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Ben Cogan has cast hundreds of hours of drama for screen – Ben is a freelance Casting Director having previously worked as a Casting Director at the BBC on many of their top shows. Here Ben  answers five questions relating to casting, offering some great insight and advice…

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What’s the one thing an actor should do more of in a casting?

Listen to the direction of the director. So many times the director has reflected on an actor’s audition and said: “They read really well, but didn’t take the note.” Of course, the director wants to see passion, preparation and understanding – but they need to know that the actor can take a note and deliver it … that’s the connection that they’re looking for.

What’s the one thing an actor should do less of in a casting?

An actor must be brave and bold with their choices from their first read. I’m fully aware and sympathetic to the pressure and nerves that an actor must feel, but they must give the director something to mould and work with.

The actor must meet or spark the enthusiasm of the director by bringing the character instantly to life.

An audition where the director does all the work in making the last read the one that the actor should have come in on … is a frustrating audition.

If you have a lack of quality material for a showreel what would your advice be?

Don’t worry. You don’t need a Downton Abbey backdrop to have a good showreel. My favourite showreel is that of Seline Hizli – she has played some beautiful roles in some excellent production, but her showreel is – as it always has been … just her on a stage delivering a monologue.

The showreel brings the actor’s CV to life. It is viewed with a keen eye that has been intrigued and is looking for confirmation. So just focus on putting yourself forward in the best light and with a strong piece and stress less about having a well-known production surrounding you.

What the greatest misconception actors have when it comes to the casting process?

I advise actors to change their perception of an audition. To not treat this cherished opportunity and platform as an exercise and NOT a job interview. To feel free, empowered and ready to embrace what is a mini-character workshop. To enjoy it!

The best audition of an actor’s career will not necessarily get them the job – but having a reputation for auditioning well WILL lead to more auditions and further platforms to shine.

In your view what’s the best investment an actor can make?

The best investment is setting a set of goals between yourself and your agent and working towards them. Whilst pursuing these goals – keep yourself busy as an actor and aware of the industry surrounding you. Be around to listen and learn from other actors in workshops, showcases, play readings, theatres and screenings. Build your own web – by investing time in learning who is casting what, how they like to be approached and how you can place yourself on their radar in a positive light.

Invest in time devoted to perfecting your CV, showreel and working on your audition technique – put yourself firmly in the position that when the audition comes … you’re prepared, in position and deliciously raring to go!

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