THE ACTOR'S SLATE

THE ACTOR'S  SLATE - THE PAGE WHERE ACTORS CAN VISIT AND FIND INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO THEIR NEEDS INCLUDING TIPS, TRICKS, AND ADVICE FROM DR. MEL CAUDLE, PRODUCER, SCREENWRITER, AUTHOR, AND REALITY SHOW CREATOR AUDITIONS, CASTING, HONING THEIR CRAFT.  Visit often as this page is updated frequently. 


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Actors Without Demo Reels:  What's up With That?
Slating Guide
Putting Your Best Face Forward
Your Actor Resume
The Real Job of an Actor
Tips and Tricks of Video Auditions
Who's Laughing Now

ACTORS WITHOUT DEMO REELS:  WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?

By Dr. Melissa Caudle

Do you want to be taken seriously as an actor? Of course you do. That is why you have spent hundreds of dollars on your head shots, countless hours in acting classes, seeking an agent, and obtaining and going to auditions. Then why don't you have an acting reel?

During the online audition process for my new project The Keystroke Killer, I was shocked at how many actors who submitted for roles didn't have an acting reel or at the very minimum a reel with a monologue.  This is only an estimate, but out of the 2500 actors you joined The Keystroke Killer Fan Site, less than 100 acting reels were submitted.  There could be a variety of reasons for that, but still, your acting reel is very important.  Why?  Because you acting reel demonstrates to agents, casting directors, directors, and producers the variety of acting skill and characters that you are able to portray.  

Simply having a reel, doesn't mean you'll get more jobs.  However, it will help you to secure them.  And, if you are wondering, there are some really good acting reels and some really bad ones.  What do you need to do to make sure that your acting reel does the job in which it is intended to do?  Follow these guidelines and you will be well on your way to creating your actor's reel that catches our attention.
  1. Do your homework.  Watch as many acting reels on YouTube and Vimeo that you can.  Keep a notebook handy and write down your thoughts and impressions on each one.  Be sure to jot down what you really liked and didn't like about a reel and ask yourself, did it hold your interest until the end.  If it did, watch it again and look for reasons why.  Pretty soon, you'll have a general idea of what you like and don't like for your own reel.
  2. Make a decision of who is going to edit your reel.  If you have the skills and equipment to edit your own, then by all means do it yourself.  Just make sure that the finished project is professional looking. If you don't have the skills, research editors. There are as many good editors out there as there are bad ones.  Ask for their own demo reel or to let you see samples of demo reels they have done for other actors.
  3. Assemble your footage that you want to include in your demo reel.  Include your recent work as well as your past work.
  4. When editing your footage, make sure that you have the editor start your reel with YOUR FACE.  That is the first thing that a producer, casting director, and director wants to see.  Why?  We look first to see if your physical traits match the description of the character.
  5. DON'T start your reel with a black screen and text.  We want your face.  (That is why number four is so important).  Also, since most scenes in a demo reel contain more than one actor, by putting your face first it allows viewers to know which actor they are supposed to be looking at. It is important that you make it completely obvious to the director and producers that it is your reel and not one of the other actors.  A huge tip that I like to do when editing actor's reels is to grab a still from the first scene of a close up of the actor to use as the "FACE" in the beginning of the video. That way, it is obvious as to what actor the reel is for.
  6. Remember, that your reel is a reel and not an audition tape, therefore; there is no need to slate.
  7. Put your best footage first.  Avoid the thinking pattern that you will save the best for last. Your goal is to catch the viewers attention from the get go. Otherwise, they may turn it off and never get to the good footage.  When deciding what is your best footage, the footage that best demonstrates your acting ability, is professionally shot or from a high concept feature film, is usually best.
  8. Your goal is to market yourself in your demo reel and not another actor. If you aren't featured enough, have your editor "Edit" out the other person as much as possible, and use more shots of you by layering your footage from that scene.  For example, lets say, the footage shows you listening to the other character, then shows you talking, then back to the other acting talking.  Instead of having the other actor talking, have your editor copy the footage of you listening on top of that so we see you again.
  9. Keep your reel less than five minutes.  Actually, three minutes is best.  This means you do not have to include every thing you have acted in.  Instead, use only those parts that feature you and presents you as the actor.
  10. DON'T use copyright music or the latest hit song if you have a picture montage. This violates copyright infringement and serves no purpose.  If music is needed, ask your editor to use royalty free music or find one on the internet that you can download and use for a small royalty fee.
  11. Once you reel has been edited, make copies.  DOUBLE CHECK each copy on several different computers to make sure they work.  There is nothing more frustrating for a casting director or director to want to watch an actor's reel only to discover it is not on the disc supplied by the actor.
  12. Every copy of your reel, the disc and not just the case, MUST BE labeled with your name, your agent's name, and contact information. Often, in the fast and furious world of casting, discs get misplaced from the cases. That is why it is important to label your disc as well.  Also on the disc itself, have your editor place a thumbnail of your head shot that matches the one on your resume.

