This past Monday, June 6th, I get the call. It’s a production company in New York City looking for a Santa to be featured in a commercial shooting Saturday, June 11th!
Here’s the thing, this is NOT unusual!
TV production often happens VERY quickly… here’s an example, on Friday, December 13th, 2019, I was booked to appear on The Late, Late Show, the shoot went well, on Tuesday, they asked if I could come back for another shoot on Wednesday, which I did. 2 TV appearances within 5 days of my initial contact.
Another example, driving home from the Meijer shoot on Friday, August 19th, 2016, at about 6:30 PM, I received a call asking if I could be at a shoot at 10 AM the following day! I was there!
When I received the call this past Monday for this Santa Claus commercial shoot, I had Santas submitted that afternoon!
Here are 5 things you should know:
- It was a multi-day shoot in the middle of New York state. Only 1-day would include Santa.
- They wanted a real bearded Santa.
- They wanted a local hire.
- They wanted a particular Santa ‘look’ for this part.
- It was Non-Union.
By the way, booking this particular Santa Claus commercial was a VERY wonderful opportunity for the Santa who would appear in it… and it was also a HUGE opportunity for the Worldwide Santa Claus Network, LLC. It was only our second time working with the New York City Entertainment Industry and the commercial was for an extremely desirable client.
I know that if I ever want to do business with them again, and I MOST DEFINITELY DO want to do business with them again, I must exceed their expectations at every turn. I must respond quicker than they’re expecting, I must provide Santas who exceed their expectations and I must NOT waste their time by sending them Santas who fall short of their expectations.
I was 100% committed to doing an EXTRAORDINARY JOB for them! By the way, I define extraordinary as “exceeding the expectations” of all involved in the project.
The shoot location was less than a 3-hour drive from New York City. There are many Santa Portrayal Artists within driving distance.
The first thing I did was go to our list of Santa Claus Profiles. (ADD YOUR PROFILE – You will need to be a member to add a profile, but you can be a FREE Member. If you are not currently a member CLICK HERE) I looked for photos that matched the description of the Santa the client was looking for.
Secondly, I made a post in our Facebook Group. If you’re not a member you can JOIN HERE
Within a couple of hours, I had many Santas who were interested, available for the shoot, and close enough to drive to the location. But that’s just the beginning…
This is where my job gets tough… determining who to submit.
In my 10 years as a “Santa actor” I’ve talked to dozens & dozens of Talent Agents & Managers. I’ve attended many ‘Industry Only’ seminars & panel discussions they’ve conducted. I’ve had lunch with them and listened to them at SAG-AFTRA lectures. Here’s what I’ve learned, ALL OF THEM agree on one thing… when it comes to booking jobs as an actor YOUR HEADSHOT IS BY FAR YOUR SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT MARKETING TOOL.
When I asked those inquiring about the job to send me a headshot MOST didn’t have one. They would have loved to have booked this Santa Claus commercial, but they didn’t have this essential marketing tool so I could not even submit them for consideration.
Several Santas sent photos that were NOT HEADSHOTS. Headshot photos for actors are a very specific thing. NOT sending the type of photo that was asked for does not get you submitted. You may be asked for additional photos, in fact, I had another New York job this week that asked for a headshot AND photos of Santa in Summer attire. Our PLATINUM MEMBERS have access to a session by a Hollywood pro on HOW TO GET AN EXTRAORDINARY HEADSHOT.
Remember, I was committed to doing an extraordinary job in finding an extraordinary Santa Claus actor for this commercial shoot. I was determined to exceed the expectations of all of the people involved in the shoot. I wanted to do everything I could to minimize the effort & time required by production.
Many Santas missed out on being submitted simply because they didn’t have presentable photos/headshots. Several of the photos had beards that simply needed better grooming or “patch-filling” in some areas. These are easy things to do, but they weren’t done.
By 3:00 PM Monday I made my submissions. On Tuesday one of our Santas was booked for the commercial!
3 WAYS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR ODDS OF BEING CAST IN A SANTA CLAUS COMMERCIAL, TV SHOW, OR MOVIE…
- Be found where those involved in productions are looking. This includes casting sites, especially casting sites in your area. Of Course, it also includes having your profile on the Worldwide Santa Claus Network, LLC
- Be ready. Have a ‘Quick Response Kit’ that includes at least one, and ideally several extraordinary headshots, other photos, a short bio, all of your size measurements, and a couple of testimonials/reviews if available.
- Respond quickly. Candidates are often submitted within hours.
Between now & Halloween hundreds of holiday-themed commercials, TV programs, and Internet videos will be cast & shot. Shoots will happen across the country. Remember, in 2021 a TV crew came to my home in rural Southern Oregon to shoot a segment for a TV show.
NOW IS THE TIME to get ready so when opportunity knocks on your door, you have your “Quick Response Package” in the production company’s hands within minutes.
By the way, I lost a Santa part in a movie, and when I later asked why they went with the other Santa, he said, “Your information came in about 15 minutes after his, and I already had confirmed him.”
In the Entertainment Industry THING HAPPEN FAST! Be ready!
Lastly, a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to the Santa Claus who booked this commercial. He’s on set right now as I’m writing this! We can’t reveal who it is until after the commercial begins to air, likely within the next few weeks. I can say that he is one of our multi-year Silver & Gold level members!
If you’re interested in booking Santa appearances on TV & movie shoots, consider becoming a Platinum Member of the Worldwide Santa Claus Network.
You can join our live Zoom sessions every Tuesday night through October and also access more than 200 hours of on-demand educational sessions and learn how to become a Santa Claus for commercial shoots.