HGR 009: Your Reality TV Casting Questions Answered

by Dan Gheesling

How-To-Get-On-Reality-TV-Common-Casting-QuestionsThe ninth episode of the How To Get On Reality TV podcast is all about answering questions submitted from you! :)

Questions submitted through the e-mail list as well as the Facebook page were included in this Podcast.

This episode covers some of the most frequently asked Reality TV Casting Questions!

Podcast Notes:

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Podcast Transcript:

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Dan Gheesling: This is the “How To Get On Reality TV Podcast” with Dan Gheesling: Episode 9. It’s my favorite number…9. It really is.

Welcome to the “How To Get On Reality TV Podcast,” where you will learn everything you need to know about getting cast on a reality television show. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know where to start OR if you have applied many, many times before. This podcast will help you improve your casting game.

Welcome back to another episode of the “How To Get On Reality TV Podcast!” I’m super excited that you’ve decided to tune in yet again to another episode of the podcast. It’s all about helping you up your casting game. Helping you pick up a new tip, a new trick, some new action that’s gonna help get you further in the reality TV casting process. So, super excited you’ve joined us again and we’ve got a new show for you, you know, I’m doing something a little different this time around. I’m not having anyone come on here and have a direct interview. I’m not having my own creative content. Essentially this episode is all about you, you know, I’m going to be taking questions that you guys left me on Facebook and through the email list and we’re gonna answer them, you know, direct from you. And so that’s what we’re gonna jump into in just a second. Before we get into the show, I just want to take a second to thank “DIAMONDMARIE” for leaving an iTunes review. I really, really appreciate it! And I also appreciate the fact that it was 5 Stars, you know, cause that really helps me out. So if you can take a second to leave a review on iTunes, I’d really appreciate it. So “DIAMONDMARIE” thank you so much, um, I really do appreciate that.

And also I just want to give a quick thank you to everyone who made it through the 4 week Casting Boot Camp at CastingBootCamp.com. It was a big success and for me it was, as kinda the teacher and leader of the Boot Camp, it was awesome to see all the feedback and how much effort everyone put in and how excited everyone was, just as the feedback. So thank you guys if you’re listening to this podcast and you were a part of the Boot Camp, you know, thank you for making it so successful and I’m super proud of you guys!

So with that being said…we’re gonna jump right into the questions and I want to do this episode for a few reasons. Because, over time, people email me questions all the time about “Hey Dan, how do I do this?” or “What’s something gimmicky to do in an audition video? What should I not do?” And overtime a lot of the same questions start to come in but I really wanted to make this episode about the people who listen to this podcast and the people who’ve reached out to me and said that. Cause I really appreciate you guys tuning in, so I’m gonna answer your guys’ questions.

The first question is from Emily on Facebook. Directly, I’m just gonna read them right to you, Emily’s question is: What are some gimmicky things you don’t recommend someone do in their audition video?” And Emily, you know, you’re on the right track because…you’re exactly right. A lot of people tape their audition video, or, the open casting call process and throw a big gimmick that overpowers what they’re actually supposed to be doing which is telling their story and selling the casting associates on who they are. Not that they’re crazy enough to wear a chicken suit to an open casting call or crazy enough, if they’re applying to Survivor, to shoot their audition video in the wild. Because those are two huge gimmicks that happen time and time again, you know, it’s one of my pet peeves that you can see is when…for example, when for a specific show if someone’s creating an audition video they use the background or the setting of their audition video as the same as it would be in the show. Whether it’s someone trying out for Survivor and they’re in the jungle or someone who is applying for Big Brother and they’re eating slop, or something that looks like slop. It’s all been done time and time before and those are all very gimmicky things.

