I have two distinct lives. One in the trenches of low-budget film and television, the other in professional gambling. Because of the feast-or-famine nature of show business I need a reliable income... gambling. So here you will read about both worlds. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Acting auditions


Actors hate to audition, but they are a necessary part of the business, and remember, for all but the top stars the acting business is 90% business and 10% talent.  Following are the mistakes I saw over and over again at auditions.

1.  Bring your picture and resume.  I constantly had actors say, "Didn't my agent send it over?"  Well yes, but there are 2 producers, a director, and 2 casting directors here and if more than 1 of them wants your resume you should be able to hand it over.  In fact, you should always have a stack in the trunk of your car.  You never know who your going to run into at the mall.

2. Attitude.  When I first started directing I was amazed at the attitude many actors walk in with.  Sort of a "Who are you and why should I be auditioning for you?" type thing.  Maybe this is due to their insecurity or nervousness, but who needs it.  Hire a shrink and act like your happy to be there.

3.  Over dress.  Whether consciously or unconsciously we are going to see you as more professional if you are in a suit or a dress.  Dress to fit the character but when in doubt, lean to excess.  If you come in to read for a teacher, wear a suit.  Many producers lack imagination.  I did a film where the lead was supposed to be a wealthy, sophisticated, fashion model.  MOST of the women showered up in jeans or schmata dresses with no makeup.  One girl in particular (who is a model) showed up with stringy hair, no makeup, and jeans, but gave a good reading.  The producer couldn't see her as sophisticated even though there were a lot of shots in her book that showed her this way.  We had her in for a callback, and the casting director told her to come with a sophisticated look.  Well, she wore a dress, but still had stringy hair and no makeup. Thank you, NEXT.

4. Do your homework.  By this I mean study the sides and read the script if you have access.  (If you're coming in to read for an under 5 don't ask for the script.)  But equally important is to find out who you're auditioning for.  Go to the store and look up the director.  Watch some of his movies.  Also look up the casting directors and producers.  All your looking for is a way to start conversation.  It always helps when an actor comes in and says, "I'm from Chicago too."  Or "I saw your movie on cable last week".

Now lets talk about the actual acting part of all this.

5. Make a bold choice.  95% of the actors (maybe more) who come in are going to read in one of two ways. They either make no choice and every line sounds the same, or they make the obvious choice and all get angry on the same line, and quiet on the same line.  If you want to get noticed make the boldest choice you can imagine with as many variations as possible.  One possibility would be to look at the sides and say, here is where most actors will get angry, here they'll get sad, here they will laugh,  and you do the opposite.  If you do this we will be blown away.  We have seen that scene 147 times in the last few hours and suddenly it's different.  Now you must be prepared to say...

6.  "Would you like me to do it again?"  I have another take on the character if you want.  What a great thing.  Now you get to audition twice, and I guarantee you will be remembered.  But, when you do it again it must be different.

7.  If asked to read for another role make it as different as possible.  I had an actor audition for a role, and we asked him to read for another part.  When he came in for the second reading he used a southern accent and changed the way he walked.  He was completely different than his first reading and he got the part.  In the movie I didn't have him use the accent but it did show me his range.

8. Take no for an answer.  If you finish your reading, and we say, Thank you, next” feel free to ask if we would like to see something different.  But if we say no, that we’ve seen enough then let it go.  You are not going to change our minds at that point, and if you get too argumentative or desparate it could ruin chances for future auditions.  Good manners help.

That's it for now.  Next time I'll talk about what to do & not do once you have the job.

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