JUNE 21, 2012

SLATING GUIDE
By Dr. Mel Caudle

I can't begin to tell you how many times I am asked by actors, "What should I include when slating during face-to-face auditions and video auditions?"  As simple of a question this is, you might be surprised at the number of actors that don't know.  So, here it is straight from a producer who has watched more than 10,000 auditions over the last five years.  This is what you need to do and how to slate.  

There is only one difference between the face-to-face auditions and video auditions - when you begin your video audition focus on yourself from the top of your head to the tip of your toes which is translated into a full body shot.  This of course isn't necessary for a face-to-face audition because you are standing in front of the producer, director, and casting director.  From that point forward, everything else is the same.

  1. Begin your slate by introducing yourself by saying, "I am ________________ represented by the _____________________ agency.  You can reach them at ___________________phone number and their email address is __________________________.  I am auditioning for the role of _________________."

If you don't have an agent, say, "I am unrepresented."

After you slate, pause for a couple of seconds and then begin your scene.That is how easy slating is for an actor.

PUTTING YOUR BEST FACE FORWARD
By Dr. Mel Caudle and Robby Cook Stroud

Taking care of yourself as an actor is very important.  I am not referring to your effort that you put forth in honing your craft, such as acting classes.  Rather, I am talking about areas of your life which includes your mental and physical health.  Often, as actors, you will focus on your diet and your physical appearance with exercise; however, you will overlook what you can do for your appearance- basic skin care.  Women tend to take better care of their skin than men.  But, we all need to.  The older you get, I am now 54, the more important it will become to you.  And the truth is, if you start skin care at a younger age, the benefits as you mature will pay off.

So, what does this have to do with acting?  Your face is your ultimate marketing tool along with your ability to act.  Therefore, take care of it now while you have the chance.  I don't endorse products unless I use them and believe in them. I recently came across a product that I am so excited about.  In fact, Robby is the one that introduced me to it.  She called me and said, 'You've got to try this product."  

At first, I was leery.  I am very cautious about using products on my face.  For years, I used Signature A by Adriane.  I thought it was the best product on the market.  That was until I was introduced to Nerium International and their skin care product.  Skin Care Specialist, Caylen Ray, introduced Robby to the product.  And, after only four weeks of using the product, the results were amazing.  It's one thing when you see a presentation video, but when you see the result on someone you have known for over twenty years, the results speak for themselves.  "I can't believe the difference in my skin," Robby said. I couldn't believe it either.  I questioned how one product could make such a drastic difference.  According to skin care specialist Caylen Ray, "It's like having Botox in a bottle."

I am going to leave out all the boring scientific stuff, but it is scientifically researched and proven effective as an age-defying treatment.  The basic component of Nerium comes from the Nerium oleander plant.  The research, from a third-party clinical trial, proved that the treatment dramatically reduced the appearance of:
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Uneven skin texture
  • Enlarged pores
  • Damage from the sun.
Nerium International is always getting noticed by renowned scientists and medical professionals such as J. Peter Nettlefield and Dr. Donald Baxter, surgeon and medical advisor, who says, " I can tell you that no one has with the potential of this product.  Dr. Nannette Crow, medical director of the Anti-Aging Spa says, "Most products you have to use for months before you start seeing  in your skin.  With Nerium I felt like it was a few days."  Professor Emeritus from the University of Texas, Dr. Robert Newman states the the scientific research is undeniable.  The product is real science with real potential.  

What I love about this product is that it is hassle free to use.  It is not a system with multiple products that loop you in to purchasing product on top of product.  It comes in a single bottle and that is all you need.  I really like it because I can wash my face at night, and then put it on my face.  While I am sleeping, it does the work.  Just look at my pictures on my Facebook page and my blog.  How many of you didn't think that I am a grandmother of three and that my oldest daughter is 32 years-old?    I have never once had any plastic surgery, Botox treatments, or anything else to alter or adjust my skin.  The results speak for themselves. 

