During Part 1 of my conversation with Casting Director Caroline Liem, we discussed the priorities actors should concentrate on when they first arrive in Los Angeles: Get a working car, get into acting class and get a great picture taken by a professional photographer. In Part 2, Caroline and I will discuss the business side of acting, the audition room and pet peeves.
Auditions can be tough to come by. You want to do well to have a better chance at booking the job as well as leave a favorable impression so that you will get more auditions with the casting director. Unlike theatrical auditions where you know you will normally be reading a script with a reader or sometimes another actor, there are many types of commercial auditions: dialogue, one-liners, monologue copy, short scenes, longer scenes, two or more person scenes, improvisation, reactions, skills, questions, etc. etc. Some auditions require no preparation. But most require a little and some a lot.
Audition preparation differentiates the professionals from the amateurs. Here is what professionals do:
Get correct information: When you receive an audition call, text or e-mail, note ALL the data. You don’t want to prepare for the wrong role or go to the wrong address.
Confirm appointments: Call, text, e-mail or respond via the casting sites to whoever contacted you to confirm your audition. If you don’t confirm in a timely manner they will assume you are not going and will assign another actor the time that was delegated to you.
Obtain the commercial copy in advance: Before most dialogue commercial auditions, CDs post the copy on submission websites for the auditioning actors. Join these sites so you have access.
Prepare material: material when posted. Ask your representation if there is copy. If there is, arrange to get it. If it’s not up on one of the sites, ask your agent or manager if it can be e-mailed or faxed. If not, get to the audition early. When there is copy, the more time you have with it in a quiet environment, the better your preparation.
Investigate, motivate, find your connection and make choices. Prepare several interpretations. Professionals usually approach theatrical auditions working with a “who,” “what,” “where,” and “why.” Yet many don’t consider using these acting basics for commercials. If they work in every other medium, why would they not be of value for commercials? – especially now when the tone for most of them is underplayed, natural and realistic. Many actors feel that all they have to do is memorize the material to be prepared. Memorization can be helpful but finding your own connection to and interpretation of the role and material, I believe is much more valuable.
I strongly believe that if you prepare with these basic acting tools they will help you to do better auditions.
Select wardrobe: Wardrobe helps define the character for the actor and offers a visual image for “the powers that be.” On the casting breakdown, in the script, or from your representation, ascertain what kind of wardrobe you should wear.
Don’t be on time: – BE EARLY
When you are early you have options. If you arrive at the audition early and there a lots of actors waiting then go ahead, sign in and go prepare. If you get there early and there are just a few actors, look at your script or story board, prepare and relax yourself for a few minutes then sign in on time. You work too hard to get auditions, you never want to feel hassled so you can’t do your best work in the audition room.
I recommend that you leave plenty of time (when possible) to travel to your commercial auditions so that even with traffic, maybe getting lost and finding parking, you can be early.
Walk around while rehearsing at your audition: With dialogue, while you are preparing, walk someplace close by to rehearse in your full voice. When some actors sit and rehearse quietly, it is sometimes tricky to go on-camera and switch to their full voice. Some even speak in an “airy” voice which can be disempowering to their audition. Also, walking around and speaking in your full voice helps maintain a good energy. Be sure to keep an eye on how the session is running so that they don’t have to go looking for you.
Stay focused: While waiting in the lobby, prepare (or if you have already done so) then review your choices and put yourself in a relaxed, positive and confident state of mind. Focusing yourself this way, I believe can really make a difference for most actors. If you see friends at the audition, feel free (if there is time) socialize for and few minutes then go back to relaxing and focusing your energy.
There is a lot involved in learning to do your best at commercial auditions. For additional insights and tips, check out my book Hit The Ground Running @ www.hitthegroundrunningbook.com and for more information on Commercial Acting Classes: http://carolynebarry.com/workshops/commercial/
One of the wonderful things about comedy is that your funny ideas are limited only by your imagination. In your standup routines or sketches, the President of the United States can belt out opera, Disney Princesses can rap, and Jennifer Lopez can actually sing..
We would like to congratulate 4 of our Master Talent Teachers, for winning Backstage West’s LA Readers Choice Awards for Favorite Teacher. Master Talent Teachers strives to provide the highest caliber entertainment coaching for artists of all levels, and we thank You for your Support.
Joe Tremaine of Tremaine Dance Conventions interviews dance agents, choreographers and dancers of all ages who contribute to give you tips on pursuing your professional dance career. Advice from Keri LaGrand, Lindsay Webb, Jerry Evans, Shelli Margheritis, Tim O’Brien and Zach Woodlee.
Listening Part 3 – Give and Take and Raising the Stakes by Kimberly Jentzen
In this video, Kimberly Jentzen guides actors, Brianne La Flair and Roman Banfield, as they explore the acting tool: Listening. Some acting classes in Los Angeles focus entirely on this skill. Listening is paramount in acting, and understanding how to inspire the delivery of your lines through the process of listening to your scene partner is vital. Much of what we see in film and television acting incorporates the ability to listen, and then react naturally and instinctively. There are so many ways we listen, but the most important awareness the actor must have is to take note of what motivates the character to listen.
We are motivated to listen when there are consequences that matter deeply to us.
In every drama and comedy there is always something at stake; something that could be taken from the character or something the character needs that they are fighting to get. There may be news your character is waiting for, or actions, or results that will satisfy your character’s desires and what they are hoping to achieve in the scene.
To master listening, listen for what your character wants to hear or feel from the other character… Listen with a hunger to get something that is vital to your happiness or survival.
Characters have a range of desires. Some want attention, affection, satisfaction, approval, money, sex, power, control… any one of these could be the very objective played for your next audition or performance. Or, it could be order, that your character needs, or redemption, forgiveness, a meal, a friend, etc. It could be anything that is true to the script and the material you are working. Use your imagination and study the character. Eventually you will discover the character’s desire or need.
Every character wants something from their scene partner that is intrinsic; something that will help them reach their ideal life.
A chapter in my book, Acting with Impact: Power Tools to Ignite the Actor’s Performance, is dedicated to this power tool. I like to call the objective a “power tool” too, because it is one of the parameters that dictate the give and take with your scene partner. And actors, you know how important that is! And new actors, if you didn’t, hopefully you know now!
In the video I mention the performances from the film Sophies Choice, directed by Alan J. Pakula. Sophie, (Meryl Streep) is haunted by her past, which is revealed in the scene in which she opens up to Stingo (Peter MacNicol). Ashamed and still emotionally tortured by her memories, she bares the horrors of how she was sent to a concentration camp and how she survived. Sophie desperately wants forgiveness for her actions. In the scene, Stingo wants to take her pain away and to comfort and reassure her.
In the Oscar award-winning film, Forrest Gump, directed by Robert Zemeckis, Forrest (Tom Hanks) wants love (the girl of his dreams), Jenny (Robin Wright). But Jenny wants to escape and find the peace she has never known which was stolen from her when she was a little girl. Mrs. Gump (Sally Field) wants her son Forrest, to have a normal life. Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise) at the top of the film, wants to die and follow in his family’s footsteps as a true soldier who died for his country.
Each character cares deeply for their goal, regardless of how difficult it might be to get it.
A character’s objective doesn’t change unless a pivotal event happens that shapes the character’s decisions and actions. Take note, that in most films, each character’s objectives are very unique and different from the other. It’s important to choose a strong and active objective that is born out of and aligns with your character in the script. It also is advised to know how to break down a script and analyze it to discover the strongest and most active objective. And yes, I will be bringing you an introduction to script analysis soon! Please visit www.MasterTalentTeachers.com often!