Now, what I always try to do with Emily’s question and with anyone’s question is I don’t always like to talk about what not to do but I want to try and give you something TO DO. So there are some small, gimmicky-like things that you can do to help amplify your casting story or help develop what I like to call your “Casting Cartoon Character.” And you gotta be careful with this because you don’t want it to seem gimmicky. It’s gotta be within the normal realm of your personality. Best example I can give is from Ian Terry, you know, when you listen to the last podcast (Episode 8) Ian talks about how he read my book before getting cast on reality TV and one of the things he took was how important it was for him to play the “Nerd Character” and really embrace that. He actually wore these nerdy glasses that amplified his character that weren’t prescription but they made, you know, his a little bit clearer and a little bit more cartoon-like because he understood how that was. Now it wasn’t a gimmick, he just amplified how he was. Now there’s something I like to call “Within Your Normal Realm”: something you can wear, or something you can talk about, or something you can do in your audition video that’s within your normal realm of weirdness. Or, in terms of gimmickness. It’s not something you normally wouldn’t do, so do that. And it’s very difficult to pinpoint unless, you know, unless you were to give a specific example in your question, Emily. But when it comes time to make the decision whether or not to do something for your audition video or your open casting call, in terms of it being a gimmick, if it’s a really big…ask yourself this question…if it’s a really big stretch and it’s something you normally wouldn’t do or wear in your normal life, then don’t do it. If it’s a good fit and it matches your Casting Cartoon Character, then do it. But just ask yourself that question: Is this something that I would normally do or wear? And, if not, don’t do it. So I hope that helps to answer your question, Emily on Facebook, thank you so much for asking it.

Next question is from Greg on Facebook. And Greg says: “How important are aesthetics? Is having a different look very important?” Now to really answer this question, we have to define the terms “different look.” In terms of if having a different look is important…no. You don’t have to look like this off-the-wall character, you just have to look like who you are and extenuate who you are. And one of the things that helps people visualize it, and I mentioned it more in the previous question from Emily, is the fact that when you enter in casting, the best way to kinda visualize it is that you’re a Casting Cartoon Character. You know, you need to paint yourself as this cartoon character with some things extenuated. Is having a different look important?… No. Is having a “you” look very important?… Yes. You know, so someone should be able to look at you and have a good idea of what you’re about just based on the looks or at least have some idea. The Casting Producer wants to look at you and have a good idea of who you are. Not have to dig and really understand, you know, deeper beyond your initial look. Your first look should be very telling in terms of who you are and what you look like. And I’m not sure I’m completely answering that question the best way, but, don’t make a different look just for the sake of being different. Make your look as unique are possible and true to you.

So how important are aesthetics? It’s…they’re not overly important…they’re important for defining who you are, you know, and I guess what…to take this a step further in terms of aesthetics: Do you have to be the most athletic-looking or ripped person or physically fit person in the world? No. You just have to be able to create your character and sell your character, you know, visually. And that’s a big part of it. Okay so I hope that helps answer your question, Greg.

Next question come from Aaron, which Aaron was on the email list so he actually sent this question in through that because he’s a member of the email list. And Aaron wants to know: “Should I spend money to produce my reality TV video?” Now there’s a couple ways to take this question. Should you hire a production company, professional editor to create your audition video? No. Should you spend money on a crazy background for your audition video? No. Are you gonna have to spend some money maybe for, uh, a FlipCam? Possibly. Can you use your iPhone? Definitely. You know, one tip if you are going to shoot your audition video with an iPhone, make sure you do it horizontally and not vertically. And, you know, what that means is take your iPhone and tilt the way it normally is because then it’ll fill up the whole screen. That’s just a random tip. You know, but, you shouldn’t have to hire someone to create your audition video. You don’t need to dump money into this. It should be something that’s natural within the realm of your normal life. And don’t spend a ton of money on it because you gotta remember: the ultimate goal for your audition video is just to get to the next step. Your audition video may never be seen again by someone super high up. But it’s just not that important – your only goal with the audition video is just to get you to the next round by any means necessary. So Aaron, I would strongly suggest not spending any money on your audition video and producing it. The only thing you may need to spend money on is a super, super simple video camera. So I hope that helps, Aaron.

