Go Behind the Scenes of an Open Casting Call

by Dan Gheesling

How-To-Get-On-Reality-TV-Behind-An-Open-Casting-CallAlthough I never actually attended an open casting call when I was trying to get on Reality TV (I always sent in audition videos) I do have some experience with them.

A few years ago my local CBS affiliate station in Detroit invited me to “host” one of their Big Brother casting calls.

(Note: host = go around with a microphone and act like you know what you’re doing)

The casting call was held at a former pro-football stadium and it included casting calls for two shows, instead of normally just one.  When I arrived at the event, I was shocked at the mass of people in line.

It was completely unlike anything I had ever seen and I wondered how many of them realized that they would be waiting 4-5 hours for an opportunity to speak in front of the camera for 60 seconds.

Because I had to “host” the event I did not have a chance to talk to as many applicants as I would have liked.  What I did have the chance to do was sit in on the entire session of interviews.

This type of open call was a little bit different than the one that just happened in LA for Big Brother.  The main difference is that there were no representatives from the casting company at this one I ‘hosted.’  There was just a local CBS affiliate camera man running the actual casting room.

Behind the Scenes

I had the chance to sit through a ton of auditions during the open call.  It was a pretty simple setup, the applicant would walk in with an application, throw it in a box and the cameraman would give a super brief set of instructions.  All this was going on as I just sat there and watched behind the camera.

Time and time again people would stand in front of the camera and not do a whole lot.  No stories, no energy, nothing.  It got to the point where it was tough to watch.

A lot of the people who showed up LOOKED like they could be great contestants, but they didn’t know what to do in front of the camera.

Eventually, as I saw so many people fail, I started to give the applicants pointers BEFORE the camera turned on.


Mistakes Applicants Made

Most people entered the casting room without a clue.  One guy in particular sang an entire Lady Gaga song as his interview.  It was mildly entertaining but because he didn’t introduce himself (or his story) it really gave him no shot to actually get cast on the show.

As I sat through many attempts to get on the show, I started to notice patterns, which later became the basis for How To Get On Reality TV: The Complete Step by Step Guide.

The majority of people I talked to before they were on camera were very dynamic and engaging, but once the camera was on, their personalities shriveled up.

These applicants only needed a little genuine direction and some of them would have had a legitimate shot at Semi-finals.


Watch the Video

When you watch the video look past my bad jokes and over inflated hair.  Focus on the things going on in the background to get a true feel of what a casting call is like.  The more comfortable you can become with the environment before arriving at the open casting call, the better you will do.

Take notice of the lines, camera setup, and waiting area.  What else can you find in this video that will help you?  Enjoy:


In The End

There is a lot to learn from this short video if you are really serious about getting cast on Reality TV.  Don’t be like most people that showed up at this actual casting call with no energy or stories ready to go.  I can remember leaving this event a little upset that these people who really wanted to get on Reality TV had no clue what to do.

At the same time looking back this experience really inspired me to create this website and write two books to help people get on Reality TV.

What did you learn from this Open Call Casting Video? Share your thoughts in the comments below! Also if you haven’t had a chance to preview my  eBook ‘How a Normal Guy Got Cast on Reality TV – you can do so by clicking here!


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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Kareny April 2, 2012 at 1:58 pm

While I don’t think you intended to put Zach Anner’s April Fool’s day video on this entry, I *heartily* approve, because he’s brilliant. Can we get Zach on BB14?

(And thanks for the informative entries! I have no desire to be cast because I know I’d be boring, but it’s interesting to read nevertheless.)


Kat April 13, 2012 at 12:06 am

They don’t have sit down interviews anymore? You just go in front of a camera and talk?


Dan Gheesling April 15, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Open casting calls are different than a 2nd round type interview. The sit downs usually occur after you’ve cleared the initial round. Hope this helps Kat.


Matt Vohwinkle September 10, 2012 at 5:39 am

This is my first visit to this site. I just heard you mention it on After Dark. I’m obsessed with all reality television and Big Brother in particular. I have applied twice and plan to do so again. I find your advice pretty helpful and realistic. I’m actually commenting because I was the very first applicant at this Silverdome open casting call! I never saw you. But, expected you would be there. The initial experience was disenfranchising. However, I learned a lot about the process. I originally expected a taped sit down with producers and was surprised to just see a camera and told “go for it.” My audition was horrible and I know why. Although, my next audition I just sent in a tape. It was much better and more interesting, I still didn’t get a call back. But, I’m going to continue to try. I’m a gay gimp from Flint and a long line of jobs. My stories are endless! I know I’m on the right path. Well, I’m going to end congratulating you on a great season. While, I haven’t always been a fan. You always play a great game!


lisa ezrre September 28, 2012 at 1:05 pm

in every single frame the people in the back ground were just standing their sometimes digging into their purses or tryng to fill out their application as if they were waiting for someone to walk up to them and say omg ur a superstar i felt it from afar as u sat blankly staring at the wall. no one was talking to each other no one was getting a feel for what they were about to try and do. it was kinda weird because that was like the worst reality t.v event i have ever seen. no one was fun or funny except the blond girl had a energetic smile and was looking at the invisible people on the the other side of the black dot. this is some good stuff dan getting ready to go to an open call for survivor at the end of november.. i have allready moved through the eary stages of dumb ass things to do and say in front of a camera as i have tried to hone in on my wonderfull me and figure out how to project it to the people who are on the other side of the little black void that is a direct connection between us. I also over the years have sent in 2 auditon tapes to other shows thinking once i had a good tape and once i had a not so good tape since i had only 14 hours to make it and get it in the mail.. i like to think it didnt get deliverd on time i had to pay extra to ship it priority jeez i was a mess i only had read about the deadline a day before and had to borrow a camera and wow if effort was what was needed than i had that covered. ummm sorry i got a little of topic. btw i would have never used that power of veto to save ur ass and have to eat slop for the remainder of my time their.. i kept thinking wow he has u people snowed over and under his controll and they were even throwing the competitions. while i was dispointed in the lack of confidence the other players showed in themselves and keept u arround i was quite impressed with how u did it. except i could read your game when u went into the disco room by looking at the choices u had in how u could save yourself and decption was at the top of the list…what else did u have left..oh well you deserve every penny just hope u never get put into a house with me. rock on.


Rachel Cambre May 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm

I did my open call in New Orleans a couple weeks ago… I thought I needed to be there super early cause there would be a line.. So i get there 3 hours before the posted time to start. Wow!! Was I schocked to see that noone was there.. Noone… So I approch a guy that has a badge on and ask him if I’m in the right place. he says I am but i am early.. Well Duh.. I was thinking of pitching a tent the night before.. LOL… Thank God I didn’t… Anyway so noone is there what to do…. Well like any normal person from New Orleans would do I went to the bar next door and had some drinks..I was my usual out-going self and had everyone in the bar loving them some Rachel… Anyway a couple shots and 2 or so beers later I go back nextdoor.. Now there are 3 people there… Anyway Im rambling… What surprised me was that most of the people I met knew nothing about the show.. In fact 3 different people came to me and asked me who should i say is my most and least favorite houseguest? Now me being a superfan knows every player to ever play this game… But in true BB style I lied… Yep… Sorry but I did.. Hell if i would have told them the right thing to say they could have stolen my shot… LOL… So I made up some names… HAHAHA!!! Ian was there and it seemed I was the only person who knew him… I yell Quack Quack and he looks my way and smiles and walks over to me.. We talked about u Dan…lol.. All and all I think I made a good impression….


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