Interview with Lynne Spillman, Casting Director for The Amazing Race

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About Lynne Spillman: Lynne Spillman, started casting over 10 years ago with MTV’s “Singled Out”. Lynne is now with CBS and heads up the casting process for Survivor, The Amazing Race, and Kid Nation. Lynne developed and implemented the process for semi final and final interviews for Survivor, Kid Nation, The Amazing Race, and more. Lynne has also worked on shows like: Pirate Masters, Cupid, and RockStar. Currently she is casting The Amazing Race 13.

Q. Mark RealityWanted.com: Lynne, thank you so much for taking the time out of your hectic work schedule to discuss the casting process for The Amazing Race and Survivor.

A. Lynne Spillman: No problem, I love to talk about my job and anything to do with Reality TV.

Q. Mark RealityWanted.com: I have a few questions for you today. I would like to start by asking how many applicants you receive for The Amazing Race and/or Survivor.

A. Lynne Spillman: We receive several thousand applications for both shows, maybe 20,000. Believe it or not we receive many applications from the same people year after year.

Q. Mark RealityWanted.com: Is it a bad idea to keep applying year after year for the same show?

A. Lynne Spillman: It’s not a bad idea to reapply for the same show each season. For example Kynt, currently on The Amazing Race 12, was a finalist on Survivor but didn’t make it. When he applied for The Amazing Race with Vxysin it made sense to cast him with another Goth. Sometimes applicants apply while they are in college yet have no real life experiences to bring to the show, if they apply a year or two later they may bring more to the table. Applicants will need to re apply, fill out an application, and in their video possibly say something about how they applied last year and where they are now in their life.

Applicants also seem to get more comfortable talking about their relationships, many people may not look at it this way but The Amazing Race is a relationship show. Applicants must be open and comfortable talking about themselves and their relationships.

Q. Mark RealityWanted.com: When you’re approached by people looking to be on The Amazing Race or Survivor what do you tell them when they ask you “How Can I Get on This Show”?

A. Lynne Spillman: I tell them to apply, it’s a bit funny to say but you have to apply in order to land a spot on a show. Even the contestants we recruit must fill out the application and make a video.

Q. Mark RealityWanted.com: That sounds fairly strait forward. Robyn Kass (Big Brother Casting Director) said the same thing. She said she is approached by people all the time asking the same question and she tells them to start by applying. Is it important for applicants to have watched The Amazing Race or Survivor prior to applying?

A. Lynne Spillman: You would not believe the amount of people who apply in person or send in a video having never watched a single episode of either show. How can you tell us in person or on your video how you will be good on the show or what you will bring to the show if you have never watched a single episode or season?

Q. Mark RealityWanted.com: Since we’re on the topic, what tips can you give to The Amazing Race applicants on making their video?

A. Lynne Spillman: I have several tips for applicants when it comes to making their audition video. Don’t use costumes, hand puppets, or too many special effects, etc. We want to get to know you and find out who you are. Also, if you say you are competitive give me examples. Tell us about the five sports you play, that your captain of your football team, or how you manage a team of 20 people at work. I like what I call “Slice Of Life” videos.

Q. Mark RealityWanted.com: I think I know what it is but can you explain to our readers what a “Slice Of Life” video is?

A. Lynne Spillman: A slice of life video is a video that is not rehearsed or scripted. I can tell if someone has written out what they are saying on their video and/or if it has been rehearsed and that’s not good TV. I like to see clips of applicants at work, at home with their significant others, doing their favorite hobby. I remember Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s video, she didn’t say much until she hit a speed bump and water spilled in the car. She started talking to the person filming her video, it was uncensored, non scripted, off the cuff, and funny.

Q. Mark RealityWanted.com:  What kind of problems do you run into when applicants send in their Videos?

A. Lynne Spillman:   We receive a lot of videos with no audio which means the applicant didn’t transfer the video from one medium to another properly.  We also receive many videos in the wrong format. Q. Mark RealityWanted.com: I just helped a friend transfer their video from Super 8 to VHS and I could see an issue like this coming up. Do you have any final tips for application videos?

A. Lynne Spillman: The most important thing Amazing Race applicants should know is that The Amazing Race is a relationship show. I also want people to tell us what they will bring to the show and why they would be good on the show. Too many applicants tell us they know they will win but to be honest I don’t care if you win I want good stories, it makes good TV. Don’t tell us you need the money to pay for school and you need to see the world, we already know this. I want to know the story of your relationship and why you are doing this as a couple or team.

Q. Mark RealityWanted.com: What about people who draw out a script or do some acting on their video? I have seen a few audition videos that look scripted.

A. Lynne Spillman: Don’t do it, it doesn’t tell me anything about who you are. One of our prior Survivor contestants simply sat in his backyard and talked about himself and his upbringing.

Q. Mark RealityWanted.com: Another important part of the application process is the photos. Can you tell me a little bit about what you look for/what you don’t want to see?

A. Lynne Spillman: Send in recent clear pictures, there is nothing more depressing than having someone come in for an in person audition and realize the picture they sent us is five years old or when they sent it in they had blond hair and now they have black hair. We try and cast a diverse group, for example we can’t cast 2 teams of five foot five blond haired beauties. We don’t typecast but visually the audience needs to be able to identify the teams and not become confused with who is who. Also, if you send in a group photo please tell us who you are in the photo.

Q. Mark RealityWanted.com: I never thought of the group photo, have you ever had an applicant send in a group photo and you end up liking the look of a person in the photo that did not apply?

A. Lynne Spillman: Yes, that has happened and we end up asking the person who applied how we can reach the person next to them in the photo.

Q. Mark RealityWanted.com: We have covered the video and photo portion of the application process, what about the actual written application. Can you give us some tips on how to fill it out or what to do or not to do?

A. Lynne Spillman: People don’t realize that the application is 50% of the application process. If I watch a video, look over an applicants photos, and then see one word answers on their application they can go from a 10 to a 5. The written applications are so important, they tell me so much about the applicant. Don’t over think the application or fill it out too quickly. Also, if you are going to show up to an open casting call fill out the application before you come to the audition, there is so much going on during the open call you wont be able to fill it out like you can when you have time at home.

Q. Mark RealityWanted.com: What about things that have come up during the background check process?

A. Lynne Spillman: Applicants should know we will and do run background checks. If there is anything that may pop up tell us, there may be something we can do about it. This is similar to being hired for a job, if you lie to us on the way in we assume you will lie throughout the process. We even have had teams apply who end up finding out something about their partner they had not shared with them prior.

Q. Mark RealityWanted.com: This is my final question about the application process. What tips would you give to those who come to an open casting call?

A. Lynne Spillman: When you come to an open casting call be yourself, don’t come dressed up in a goody costume, it may get you on the local news but not on The Amazing Race. More importantly applicants should think of three reasons why they would be good for the show and site examples, don’t come tell us what you would do with the money. Tell us that you have watched the show for the past five seasons and you would be good for the show because of ______.

Q. Mark RealityWanted.com: Lynne, thank you so much for taking the time to talk about how to properly apply to The Amazing Race. Do you have a favorite prior season or team?

A. Lynne Spillman: I really loved how Rob and Amber played the first time they were on the show. They played the game a little differently and it was fun to watch. I like every season and each team brings something new. Both Survivor and The Amazing Race have been on for so many years it’s refreshing to see someone play the games a bit different or bring something new to it.

APPLY NOW TO THE AMAZING RACE! OPEN CASTING CALL ARE STILL HAPPENING - DEADLINE DEC 9th

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