Alright, so we’re gonna go with the next question which is from Michael who also sent this in through the email list. And Michael’s question…it’s not really a question, it’s kind of a statement…but it kinda jumped out at me and I wanted to read it directly from you. So Michael’s statement is: “Hear me out. I want to see your original video! I know what you normally say, ‘My video won’t help you. Be yourself.’, but getting to see a video that actually worked would give a ton of value to hopefuls who know how to pull the useful information and not just be a rip-off. The remainder of the content I trust will be epic as usual. Thank for all you do! I’ve been closer each year…I’ll give you some credit when I make it on reality TV!” Alright well thanks so much for the credit, Michael! Um, but, here’s what I’ve done: I’ve actually released one of my audition videos. And I’ll include a link in the show notes, it’s in the middle of the Webinar. So I did a Webinar called “The Five Deadly Mistakes Of Applying For A Reality TV Show.” And in the middle of that is…well, I guess in the second half of that is my first audition video that I ever created. That’s actually released and you can actually watch that and it’s in the Webinar, which I will include in the show notes. So if you go to HowToGetOnRealityTV.net/Episode9 then it’ll take you there and, once again, all the show notes will be there. So my audition video is out there and you can see it and I think you’re right – I think you are going to see some value in it.

Not only that but another thing you can do and it’s really easy to access is if you go on YouTube. If you go on YouTube, there are plenty of Survivor videos from successful people. Meaning, people who have been successfully cast on the show. All you have to do is go onto YouTube, I know there’s tons. There’s at least a dozen off-hand that I can think of. So go through and watch those, you know. You’ll also see people’s videos that weren’t successful, you know, so look at why you think they weren’t successful and watch it with kind of a critical eye. And the other thing I just want to throw into this question is: make sure your stuff isn’t on YouTube. If you have an audition video, make sure it’s not publically viewable to YouTube. You gotta remember the casting process is very secretive and you want to keep that stuff on the low. So I hope that helps to answer your question, Michael, my audition video is available to watch and I’ll include that in the show notes.

Alright, next one is from Kevin who also sent this in through email list. Kevin wants to know: “How can I make my audition video unique and stand out from the rest?” Well, that’s a loaded question in itself because for each person, each video will be different. But what I can tell you is where you need to start – which is understanding your casting story. Understanding what is unique and weird about you is the basis for your audition video. And, you know, like I said…I just went through a Reality TV Casting Boot Camp and walked people through from A-Z on how to do this. But really a good place to start is creating a list of things that you consider weird about yourself. So things you might do that people find weird but you really enjoy doing, cause that’s what’s gonna make you unique. So that’s where to start: make a list of weird things about yourself and that’ll help start to form the basis of your casting story. And really your reality TV character or, you know, personality. So I hope that helps, Kevin. That’s the best way to stand out and actually get started.

Next question is from Renee and she also sent this in because she’s also a part of the “How To Get On Reality TV” Email List. And Renee wants to know: “I would most like to learn how to deal with the ‘Firing Squad’ of producer questions in a semi-final interview and if you should maintain the same energy you do in person as in your audition video.” Okay, so you kinda broke this up into two questions. So Renee wants to know about the “Firing Squad” of producer questions. So what Renee means by that is when you get to a certain point in casting, you’re going to be challenged just for the sake of being challenged. You can actually go back and listen to…I believe it was Episode 6 with Casting Producer Erika Landin and she talks about this. How she will directly challenge people just to see if they’re real so, you know, she’ll ask a question just to knock them off kilter a little bit and just to really push back. And this happens in some of the later rounds of reality TV shows once you get higher up. And there’s people who are put in the casting room or the interview room just to see how far you’re gonna go and how far you’re gonna dig your heals in the ground and actually say “You know what, this is who I am and you’re not going to change it.” The best way to prepare for that is tying back to Kevin’s question is just know your story and stick to it and don’t falter from that. Even when people try to intimidate you because that’s all they’re trying to do in that portion of casting.

