Nancy Bishop blog posts

Playing the Bad Guy or Girl

DON’T JUDGE YOUR CHARACTER. This is a note I give again and again, even in this column.

Recently I’ve been interviewing actors for characters who are drug dealers, criminals and strip club dancers. When you are creating these characters, please remember that they are actually human beings. They have parents, friends, lovers. They breathe, eat and sweat.

Often when actors are assigned characters like this, they decide to judge them or put themselves outside of them. For example, I’m playing a gangster so he should have a low gravelly voice. If YOU don’t have a low gravelly voice, please don’t put one on. In film acting, we want to see YOU in the role. As soon as you start layering on, you get further and further from yourself and the character becomes less and less believable. The biggest problem we have had in casting gangsters is that they become cliched cartoon characters. 

Jamie Payne, the director who I’m currently working with kept reminding the actors who …

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Waiting after an Audition

“How long until I find out if I booked the role?” This is something that can make actors very nervous. I’m sorry that there is not an easy answer. It’s like my lawyer said when I was negotiating a real estate deal, “How long is a piece of string?” It all depends on the time frame of the project, the director’s mood, and the amount of producer and network approvals needed. 

Sometimes the director approves and they're just waiting for some guy sitting in an office somewhere in Burbank to sign off. 

Recently I was casting an HBO pilot and one of our actors was told that she would  hear from HBO with an offer. Well she waited ten long days and gave up other work in the meantime. Finally I called HBO, and the problem was simply that the business affairs office hadn't moved it off their desk yet. 

Remember that priorities are different on the other side of the deal

My advice — once you’ve done your audition, put it out of your mind, and develop a hobby …

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Brain Research and Creativity

Researcher Charles Limb scanned the brains of jazz musicians, learned that the part of the brain that is worried about being "correct" and not making mistakes has to be switched off in order for the creative part of the brain to switch on. 

So the more an worry about mistakes at an audition, the less creative she is likely to be. 

We don't care if you say the lines perfectly, we want to see you soar!

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IMDB- We Love It! We hate it!: Please share your IMDB stories with me

I’m currently working on the chapter in my new book about IMDB.

Speaking for myself, I have a love/hate relationship with it. On the positive side, it’s an invaluable resource that I use every day to look up actors, directors and producers who I’m working with. In fact to say it’s an “invaluable resource,” is an understatement. It’s more like the bible. I even look up my OWN credits sometimes to see what I’ve done.

On the other hand, it’s about as user-friendly as the Czech postal system on a very bad day, and it can’t with any certainty be relied on as an infallible source of accurate information, even though it wants to be.

I almost cried when I saw the completely inaccurate IMDB cast list for Child 44, a film which Nina Gold and I cast. It’s creepy too because the names they have up there are from an earlier version of a suggested cast list which we used in the process of casting. So that means that there was some IMDB spy who …

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I was happy to have the opportunity to speak on a panel at Surviving Actors last week-end in London, with (actor/author) Robert Ostlere, and (Theatre Casting Director) Neil Rutherford. Geoff Colman (Head of Central School of Speech) moderated the panel very well and I’d like to further elaborate on what we discussed about headshots here.

At the panel, I emphasized the importance of creating an effective headshot that works in thumbnail size. Remember that when we post a breakdown on Spotlight, the first image we see is in miniature. If it catches our eye, we will enlarge it.

What makes a good headshot?

It needs to:

-       look exactly like you on a good day

-       be current

-       be active in the eyes with you looking straight into camera

-       look neutral but suggest archetypes for casting


The …

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