Enough about the science aspect of Nerium.  Where do you get the product so you can start the best skin care that will allow you to put you best face forward?  I've made it easy for you.  Contact Caylen Ray, Skin Care Specialist with Nerium at 337-578-4353.  Tell her that Dr. Mel referred you and you'll get special treatment.  And, remember, Nerium is for both men and woman.  Do yourself a favor and make that call.  You only have one face - take care of it.

YOUR ACTOR RESUME

By Dr. Mel Caudle

Have you ever wondered how important your acting resume is?  If you haven't, maybe you ought to.  Your resume is one of two marketing tools that represents you as an actor.  Your resume plays an instrumental role in casting for a couple of reasons.

  1. It is a reminder to producers, directors, and casting personnel, of your likeness when they begin to make decisions.
  2. The information on your resume provides the key contact information to the powers at be.
  3. It is a simple way to express your qualifications and specialty skills.
  4. Provides the wardrobe department (after you are cast) with your measurements and sizes.
Since your resume is important, an actor needs to spend time making sure that it is eye-catching and represents who you are.  For instance, if you are a fun loving individual, you wouldn't want to use what I call a stoic format. Rather, you would want to choose a style that is more to your personality.  Don't go overboard with fancy fonts and colors, but choose your template carefully.  By researching online, you can find several free templates available that should fit your needs.  Listed below are some tips when creating your resume.

  • Use a template found online.
  • Include your name, and agent and/or manager's contact information
  • Be honest.  Only put work on there that you actually did.
  • Don't include your extra work.
  • List your specialty skills.
  • List your measurements, hair color, eye color, shoe size, and clothing size.
  • Punctuate correctly.
  • Make sure you spell check for an error free resume.
Listed below are several A-List Actors resumes that demonstrates the different styles.  As you will discover, there isn't just one way.  The important idea is to provide the information producers, directors, and casting directors need.




JUNE 14, 2012

THE REAL JOB OF AN ACTOR

By Christian Stokes
Actor and Acting Coach

Hi. My name is Christian Stokes. I am a professional actor! I act for a living. Actually, that’s not entirely true. The fact is I actually audition for a living! THAT is really what I do!

If you really think about it, acting and auditioning are not really the same thing. The two are still related of course, but they are more like kissing cousins than anything else. How? You can be a good actor but never have the chance to showcase your talent if you aren’t very good at auditioning. On the other hand, being a good actor is almost always an important part of being a great “Auditoner.” It is the old-fashioned, which came first the chicken or the egg; but, in this case, which came first, the actor or the “Auditioner?”
  
“Whoa. Whoa. Wait! What are you saying exactly, Christian?”

Hold on. Here it comes! I contend our primary job as actors is not acting, but rather auditioning - a process chocked full of separate quirks, challenges, and techniques. As actors we must answer numerous questions in order to reach our goal.

·         What should I wear?

·         What is my eye line if there are multiple characters?

·         Should I sit or stand?

·         Should I have the script in my hand or not?

·         How do I create the boldest most unique audition at every read?

·         What do I do about nerves?

·         To memorize lines or not to memorize them as scripted?

These questions demand our individual attention as well as demand answers.


We spend so much time as actors perfecting our craft we sometimes neglect to acquire the skills which help us to be able to use our craft in the first place - the audition technique!

Before performing around the world for years, before performing opposite an Academy Award winning actress, before eight years in Hollywood, and way before coming to Louisiana, I  began my acting training at a university in Texas. One day, I came to the conclusion that I was being trained to be an acting teacher.

I didn’t want to be an acting teacher. I was an actor and that was that!

I felt I was not being prepared for a career in the film and television markets. Oh sure, I had learned some very valuable tools in acting techniques (and I still very much contend that the best actors are forged on the stage), but nobody had taught me a single thing about how to audition! Not one teacher nor my texts mentioned anything about a head shot or a resume. I was completely ignorant. I had become a pretty good little stage actor, but I had no clue what I was supposed to do in the real acting world as a professional actor. I was completely naive on the subject of “Show Business!”  The end result was harsh -  I fell flat on my face. My first “Real World” audition slammed me in my face and woke me up to the harsh reality I needed training and not education, especially in the auditioning process.  And, almost two decades later, I find myself sharing my learning curve with others so they may avoid a similar fate.

