walking into the Audition Room

Walking Into The Audition Room

The audition begins for the viewers when the actor walks into the audition room. That first impression of the actor can determine whether the viewers want to take 3 minutes to read the actor – or not. They want to see a confident actor who is focused, prepared, and ready for the audition. They want an actor to take control of the room and make eye contact as they say “Hello”. They want the actor to solve their problem of needing to cast this part and, believe it or not, they are rooting for the actor. But, if the actor walks into the room looking down, mumbling, and looking like a deer in the headlights, the viewers will assume this is either an actor who is very nervous, unprepared or inexperienced. They have tuned you out and don’t want to bother reading you even before you say your first line.

The audition begins for the actor when they are in the lobby; BEFORE they walk into the audition room. Walking through the door should be “part of the act”….acting the part of a confident actor… even if they don’t feel confident. If the actor does not feel confident, they should fake confidence: “Fake It Till You Make It”. As you walk from the waiting room into the audition room, treat it as if you are going from the wings of a theater onto the stage. Get into your zone, bubble, mental focus…whatever you call it…and begin your audition as you walk through the audition door, a confident actor taking control of the room.

Behavior influences thought. If an actor feels nervous or unprepared before walking into the audition room, they should try imitating a confident walk or assume a confident stance. The “feeling” of confidence in the body fakes the mind into “feeling” confident. So when the actor is waiting in the lobby, before their name is called, their mental focus should be that of an athlete…focused and ready to walk into the room.

As the actor walks into the audition room, they should make eye contact and say “Hello”, entering the room in a hybrid state…NOT in character…but focused and ready to go. If an actor chooses to walk into the room “in character”, it can backfire in a big way. The part the actor is auditioning for could be described as a jerk, a drug addict or arrogant. If you say “Hello” as the character would say “Hello”…not as yourself…it is possible the viewers will think you are really a jerk, a drug addict or arrogant. I have seen this happen during my years as a Casting Director, and the actor needs to remember that just the act of saying “Hello”, may be the only moment that shows they are an OK human being who will show up on time if cast, be civil to their fellow actors, and will learn their lines.

The actor should take control of the room and make it their space for 3 minutes. A chair is usually provided for the actor to use if they would like, and moving the chair to where the actor would like it to be, is a great way to take control of the room. Right off the bat the viewers can see the actor has made choices and is prepared. Five seconds should be taken before the audition begins so the actor can make the transition from walking into the room… into the scene itself. The viewers also need this transition time before they watch the scene, so if chit-chat happens, taking five seconds helps everyone have a moment to adjust. There are four tools the actor should use during these five seconds to help with this transition…

(1) Sense Of Place: Where does the scene take place

(2) Relationship: Who is the character talking to in the scene, and how does the character feel about that person

(3) Intention: What does the character want at the top of the scene

(4) Pre-Beat: What happens the moment before the scene starts

Once the scene gets going, the actor should LISTEN to the reader! This is the best tool an actor can use in an audition. “Listening” grounds the actor in the scene instead of anticipating what their next line will be. If an actor is not “listening”, the viewers can see it…they will know that the actor is not “present” in the scene. The last tool in the actor’s audition arsenal, is RESPOND IN THE LISTENING. Most Television and Film auditions are put on tape, and the viewers of the audition tape only see a close up of the actor…they don’t see the reader. It is very important that an actor genuinely “listen” and “respond in the listening”, so when the viewer watches the tape, they can see the thoughts going through the actors head …they see an actor who is present and in the moment of the scene.

Walking into the room is a skill that can be mastered with a confident mind set and the use of simple audition tools. The actor should walk into the audition room as an athlete would walk onto the field, dive into the pool, or step onto the mound. Having the mental focus of an athlete will help the actor conquer the first step in the audition process…walking into the audition room.

