This spring, the UMass Boston campus is abuzz with Hollywood fever. The university has embarked on a journey to create a new school commercial and an advertising campaign that will feature actual UMass Boston students and faculty. The Mass Media conducted an interview via email with Ashley Skomurski, a casting director and part-owner of Slate Casting, the company the university hired to cast the commercial.
Question: Can you tell me a bit about what Slate Casting does?
Answer: Slate Casting casts actors, models, voice-overs and real people for commercials, web videos, industrials, print ads, television shows and films. We are hired by a production company to find the right people for their project based on whatever their creative vision may be.
Q: Who approached you about the commercial for UMass Boston?
A: We were hired by the production company who is working on the upcoming campaign for UMass Boston.
Q: How has your experience working with UMass Boston students and faculty been so far?
A: Amazing! The UMass community of students, faculty and staff has been incredible! We have received a great response from people interested in potentially being a part of the project as well as folks helping us to spread the word of the casting. Students have really amazing stories! Everyone has been so nice and those folks who have submitted for the casting have done a great job putting their auditions together!
Q: Why is being part of this commercial and campaign a good opportunity for students and faculty?
A: We love that this project will feature actual students, faculty and staff from UMass Boston. It will be such an authentic representation of the UMass Boston community. It is a great opportunity to highlight various people that make the UMass Boston community what it is! There is no acting experience necessary, since people will be showing who they really are and how they are involved with the university. For those we end up casting, it will be a fun and exciting experience to participate in the shoot and then to hopefully see yourself in the project once it’s complete!
Q: Do you know when we’ll be seeing the final product, or is that in someone else’s department?
A: Unfortunately, that is not my department. Typically, it takes a couple months to turn something like this around from the time of casting to final edit.
The casting opportunity was advertised across campus, stating that no acting experience was necessary, and that students could be paid $1,300, if cast. Slate asked those who auditioned to email the agency their photos and contact information, as well as explain the ways in which they were involved at UMass Boston.
The Mass Media also spoke with students who auditioned for the project. Sophomore and English major Katrina Sanville spoke to her audition experience via social media messaging:
“Basically, I emailed them my information on the flyer and attached a few photos of myself (I included full body and shoulder up, as well as pictures of me with a mask on because I have no idea what they'll want), and then they asked me to send in a self-tape,” wrote Sanville. “The self-tape just stated my name, my role at UMass Bosotn (year and major, I assumed), groups and organizations I was in, if I lived on campus or not, and what I loved most about UMass Boston!”
Slate Casting has been working in casting in the Boston area for over 30 years, and its “Real People” casting division has cast individuals in projects for Volkswagen USA, Under Armour, JetBlue, Blue Bikes and more.
Stay tuned for more updates regarding UMass Boston’s upcoming advertising campaign.