Now the second part of Renee’s question about should she maintain the same energy in person as you do in your audition video…yes! The point to the audition video is to get you in the door and there shouldn’t be any surprises. You in person should be just as you are in your audition video, if not more animated. So yes, you gotta keep up the energy. Do whatever you need to do prior to the second round of casting to get yourself excited and ready to go because you gotta remember these casting producers see a lot of the same things, you know, people with, you know, dulled energy. So when you come in with a lot of energy and excited to be there and you bust through the door, that’s gonna grab their attention right away. So, um, I hope that answers your question Renee. And thanks for sending that in.

Alright, the next question comes from Scott on Facebook. And Scott wants to know: “Do you know of any casting scams to look out for?” Yes. You know, Scott, anything where someone asks you to put money upfront. You know, whether it’s, you know, pay us $1,000 and we guarantee you’re gonna get put on a reality TV show: don’t do that. You know, because no one can guarantee your spot on reality TV. I can’t even sit here and guarantee that you’re going to get on reality TV just by listening to this podcast. The only person who can guarantee that you’ll be cast on reality TV is yourself. That’s how far you’re willing to go and how self-perceptive you are to understand and make changes every time you may get denied to get to where you need to be in a position to be cast. There’s no guarantees in reality TV casting and anyone that says that should be a red flag for you. And, you know, any of the things that I’ve created whether it was the “How To Get On Reality TV Guide” or the “Casting Boot Camp.” I’m very aware of how I tell people about it. My goal is to share as much information as possible and help them get to the point and help them get themselves in the best position they can be in. But sometimes even that’s not enough, you know, understand and keep wanting to keep pushing and keep bettering yourself every single day in your casting story. So in terms of any specific scams to look out for, anyone that asks for a lot of money upfront to do something and specifically when they’re guaranteeing something…there’s no guarantees. So if you see the word “guarantee” that should be a red light. And another thing is Google. There’s some casting services out there that if you Google the name of the company, there’ s going to be some reviews that are less than stellar. And I’m not here to call any of them out because I can’t even think of them off the top of my head. Just be smart and do a little research. So I hope that helps to answer your question, Scott, thanks for putting that through on the Facebook page. Which if you haven’t like us on Facebook, you can do it on Facebook.com/HowToGetOnRealityTV.

So, we’re going to go to the final two questions. The next question comes from Jay. Jay actually sent this through on the email list. Which by the way I just mentioned how you can join the Facebook conversation and if you wanna join the “How To Get On Reality TV” Email List where I send out exclusive updates and sometimes ask you guys questions like this to get answered. You can do it at HowToGetOnRealityTV.net/list and that will get you on the list. So obviously there’s not charge for anything like that. Anyway so Jay’s question from the email list is: he’d like to learn how to get into the right mental frame of mind. “I went to the audition videos and got extremely nervous five minutes before the call. It felt like a blur and it sucked because I was prepared and I generally felt like a boss. So helping me prepare for the mental game of auditioning. Thanks, Dan.” (Doesn’t sound right, but that’s what you said.) So Jay, it’s really you know, what Jay went through when he got the call and got to the next level is, you know, those nerves are real. It’s what happens to people because you’re entering into a unique situation. There’s a couple things and I’ll give you two off-hand that I know that will help you mentally prepare for it as best as possible. And the #1 thing is if you’re going on location. For example, most callbacks or most second round interviews are either going to be traditional which means in from of a person and you have to travel in person or they’re gonna be online on Skype. So really one thing you want to do is eliminate any distractions and any external factors you can control, you wanna do that. If you’re going to a traditional callback or a traditional second round you, you really want to scout it out. You wanna walk around the buildings, you wanna get comfortable with your surroundings so you don’t have to worry about finding it. That’s gonna reduce a little anxiety so that’s if it’s a traditional callback. If it’s an online face-to-face Skype call, you want to block out at least 3-4 hours of your day to prepare for that. So you want to make sure that your roommates aren’t home and you want to make sure that you’re not distracted. You wanna get all the distractions and internal factors in your control, calmed down, and out of the way so the only thing you need to focus on is that interview.