In the 19 years since that first little embarrassment, I have gobbled up every little nugget I could find when it came to show business and mastering the audition process. I have discovered along the way that many actors actually know very little about the “Business of Show Business.” It amazes me that few actors even realize the vast differences between an audition and a scene.  And I’m even more amazed by how few actors actually spend time learning the skills required to ace that audition room experience in the first place and avoid the pitfalls of disaster.
  
Knowledge is power! Likewise, knowledge breeds a certain kind of confidence.  And, like it or not, - confidence of an actor is king in this business!  Your business.  If you don’t believe me, ask Dr. Mel Caudle, producer and creator of The Keystroke Killer.  “I can immediately tell which actors who submitted online auditions have the power of knowledge and who doesn’t,” she said.  “Those who have nailed our auditions, prove to have training and not just the experience to back them up. They bring to me, sight unseen, a natural confidence that makes the difference in their audition.  I call it the believability factor.”

Creating a believable character in a room with a camera, a casting director, and a monotone reader for an audition is totally different from an actor being on set and being completely immersed in the scene.

The audition is the gateway to the job and the ultimate goal of acting. The actor must master the audition room to compete in today’s market. Now producers, directors, and casting directors can reach across the globe to discover the talent they want for their film and television projects.  They are not limited by proximity.  They have the entire world of the acting community to tap into as a resource with the Internet and online auditioning process.  It took me years to reach this conclusion, but after witnessing the online process first-hand for The Keystroke Killer, as an actor, I concluded my competition doesn’t only reside in my market, but every market.  Therefore, not only do I have to be the best of the best in my city, but in yours too to nail the audition and be booked for the job.  With online auditions, the need to acquire skills and adapt to the process will be your survival as an actor.  I guess Darwin’s theory of adaptation holds well in our industry.

Do you want to hear something funny? Because of my crazy revelations, something strange happened on the way to my acting career. I wound up becoming an actor who also teaches audition techniques! So, I guess you can say I became a teacher. Surprised? Yeah, so was I! But as Alanis Morisette says, “Life has a funny, funny way of helping you out!,” I have become a better actor because of my time spent educating other actors on how to be a hit in the audition room.  “There is definitely a need for actors to take classes on nailing the audition process,” Caudle says.  “I watched numerous online auditions from actors, that if they would have only taken a specific class on auditioning techniques, I believe I would have seen a difference.  In this business, you have to stay on top of your best “A” game.  That means classes.”

I believe it is a known fact that the best gigs go to those who understand how to audition properly and audition with confidence. If you really want to nail your next audition, invest in yourself and find time to take an audition techniques class. If you can’t afford a class like mine or others like it, at the very least meet with other actors and film yourselves while working with audition sides. Listed below are some additional tips for you to hone your craft.

  1.   Review your performance by taping them and be your own “Judge.
  2.  Make bold choices during your sessions and discuss how they translate to film.
  3. Get together with your peers and perform sides.
  4. Tape them, and critique each other.
  5. In the privacy of your own acting team and living rooms is the time to experiment, not in the audition.
  6. Don't ever let casting directors and producers catch you acting. Learn how to transcend from acting like a character and becoming that character.
  7. Dig deep into character and find the roots of the being.  Know who that character is long before you utter your first dialogue word.
  8. Strengthen your audition muscle (you) and take that audition room by storm.
You deserve to become the best actor there is. You’ve worked hard for the opportunity and you have a dream. Don’t let the moment pass you by. Leave a lasting first impression with your audition and create relationships with casting associates that will last a career. It’s your Show. Now show them you mean Business.

Go out there and break some legs. I’ll see you on the sign-in sheet!

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON CHRISTIAN STOKES AND THE L.A. STANDARD

Christian Stokes
The L.A. Standard Acting Workshops and Classes
Note:  Christian Stokes is taking his workshop L.A. Standard Acting Workshops and Classes on the road to various cities in America.  He has personally offered a 10% discount to the cost of the workshop for anyone saying that Dr. Mel referred you or that you read about his workshop in Dr. Mel’s Message.  How cool is that?  That is like putting money in your pocket or at least not taking it out of your pocket.