Reading For Studio Executives: Auditioning For a Series Regular Role on Television

When the Producers decide that they want to take you over to read for the Studio Executives, you first have to make a “test” deal before you are allowed to read for them. This happens because the Studio wants to know how much you will cost before they “buy” you. The Casting Director calls your Agent for “quotes”. Your quotes are the amount of money you have earned for individual acting jobs, but when negotiating a series deal, the only quotes that really apply are if you have booked a pilot or series before, or if you have “tested” for a pilot before. (Example: If you have tested for a pilot before and negotiated the contract to be $30 thousand for the pilot and $15 thousand an episode, your quotes will be 30/15. It is normal for your episodic price to be half the money you made on the pilot.) If you have never “tested” before, you probably have “no quotes”.

The Business Affairs lawyers at the Studio will be making your deal with your Agent, Manager or Lawyer. Technically, a Manager is not allowed to negotiate, so if you only have a Manager you will need to bring on a Lawyer or Agent to close the deal. They will have to structure a contract that includes your pilot fee, your episodic fee if picked up for series, and what “bumps” you get in salary over probably a 5 to 7 year period. (Sometimes merchandising, size of trailer, loop days, etc will be negotiated here.)

The amount of money that the production has budgeted for each part will determine if they can afford you or save money on you, and it is your Agents job to get as much money for you as they can regardless of your quotes! This process can often be very contentious to say the least, so it is in the actors best interest to let your negotiators do their job. And the actor should concentrate on their job…being consistent in the next audition. The talk of money can lead to big dreams for the actor, and I have talked to many, many actors over the years who know they blew it in their read for the Studio because they were thinking…”If I get this job, I can buy that car!”. So it is imperative that you have your mental focus on the scene…not money.

When your deal is closed, you will go over to the Studio that is producing the pilot (Warner Brothers, Disney, Universal, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox, etc.) and read for the Head of the Studio for Television Programming, the Head of Casting, the VP’s of Comedy or Drama Development, among others. Along with your Producers, you could have 10 or more people in the room. You will see in the lobby the other actors who are “testing” for your part and possibly actors reading for other parts. It’s not uncommon to have you sign your contract right there in the lobby, so make sure you get there early so you can read it over and make sure it is correct. Then get into a corner and begin your concentration and focus on your job as an actor.

There is generally no chit chat when you walk into the Studio read…just “Hi”, read, “Bye”. Make sure you take a moment when in the room to locate who you will be reading with and take your 5 to 10 seconds to focus yourself before starting. When you leave the room make sure you don’t leave the building until told you can leave. It’s possible you could be “mixed and matched” with other actors reading other parts.

It is at this point that the Studio Executives and the Producers will decide if they want to take the final step of “testing” you at the Network.

Please visit www.mastertalentteachers.com to view Holly Powell’s video “Reading For Studio Executives: Auditioning For A Series Regular Role On Television”.

The Inside Scoop: A Conversation with Casting Director Caroline Liem Part 1

Written by: Holly Powell

I sat down and had a great conversation with Casting Director Caroline Liem who has worked in many different areas and mediums of casting. She has worked on Television Pilots and Series, Feature Films, Voice Over for animation and was Head of Casting for Jimmy Kimmel Live!. She started out in casting working with a big LA casting office UDK…Ulrich, Dawson, Kritzer…and then worked for Disney in both the Television department with Keli Lee and the Feature department with Marcia Ross. From there she went into independent casting working with many top Casting Directors such as Roger Mussenden and Debbie Barylski.

The Voice Over Audition Process

  • Everything is online for Voice Over auditions.
  • Actors put themselves on audiotape for a specific role either at their home studio or at their Agents office.
  • The casting process is much like a theatrical audition. The Casting Director reaches out to Agents and sends them the breakdown of the roles being cast. Agents offer suggestions of actors from their list and the Casting Director requests specific actors availability.
  • The Casting Director gets links of these audiotapes and presents them to their Director and Producer.
  • The Studio is usually the one who makes the final casting decisions.
  • The Voice Over casting process is very similar to how a Feature Film is cast where the Studio has to approve who is cast, and it is also similar to the casting process for a Television Pilot where the Network has to sign off on casting choices.
  • The only difference between casting for Voice Over, Feature Film and Television is the speed with which they are done.

The Late Show Casting Process-Jimmy Kimmel Live!