The second thing piece of advice I’d give you in order to get mentally prepared, and it sounds a little cheesy but it worked for me, and that’s to actually visualize yourself going through it. So if you’re getting ready for the Skype call, literally visualize the night before looking at the camera screening, looking at the face of the casting producer, looking into your webcam, and being successful at it. You know, you have to close your eyes and paint what that picture looks like and if you’re going to be doing your Skype callback from your home office location, you already know what that looks like. But just visualize the surroundings and visualize yourself having success. See yourself laughing, see the casting producer on your screen laughing and being excited and laughing with you. That’s going to help. And if you’re doing it in a tradition location, close your eyes and visualize yourself walking in to the interview room, that camera shining in your face, and that casting producer. Visualize yourself sitting there and fielding the questions and doing well. Those are two things that I know will help you because they helped me in that situation. Those are things that I did. And I would also get myself really psyched-up before, you know, of course I was nervous. Of course there’s a lot on the line when you go to that second callback. You just have to be really confident. And knowing your story, knowing your cartoon character, and preparing the night before are all things that are going to help you in terms of calming your nerves as much as possible. The other thing too is to embrace those nerves because, you know, you think back to the time you got that second callback and you get that interview, you can’t recreate that physical feeling. So really accept that and have it fuel you to do well. The other thing to do to calm your nerves is…you’ve already done it once. The more experience you can gain, the more callbacks you attend…obviously, the more callbacks you attend means they’re turning you down each year…but it also should help with your experience. So it’s kind of all those things put together and, uh, also go back and listing to this podcast. Listen to some other podcasts, you know, for example Troyzan’s story. His podcasts are Episodes 3-5. Go back and listen to those. Listen to what people went through and just listening to their struggle will also help you. So, Jay, I hope that helps and I appreciate the question.

The last question we’re gonna take is again from the Email List and this is from Chris. Chris wants to know: “Does the background of an audition video really matter? Does the background tell you more about yourself? What if you constantly have a different background?” So, really this is talking about setting up your audition video. When you set up your audition video, you do want to be cognizant of your background. My best advice is: if your background can really add to your story. So for example, if you have a really unique working environment that you could possibly sit there and describe it for 10 or 15 minutes, that’s something that’s really powerful if it’s a unique thing. Let me show you on the flipside, if you’re like a college student and you’re applying for reality TV and you show yourself in the classroom or in front of a chalkboard, is that really anything really unique? No. So my best advice in selecting a background, if it’s something unique and adds to your story, do it. But if it’s something kind of that a lot of people are going to be doing, don’t. It’s a lot to set up, it’s a lot to figure out. Heading into work thinking what times could I film this at? It’s a lot of work. So you want to figure out if that’s adding to your story or just distracting from it because you don’t want to put yourself in a background just for the sake of doing it. If you are constantly changing backgrounds just to change backgrounds, that’s not going to help your story. Is there anything wrong with recording your entire audition video on a white wall or in your bed in your bedroom? No. Sometimes those are some of the best because they come across the most genuine. So in terms of selecting a background it’s: if it really, really adds to your story. And they say a picture’s worth a million words…or a thousand words…whatever that saying is, you know, do it. But if you feel like it doesn’t, then don’t go through the trouble to do that. It’s more important to just know your audition video, know your story, and really deliver with a ton of energy.

So, that being said, we fired through 10 questions pretty quickly. I want to thank you so much for tuning into this episode. Thank everyone that asked the questions: on Facebook and through the Email List. In a future episode, I’m gonna do another one of these again so if you want to get your reality TV casting question answered, you can submit it to me at HowToGetOnRealityTV.net/ask and you can submit your question there. I may answer it in an upcoming podcast! So, once again, that link or any of the other links we talked about whether it’s a link to my audition video in the Webinar, some of the YouTube casting videos, those are all going to be available in the show notes which are on HowToGetOnRealityTV.net/Episode9 all the links are aggregated in one area for you.