ARCHIVES

JUNE 7, 2012


TIPS AND TRICKS OF RECORDING YOUR AUDITION

By Dr. Mel Caudle

There is an art to producing your own audition video for online submissions.  However, you don't have to fear that you aren't a cameraman, editor, or a director of photography.  As producers and casting directors, we don't expect actors to be experts in the process of making a video.  So relax.  

Additionally, you don't need to spend a great deal of money on cameras, film gadgets, or invest in editing software.  Most actors, nowadays, have at their disposal everything they need to produce their submission video.  Actors can use:
  • Cell phone camera
  • IPAD camera
  • Web camera on their computer                           
  • A flip camera
  • A consumer video camera
Research reveals that more than 92% of people from the ages of 16 - 55 own a cell phone.  So, the likelihood of you not having one is slim.  It is more likely that you don't know how to use the video camera application on your phone.  Therefore, take the time and investigate whether your phone has this application and learn how to use it.  If not, go to your Market area your cell phone service company provides and download an application.  I found plenty of free applications for every cell phone company.  This idea holds for your IPADs as well.  Lots of free applications that will meet your needs.

Flip video cameras can be purchased for less than $100 dollars and up. I purchased one for $79 dollars that was HD 1080 dpi and the quality is fantastic.  Do your research and you can find both new and used camcorders for this purpose.  It really depends on the amount of money you are willing or able to spend.   The way I look at it, that is a small investment toward your acting career.  Therefore, if that means going without a specialized cup of coffee at a coffee shop, or instead of buying a soda with your hamburger and bringing a thermos from home with juice or water it in for awhile to save up the money, then do that.  That money adds up fast if you put away your savings and not spend it until you purchase your camera.  Believe it or not, I have a "Money Jar" that sits on my credenza behind my desk.  Every time I sit at my desk, I check my  purse for loose change and sometimes even a dollar bill or two.  I put it in that jar.  I bought my first camcorder this way - a Canon XL1.    If it is important to you and your career, you will find a way.


So, how do you film yourself when no one else is available?  If you don't have a tripod, ask a friend to film your audition using your phone camera or as I demonstrated recently to a friend, prop your cell phone up high enough to capture your own audition.  

I have an actor colleague who has a special cell phone case they use for this purpose.  He attaches Velcro to the back of the cell case and then glued the matching part of the Velcro to a cheap small picture frame so it can be mounted onto the wall. That way, he doesn't ruin the wall by attaching the Velcro directly to it.  When not in use, he stores his special mount frame in his Chester drawer and hangs a picture up on the nail.  Then, when he needs to record an audition, he removes the picture that normally hangs on the wall, and hangs the Velcro "camera mount" on the wall and attaches his cell phone.  The only thing left is for him to press the record button and enter into frame and record his audition.

Another alternative is to purchase a Cell Phone Mount.  There are several available on the market for under $30 dollars.  The one I love is the RAM Mount Universal X-Grip Cell Phone Holder with the 1" ball.  It uses suction cups to mount to any hard surface and attaches your cell phone.  Another favorite of mine is the PanaVise 727-06-6 Slimline Series Pedestal Cell Phone Mount.  Also, many of the cell phone mounts, made for cars, can easily be adapted for placement on a bookshelf in your home, your desk, or on a table top.  Just use your thinking caps and improvise.




These are simple and inexpensive ways to record your own audition where you, the actor, has control without spending a fortune on a camera or a tripod.  Here is a perfect example of Susie Labry's audition recorded using an IPAD.  Direct lighting in the room was used as well as the on-board microphone included with the IPAD.  A free editing software from the market area was used to edit to include the titles.


Waitress Audition for The Keystroke Killer - Susie Labry.

    

The moral of this story is not to make up an excuse as to why you can't video your own auditions.  If there is a will there is a way.



Before you begin taping:

  • Check out the lighting where you’re making your tape  - don’t stand w/your back to the window. The light should be in front of you.
  • Mark your spot on the floor where you need to stand or if you choose to sit, place your chair where it needs to be in the frame once you press the record button, you will be in frame.  
  • Frame yourself correctly:  1. You should be in the center of the frame, 2. Bottom of the frame should be at the center of your chest, 3. Top of the frame should be barely above the top of your head.
  • Don't leave to much white area above your head.  
  • Don’t walk out of the frame of the camera while recording.  We need to be able to see you.
  • It is best to stand in front of a solid background: e.g. a wall, a tapestry, a sheet, a drape, etc.   NOTE: It is imperative that the background be a SOLID COLOR. No patterns be used for slating.  The reason is to really showcase you without distractions.  However, you can use a setting for the scene or shoot against a greenscreen and edit in a background.   (Refer to the article on the page The Back Lot for information on how to make a greenscreen for less than $10 dollars.)
  • Make sure there is no background noise that will interfere with our ability to hear your character.
  • Have your reader speak lower than you.  It is you we need to focus on and not your reader.
  • Prior to the recording, please make sure the camera and microphone are ready to go. You can do this by setting it up, shooting yourself and then playing it back to make sure you are framed correctly and the audio is working.
  • Don't forget to slate at the beginning of your audition tape.  Make sure you speak clearly and if you have an unusual name or you spell your name creatively, be sure to spell it out when you slate.

