), script supervisor, and writer. There will definitely be a marking rehearsal for the crew. After that you’ll get wired (your mic) and sit around to wait until the crew sets up the shot.
You’ll be on 1st team, and they’ll use a 2nd team (stand-ins) to get lighting and shots set up.
On set, the director and the 1st AD will be running the show and giving you direction. The script supervisor will let you know if you’re getting your lines wrong. Make sure you’re matching up where you say your lines on each shot. This will help in the editing room.
There will be a lot of “hurry up and wait”. You’ll film your scene from multiple angles and shots with lots of set up in between for the crew. We get paid to sit around and wait!
SAG-AFTRA actor, Ilyssa Fradin, is often asked how long an actor will be on set for the day. She says to expect 8-12 hours. Just come prepared. Bring your chargers for your electronics, some work and reading materials. Fradin recommends bringing your own food in case you can’t get to Craft Services or have specific nutritional needs or food allergies.
My advice to you is to know your lines and your mark, and LISTEN!
Have a good attitude. Have fun and be yourself, but read the room. Know when to talk and when to stay quiet. Take direction and listen to everything being said to you and around you. When the director yells cut, go closer (but not too close!) to the conversations if you can.
Nicole McGovern, 2nd 2nd AD (no, that’s not a typo) on Chicago Med says, “Observe what’s happening. Be self-aware, but not in the way.” McGovern also says to be prepared for anything. Scenes get changed and moved to different days. “If you’re working multiple days, we may add another scene if we are ahead of schedule. A set may not be ready or an emergency may come up.”
When someone tells you their name, listen, say it out loud back to them, and write it down so you remember it next time you see them. Get a call sheet and study the names of the crew. They are making you look and sound good. They are awesome. Be friends with them. Thank them for their hard work!
Be aware of where the cameras are at all times, but of course don’t look into them.
Be prepared, but flexible.
Be willing to fail, and be willing to succeed.
Know that one mistake will not get you fired. Let it go, take a deep breath, and fix it in the next take. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I’d never be called in again, and four years later, I’m still there!
Don’t stop acting until someone yells cut, even if you think you’ve messed up and you want to start over. Keep going unless you’re told differently. They might be getting someone else’s coverage, and don’t need your lines to be right in that take. Keep going!
Never leave set without telling anyone. Find a PA (production assistant) or a 2nd AD and let them know where you’re going (ie: your trailer, the bathroom, to makeup etc). If you’re going to the bathroom, just ask, “Can I 10-1?” They’ll know what you mean.
If you’re like me, you’re probably worried you don’t know what you’re doing. No one really does his or her first day on set. Just pay attention to the veterans and learn on the job.
Sean Bradley, SAG-AFTRA actor and owner of The Green Room Studio says, “You don’t need to know everything. Feel free to ask questions.”
McGovern agrees, “You can ask the AD’s or PA’s questions. You might think it’s a stupid question, but it’s probably not.” (Fear not, there are a ton of PAs whose job it is to take care of you like you are a baby.)
Bradley adds, “Stay away from the dessert table. It’s a dangerous drug that will make you very sleepy for the rest of the day.”
Speaking of energy for the day, I always meditate beforehand. It helps me stay calm when action is yelled. I’m more focused and relaxed, and I find it helps me be best self in a stressful time. Need a guided meditation? Reach out to me and I’ll send one!
Finally, one of the stars on Med gave some great advice to a day player the other day. She was telling him there was food available for the cast and crew. She told him to go get a container and put it in his trailer before the food was gone. Then she yelled as he was leaving, “Act like you belong!” The first few times you are on set, you might not feel like you belong. You do. Act like it. Don’t be a jerk, but act confidently. You’re worthy of being there. Like the old saying goes, “Fake it ‘til you make it”!
And at the end of the day, find your 2nd AD who signed you in and sign out properly!