Before I close out the episode, I do want to tell you about the special upcoming 10th Episode of the “How To Get On Reality TV Podcast!” It’s just around the corner. If you’re listening to this currently in real time, it’ll be two weeks from now. I’m going to have a very, very, very special guest. I’ve been waiting for a long time to ask this person to come one the show. I didn’t want to bring them on right in the beginning, I wanted to wait until later. I’m not even going to reveal the gender. But I wanted to save this person until a milestone and, to me, the 10th episode is a milestone and it’s a lot…a lot of work goes into these podcasts and it’s a special one. This person is really knowledgeable in the reality TV industry and this person had a great impact in my casting journey. So I’m really excited to the next episode of the podcast. That will be released in two weeks from now.

And one more thing I just want to close this show out with, and this is coming out soon: the “How To Get On Reality TV Video Course.” If you didn’t get a chance to attend the Boot Camp, the video course is the next best thing to attending the Boot Camp without, you know, the live interaction part. That’s going to be released really soon. And for the people who have signed up for the “How To Get On Reality TV Video Course Email List” I’m going to be leaking out some information to them very soon, along with a special discount just for those who have been a part of that which you can join at HowToGetOnRealityTV.net/Course, it’s right at the bottom. If you want to find out about the “How To Get On Reality TV Video Course” before anyone else, that’s the best way to do it at HowToGetOnRealityTV.net/Course.

And so, without any further ado, this is the close of the 9th Episode of the “How To Get On Reality TV Podcast.” Thank you so much for tuning in, I appreciate it, and I will talk to you guys soon! See ya!

Oh, and one more thing: yes, #9 was my favorite all-time number. Until some things happened in my life, and my favorite number changed to 10. And I think you guys all know why. See ya!


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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniel March 22, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Hey Dan! Great podcast! I’m literally counting down the days till I graduate and apply for the show, so you’re helping pass the time and just helping in general.
My friends and I were discussing the possibilities of All Stars 2, I think it’d be interesting to see who you think would be on an All Stars 2.

Also, even though I have no intentions of being on the show till next summer, do you think I should still go to a casting call in my town that’s coming up just for the experience?

Look forward to the next podcast!
- Daniel!


Mark March 23, 2013 at 2:45 am

Podcast 10 must be starring Robyn Kass. Gotta have intuition for Big Brother. :)


Bobby flynne March 27, 2013 at 9:18 am

Hey Dan! Thanks for another podcast. I was gonna watch big brother Canada tonight cause I’m a few episodes behind, but your recordings are my #1 priority! I keep posting in all your blog entries now so if my comments are getting annoying please just let me know.


Emilie March 30, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Great podcast, Dan :) Thanks for posting!!



Colleen April 2, 2013 at 5:09 am

Okay how this for a good memory. I think I once saw a picture of you in a football uniform and your number was nine. I flashed on it when you said it was your favourite number. Don’t ask where or when I saw it LOL
Either I’m right and have a good memory or losing my mind ? LOL which is it ? LOL
Good job Thanks!
Colleen :)


Jah May 6, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Funny in regards to the background thing. Robin said or suggested on twitter have a blank wall behind you. I asked / said to her but what if your wall is representative of your personality (which mine is)…she replied ‘ we care about your personality not your walls’.

This was after I had already sent in my video…. I feel better knowing you don’t think a wall that sells some of your personality isn’t a bad thing. I didn’t create a gimmick I simply recorded me in front of what I live amongst…if that hurts my chances…then there’s no hope for me anyway. I’m confident it’s supplemental to who I am that’s not hit on in the three minutes.

Of course whomever watches my video could ignore what’s on my wall or miss that but…that’s out of my hands unless I spent the time pointing things on my wall out….lol (((I’m wagering that wouldn’t get anyone very far in the casting process though)))


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