GETTING MORE CREATIVE

More and more actors are getting more technologically suave and learning to edit their auditions.  There is nothing wrong with this as it is important that a casting director, producer, and director not only know your name and your agents, but how to contact you.  If you don't have an editing software system to add these important elements be sure to include them when you slate.

To place your contact information or your agents, often your desktop or laptop computers come with editing programs like Imovie Magic.  These programs are perfect editing software for your audition purposes.  But, if you want to get a little more fancy with your auditions, you might want to invest in an editing software system.  Professional editors in our industry lean toward Final Cut Pro.  However, that isn't necessary.  I have edited all of my documentary films, reality shows, and short films using Pinnacle System.  I started out years ago with Pinnacle Studio 10 and worked my way up to Avid.  An Emmy award winning filmmaker friend of mine uses nothing but Sony Vegas (less than $80) to edit his documentaries.  Therefore, if you want to get a little more creative with your editing, investigate some great software for this purpose.


WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?

By Samuel F. Goldstein
AP Press

Los Angeles - June 5, 2012 - One of the most important phone call or E-mail an actor receives today is hearing or reading, "You have a callback."  At first, an actor is so elated they may even start to jump up and down, scream, cry, or are so stunned they can't move or speak.  Nonetheless, it is a moment of excitement for the actor. 

The Keystroke Killer started as a short film that went viral on You Tube in 2009

THE KEYSTROKE KILLER FAN SITE
At present, there are almost 2500 actors signed up on a Facebook site called THE KEYSTROKE KILLER FAN SITE who are anxiously awaiting the news of whether they have received a callback for face-to-face auditions with creator, screenwriter, and producer Dr. Melissa Caudle, for the pilot television series The Keystroke Killer.  

"We started the online audition process for the television pilot series the last part of April in 2012,"  Caudle says.  "We really didn't want to push hard until we were ready to receive auditions.  That was in the beginning of May.  Then they started pouring in." That was then and today the site boasts almost 2500 members and more than 3100 online auditions for a variety of principle and supporting roles. 

The Facebook site continued to grow throughout the month.  "At first we were so excited when we signed up the first 300 actors in our community,"  Robby Cook Stroud, executive administrative director of On the Lot Productions, LLC, said.  "I told Dr. Mel the site was catching on.  She just laughed and told me that I haven't seen anything yet."

www.ontheltotproductions.com


Stephen Martin
1000th Member
Excitement grew for everyone, not just for Caudle and Stroud, on the site to see who was going to be the 1,000th member to join.  "To us that was a monumental moment,"  Caudle says.  "We came up with the idea to give away a special award for the 1,000 member - an hour one-on-one coaching session with Dr. Mel and a copy of the collector's edition of the original short film script of The Keystroke Killer that started this sensation in the first place," Stroud says.  "I never realized how many people wanted to be the 1,000th member to get these awards,"  Caudle says.  It is beyond me as to why Caudle feels this way.  She already has a fan base from her books and from the short film version and she is a sought after acting coach.  Just weeks before a coaching session with Caudle during a silent auction soared into the hundreds at a private benefit for musician friend Gypsy Elise.  

"Tymothy Wyant and Challa Sabre, actor members of the site, teased in their posts about un-joining at the right moment so they could rejoin to be the 1,000th member, " Caudle says.  "At the time I was chatting with member Ian Mercer, another blogger and author, as well as on Skype in a group chat with the producers.  Everyone was waiting to see you this person would be."  Neither Wyant or Sabre removed themselves from the site, as Stephen Martin, the 1000th member, was added.  Martin received the award.  "The funniest thing about the whole thing with the 1,000th member is that Stephen didn't know about the prize," Caudle says.  "Our KSK team thought I should be the one to join him up and make contact.  When I did, he was shocked.  He said he had never won anything before."  Martin wrote on the Facebook site, "I had great timing."

