On 5th May 2018, Casting Days is running an Acting Workshop, hosted by Casting Director, Finnian Tweed. Finnian has worked with some of the leading Casting Directors in the UK on a number of major film, theatre and TV projects. He is currently working with Gary Davy, who casts TV series such as ‘Britannia’, ‘Marcella’ and ‘Liar’, but previously worked in-house at the BBC on several award-winning shows including ‘Holby City’ and ‘Doctors’.
We wanted to catch up with Finnian before the workshop to find out a bit more about him and his career:
How did you become a Casting Director?
I read History and Politics at university and got involved with the drama society whilst there. On graduating, I decided to pursue an acting career so went and trained at Drama Centre, which was a fantastic experience. After a couple of years of being a professional actor, I decided that it wasn’t for me, but I still wanted to stay in the business, so went to work as an agent for a couple of years. I then moved across to casting, which is what I’ve been doing for the last 5 years. Both experiences of having been an actor and agent have proved invaluable in the world of casting.
You have cast for big BBC TV Series such as ‘Holby City’ and ‘Doctors’. How should an actor go about getting an audition for a BBC TV series?
Put simply, I think you have to trust your agent that they’re doing everything they can to secure you work. It’s one of the most important professional relationships you will have, so it’s crucial that you nurture it and that generally means letting them get on with their job! Make sure your Spotlight CV is up-to-date, and always tell your agent if you’re planning a holiday or not available. Always research who you will be meeting in the room. It just shows that you are interested in who you’ll be working with and that you want the job.
When looking at an actor submission, what would make you want to call a particular actor in for a face to face audition?
Previous TV experience is always useful but not a deal breaker if your experience is limited. The most important aspect is whether I feel somebody is right for the role and that is usually based on their look, their experience, or if I’ve seen them in something before. That isn’t something that can necessarily be put into words – you just know it when you see it.
Do you look at actor showreels? If yes, what makes a good showreel?
Yes I do if your agent has suggested you for a role via Spotlight. For me, a good showreel is no longer than 2-3 minutes long and gets straight to the scenes. I prefer not having to sit through a montage. It’s the scenes I’m interested in as that’s where I can really ascertain what kind of actor you are. And that’s why it’s important you have an up-to-date reel which shows your most recent credits.
In Casting, what are some dos and don’ts for actors?
It’s pretty straightforward, although I’m always amazed how many actors fall into the same traps again and again. Never be late for an audition, as not only will it probably affect your performance but it will also disrupt the schedule for the casting director. If you can, always bring a copy of the sides with you and don’t use the excuse of “I only got the sides last night and haven’t had a chance to look at them” – it’s a bad start! Only contact a casting director when you have something to invite them to (which you think is really worth their while) and just generally be nice to everyone. You never know who you’re talking to!
Do you think social media is an important tool for actors to use these days?
Yes, it can be, but my advice would be to invest your time on being the best actor possible and not get too bogged down with social media. Honing your skills, keeping busy and absorbing as much TV and theatre as possible are more valuable in the long run. That’s just my opinion – but each to their own!
Do you only look at submissions directly from agents, or do you cast your net a bit wider?
That depends entirely on the project and whether we have the time, budget and resources to undertake a wider search. I’m always open to non-Spotlight suggestions if an actor fits the brief. But it really does depend on the project.
Finally, what advice would you give to actors trying to make it into TV?
Be prepared that it can take a long time to get that all important first TV job, but with patience and perseverance you’ve got just as good a chance as any other actor.
To book tickets to our next workshop with Finnian Tweed on 5th May at 10.30am OR 2pm, just click HERE.
‘I attended Finnian Tweed’s casting for TV workshop recently and have to say I was really impressed. Finnian offered his advice and know how in a really friendly relaxed and supportive way. My own view is that (he) having been an actor and agent before the move into casting, gives him an excellent insight into what we the actor so often struggle with.’ – Steve O’Halloran – Actor
“Finnian’s workshops provide a relaxed, informative and no-nonsense insight into his approach to casting. He was patient and engaged with every actor, gave transformative and clear direction and was open and comfortable when responding to questions. As a refreshing contrast to the usual workshop format, he factored in time for participants to experiment with cold-reading, as well as presenting prepared scenes, and dedicated a good amount of time to Q&A. I’d highly recommend his workshops to actors of all experience looking to understand the casting process, or to gain useful feedback on their audition technique from a supportive industry professional.” – Kate Somerton – Actor