I first met Jason La Padura in New York almost 30 years ago. I had my first job as a Casting Director at an Off-Off Broadway theatre company called Manhattan Punch Line. Jason's partner, Gary Murphy, was the PR person for MPL and we had cubicles next to each other. Jason was quickly establishing himself as a theatre Casting Director and, with his casting partner, Stanley Soble, transitioned with ease into casting television. He eventually moved to Los Angeles and with Natalie Hart formed La Padura/Hart Casting.
His most high-profile job was casting all three High School Musical films. But La Padura/Hart have also cast such successful television shows as Heros, Touch, numerous pilots, and movies over the years. He also had the privilege and fun of being a judge for The Miss America Pageant!
Jason came to talk to one of my Audition Workshops and he gave the class so much valuable information, that I have made this into a Three-Part Video Series.
Jason La Padura Audition Tips Highlights:
Holly: If you have pre-read an actor in an audition and you call them back for Producers for a project, what should their goal be in that callback and what are you looking for from that actor?
Jason: I don't want them to do one thing different from what they've already done! You can go further into the character, but don't change the basic plan. If you read it and say, "Oh wow, I know what I could do with this"…be careful of that. Don't change it all up and say, "If they thought that was great, wait till they see this!"
Holly: One of the biggest questions I get in my classes is that actors wonder if they have to have the sides memorized for that first pre-read with the Casting Director.
Jason: I don't care if you're still on book (reading the sides) when reading for me. However, when you are coming in for Producers you have to be off book (memorized).
Holly: A lot of "testing" at the Network is done on camera now.
Jason: Yes, both the Studios and Networks like to watch actors on tape now. It's more comfortable and, after all, it is helpful to see what the actor looks like on screen. An actor can photograph very differently from how they look in the room.
Holly: Do you ever call an actor in to audition who is non-Union?
Jason: Yes. On Touch I was bringing in non-Union actors all the time. I needed actors with a special skill set on that show that I couldn't always find easily. And now with the merger of SAG and AFTRA bringing in non-Union actors isn't as complicated.
Holly: What if an actor is not represented by an agent but sends a picture and resume to you. Do you ever call them in?
Jason: It's hard. It's a very tough town. There are 130,000 members of SAG/AFTRA. I cast this movie, Amish Grace that was shooting between Thanksgiving and Christmas in Los Angeles, which is very unusual these days. Everyone wanted to do it because of Christmas money and also to catch that last opportunity to make their insurance, even though we were only paying scale. I had 29 roles in the movie and we had 31,000 submissions.
That's what you are up against. So, you have to have an agent and or a manager. Preferably both. You need as many people on your team pushing you and making phone calls and being pesky.
Again, when I was casting Touch, I needed people who spoke Russian, so I was looking at anyone who had that specific skill set. But generally, no.
Holly: How do you like people to keep in touch with you?
Jason: Postcards. There is a great company out there called Amazing Mail. You can customize your postcards and order as many as you need. I don't really care what it says on the postcard. It's the fact that the postcard is coming through on a regular basis and it reminds me that you are out there!
Look for Part 3 of this interview in October, 2013. Actors in Holly's Audition Workshop will be asking Jason lots of great questions! Plus: Stay tuned for Jason's Audition Pet Peeves!
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