(click on link to view)



According to Caudle, it took a little over a week for her and Stephen to connect.  "Between my time of producing three reality shows, a web series, and the Keystroke Killer, and his work, we played Skype tag," Caudle says.  "We finally made the connection and spent more than an hour of me analyzing his audition he had already submitted as well as me providing critique and insight to the scenes he hadn't put on tape yet.  He brought his "A" game to the table resulting in a powerful audition worthy of making the callback.  I asked Caudle if this gives Martin an advantage over the other actors auditioning for the principle role of Matthew.  "If you mean do we know who he is, that does give him an advantage, but if your asking me if that makes him our first and automatic choice, then no,"  Caudle says.  "Everyone has equal opportunity to get a callback and to claim their grand prize role.  Not even the original short film cast are automatic.  Frankly, I can't wait until we can move forward and make the announcement of the callback list and then move forward to the face-to-face auditions.  The casting team will go into the callbacks with our favorites in mind and will want everyone to outshine the other.  This means we will find a dynamic cast."  

Jamie Alyson from the original Keystroke Killer
Caudle isn't concerned about finding the right actor for the roles for The Keystroke Killer because  this isn't the inauguration of online casting for On the Lot Productions, LLC.  Her first-time casting a project  using this method also proved to be successful.  "I've used this process to cast a short film and quickly discovered how much I liked the process," Caudle says.  "For one thing, I am able to see the actors as the characters long before I meet them.  It really makes a difference.  I'm not influenced by personalities or whether an actor knows one of the producers.  The online audition is just them and me."  Executive producer, Mark Freehelm agrees.  "I am a very busy man,"  Freehelm states. "I don't have time to run around the country auditioning actors, I need to focus on the money matters of the series, but I still must have input into who is cast.  The freedom of watching these auditions on my time is powerful.  I can go home from the office at night, get a glass of wine, and turn on my 52-inch television connected to my Facebook account on Netflix.  Some of the auditions were so powerful and well-made I felt like I was watching parts of a movie."  For Freehelm, there is no other way to conduct first-round auditions.  "It saves us time and money," Freehelm says. 


  

Dr. Mel Caudle watching online auditions at her office.
Stroud agrees with Caudle and Freehelm.  "We live in an era where the Internet is the king of information,"  Robby says, "Why wouldn't we use it to our advantage?"  For Caudle, it is a "no brainer."  Prior to the online audition process, actors were limited to audition for roles out of state. "Now, we can see an actor no matter where they live," Caudle says.  "We're not limited with using locals for a project.  We have at the tip of our fingers actors who otherwise we would have never gotten to audition.  It is a beautiful thing."  "I love being able to sit at my desk and watch these,"  Stroud says.  "I can take notes on the performances, re-watch any that I want, and not burn up gas by going to the office.  It gives a new meaning to working from home,"

It hasn't been all roses for Caudle and Stroud with the online process.  Some people were not only skeptics but also tried to put a thorn in their sides.  "In the first couple of weeks I received numerous phone calls from talent agents and managers requesting that their actors bypass the online process,"  Caudle says she heard every excuse in the book as to why an agent did not want their client to follow the online casting procedures we set forth.  One agent told Caudle their client didn't feel comfortable being seen on our computer monitors because they look better in person than on camera.  "I laughed so hard I cried," Caudle says.  "I remember sitting and thinking, why on earth would I cast an actor that doesn't come across on screen and their agent had the audacity or stupidity to tell me this.  What was he thinking?"  Another reason was just as humorous Caudle stated.  "This particular agent told me that I was making a fool out of myself because I would only get the really bad actor," Caudle says.  "He continued to say that no quality actor would ever audition this way and that my team and production company wasn't worth a grain of salt.  Really?  That statement really makes me want to cast their client.  Again, I laughed. as a representative from Tyler Perry was waiting on the line to talk to me on the ins and outs of casting online." The opposite is true of the aforementioned statement.  

Most of the auditions are very good and many talented and gifted actors have surfaced.  "Don't get me wrong," Caudle says.  "There are some really, really bad auditions.  But when they are good, they are fantastic."  I asked Caudle if she could list some of the outstanding performances from the top of her head.  She grinned and shook her head indicating she could.  "Oh yes I can," Caudle says.  "But, I'm not going to tell you.  That's reserved for my member spotlight section on my blog.  You'll have to go there to find out."

