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  • Connor Sullivan

A Commercial in JAPAN!

It's August 24th. The twists and turns of life take us to places we absolutely never thought we'd go. In that vain, I am out on the road driving from Aurora, Illinois to Pella, Iowa. It is about a four hour drive. As I'm driving, my phone rings and I see it's my agent. She usually calls when either something good has happened or something urgent needs to be taken care of. Huh. Maybe there will be good news. I answer.

"Hello?"

"YOU ARE GOING TO JAPAN!"

"...are you serious!?" This is really all that I can think to say in response. What the heck do you say to news like that? and can you imagine if she was kidding? what a great idea for a sketch. giving people amazing (very plausible) news... only to reveal it is just a joke.

"Yes. You leave from LAX on Monday. I am getting more information now and I'll have some things for you to sign very soon so check your email."

"Wow! Thank you so much!"


Backstory Time...

I am very lucky that I have an amazing agent. She works really hard to get me auditions and I make sure to attend them. They take me all over the LA area and often take a long time to get to. The stereotype of LA traffic is 100% true. It is always bad. Even at midnight there is still traffic. It makes no logical sense and can be very frustrating when you are in a hurry to get somewhere. I don't make excuses about why I can't attend my auditions. I confirm and then I attend them. I adjust anything that was at the time in my schedule. My motto for the past two years has been "just show up."

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(Almost) all commercial auditions go a very similar way. You arrive to the location of said audition, you sign in either on a piece of paper or sometimes it's fancy and there is a computer or iPad. Then you wait in the waiting area. Waiting isn't usually more than say 20(ish) minutes on the long side. Then someone calls out your first name. Almost always accompanied with a question mark.

"Connor...?"

"Right here."let's do this.

Then you walk into a room that has anywhere from 1 to 8 people. First initial auditions are usually just one person. They check you in on their computer and give you the layout of how this audition is going to go. Example:

ok for this, you are going to start over there off camera. when i say action, walk over and see your family off in the distance. you love your family. so smile. but not too big. this isn't a cartoon. then your family leaves and you are left alone, so give me a brief moment of both despair and confusion. then you look down and what you are holding is the answer to all your problems. examine it. really look it over. make sure to keep your eyeline up so camera can capture your expressions. then in the most subtle of ways take your shirt off, give us your favorite dance move, three takes to camera, and then exit the frame. any questions?

No, I don't think I have any questions. Let's do it.

...

I have really become comfortable with the awkward nature of these types of auditions. I am going to give into the moment and then see what happens. I have learned how to lean into the uncomfortability and just have some fun. That seems to work the best for me. Just go for it. Make it a choice to just lean into the directions with some energy and commitment. and yes, that has also resulted in some catastrophic failures!

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Back to the audition rooms... If the initial audition goes well in all the various ways that are both in and out of my control, then there is the possibility of a callback! Woohoo!! The callback experience is going to require a more in depth look in another post. I started having success in callbacks after my brain shifted from "booking the job" to "being present in the room and making a real genuine connection." That has been my secret. Just be a human that the creative team wouldn't mind spending some time with.

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For this shoot, we signed quite an extensive nondisclosure agreement so I cannot really say anything about it. But a link to the final version is currently on my website. Take a look and know that shooting the ad was an incredible experience. I am so lucky!


Ultimately, in this world and in this industry, I would rather be remembered as the nicest person than as the most talented. I cannot control the way my talent is perceived but I can control how I treat others. And sometimes, if you're lucky, being nice and showing up gets you a trip to Japan to shoot a commercial.




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© 2019 by Connor Sullivan