Stroud was more forthcoming in relaying some of her favorites which included Jack E. Curenton and Challa Sabre's  Judas audition; Nathan Lucas and Justin Little for Matthew; Robert Fleet and Julian Grant for Dr. Garrick Angela;  Chris Swirles,  and Tymothy Wyant as Milo Evans; Billy Mayo as Landlord,  Ava St. Claire and Gino Galenti as Ima Star, Savannah Schoenecker as Meagan Montgomery; and Tina Rubin as Dr. Elizabeth Wright .  

KEYSTROKE KILLER FAN SITE MONTAGE


Is the online audition process for everyone?  Although some actors in the beginning were hesitant, or didn't know how to post, they quickly adapted.  According to Caudle, only four actors contacted her to complain.  "That could mean actors simply didn't want to complain to the creator and producer,"  Caudle says.  "I do realize that they may think that complaining to me could turn me and my team against them, but we aren't that way.  In fact, we prefer honesty and can take critique as well. Most actors are very intuitive and have gotten on board.  It's the old fashion saying, if you snooze you lose." 

Who's laughing now? The sooner actors realize that auditioning online is the wave of the future, the faster they will adapt to this new trend.  Caudle, Stroud, and the entire casting team for The Keystroke Killer are trendsetters.  In fact, numerous productions are following the same journey as indicated by Perry's representation's call.  Perry isn't the only one.  Caudle provided over 40 E-mails and telephone messages from casting directors and producers requesting information on how to conduct an online audition.  "It's time for another book," Stroud wrote on Caudle's Facebook page.  Caudle has written more than a dozen books for producers, reality show creators, and screenwriters including the series for screenwriters called Rescue the Dog that includes four individual books on how to write a beat sheet, a logline, a synopsis, and to create a one pager and additional books on creating a television series and character profiles.  Her books have been translated into five languages.  "It's time she write one on the online audition and casting process for producers and another book for actors to help them with the online audition process as well," Stroud says.  "Thank goodness Dr. Mel writes to relax."

To purchase any of these books click here.  

So, are more books coming from Caudle?  "I think I need to," Caudle says.  "I'm just about finished with my next book for reality show creators on formatting a reality show.  As soon as I'm finished with that book, I'll start on one for the online auditioning process.  I just haven't made up my mind which one I should write first - the one for producers and casting directors or the one for actors and how to nail the online audition."

If trendsetting is any indication for Caudle's decision, she better start relaxing and write those two books.  After researching the Internet, I discovered 48 audition notices that are requiring online auditions first, including audition notices from ABC, FOX, Bravo, and A&E.  It's nice to know who the real trendsetter is in this industry.


Caudle writes and publishes a blog, drmelcaudle.blogspot.com, to keep everyone updated on the callbacks for The Keystroke Killer and provides new information for actors, screenwriters, and producers.  I have a feeling it will be one of the most successful blogs in the film industry if averaging more than 8,000 pageviews a day for the first week is any indication. Dr. Mel's Message, her weekly blog, can be translated into 50 languages.  The Keystroke Killer casting team and Dr. Melissa Caudle is the team to watch has they gain ground swell and a fan base for a project they believe in.  Both Caudle and Stroud will have personally commented on every online audition by the time the callback list is complete.  "It is a 12-hour a day job just going through every audition for the second time,"  Caudle says.  "But, it is worth it.  We believe in the process and we believe in our project." They have me believing in them too.  
*****
For more information on Dr. Melissa Caudle or The Keystroke Killer project visit www.onthelotproductions.com or drmelcaudle.com  




A BLAST FROM THE PAST

Dr. Mel Caudle getting her hair done getting ready to shoot a scene in the film Failure to Launch.
Dr. Mel Caudle sitting in the famous General Lee car from the film Dukes of Hazzard shot in and around New Orleans.  Dr. Mel stayed in her 35-foot motor home on the set where the races between the Duke brothers were held for two-weeks.  "My motor home made more money a day, than I did," Dr. Mel said.

Robby Cook Stroud and Dr. Mel Caudle on the set Pizza My Heart.  They were extras in the carnival scene and freezing to death.  The scene was shot in the winter, but in the film it was summer.  So between takes and set ups they huddled together to keep warm.





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