  • Casting a late night show is very different because there is a new show every day. From the moment the Casting Director arrives until the show is taped that evening, they are working closely with the Writers, Director and Producers to cast the sketch actors needed for the new show that night.
  • Agents are called in the early afternoon and certain actors are discussed who might be right for the show that evening. The Casting Director needs to determine where the actor is physically to ensure that they can make it to the set on time.
  • The Casting Director for late night television doesn’t have time to hold casting sessions, so current tape is shown to the Producers from various sources such as Funny Or Die, You Tube, current demo reels, or video of actors met in the office that week.
  • Caroline says she constantly needs actors to be at her fingertips, so she goes to lots of theatre, stand-up comedy clubs, sketch shows, looks at demo reels, gets recommendations from people, and meets new actors every week.
  • If an actor is “not right” for the current part being cast, they are always remembered for other shows and projects if they do good work. The actor should remember that a lot of times “casting” is about things they cannot control… things like their age, height or skin color. Don’t go to an audition to book a particular role. Go to an audition so the Casting Director can see your best work.

Advice For Actors Moving To LA

  • Get a working car!
  • The bus system is very slow and drains an actor so they can’t do the work they’ve trained to do.
  • A lot of actors move to LA from New York and don’t understand that LA is a car society.

The Importance Of Acting Classes In LA

  • A lot of college students who have taken 4 years of acting classes, often don’t want to jump into another acting class when they arrive in LA. Caroline asks that actors look at it another way.
  • Every connection you make is an opportunity for your future. The person who you meet in acting class who is running the camera could be next years big filmmaker at Sundance.
  • You always have something to learn from everybody. Acting classes are great for networking. You’ve got to create your own community.

Pictures

  • The actors picture is their calling card. It’s what gets you through the gate.
  • A lot of pictures are submitted on-line now. So the actor needs to be sure, when submitting their jpeg, that the viewer can see their face clearly and that the background is not distracting.
  • Only use a professional photographer to take your headshot. If you don’t, and your headshot looks amateurish, we won’t take you seriously as an actor.
  • Interview your photographer. The professional photographer is great to work with and knows what they are doing.
  • Your photographer is only your Director. You are the Producer.
  • You want the picture to look like you. What product are you selling? What is your brand?
  • We want to see your personality come through in your headshot and we want to recognize you when you walk through the door.
  • Keep it specific. Actors should zero in on what roles they would audition for. It all comes down to your brand.

Part 2 of my conversation with Caroline Liem will be my next Master Talent Teachers video.

Casting Director Jason La Padura

Casting Director Jason La Padura: Audition Advice & Tips – Part 3

Jason La Padura has been a Casting Director for 30 years and his long list of Television, Film & Theatre credits include casting all three films of High School Musical, Heros, and Touch to name a few. He also had the privilege and fun of being a judge for The Miss America Pageant. Jason started out casting theatre in New York and eventually moved to Los Angeles forming La Padura/Hart Casting.

I met Jason in New York when I had my first job as a Casting Director at an Off-Off Broadway Theatre Company called Manhattan Punch Line. Jason’s partner, Gary Murphy, was the PR person for MPL and we had cubicles next to each other. Jason was quickly establishing himself as a theatre Casting Director and with his casting partner, Stanley Soble, transitioned with ease into casting television. He eventually moved to Los Angeles and with Natalie Hart, formed La Padura/Hart Casting.

Jason came to speak to my students in one of my Audition Workshops at Holly Powell Studios, and we taped his visit for my Master Talent Teachers Video Series on “Auditioning”. He gave the students so much incredible advice that I have made it into a 3 Part Video Series for MTT.

Part 1

  • The difference in casting for TV, Film and Theatre
  • Chatting with the Casting Director before starting the audition
  • Props or miming in an audition
  • Is there ever a time when it is Ok for an actor to start the audition over?
  • What’s your opinion about when an actor gets through the entire audition and asks if they can do it again?
  • Stage directions
  • What an actor should wear to the audition

Part 2

  • What does a Casting Director expect from an actor in the “callback”?
  • Memorization
  • Non-Represented Actors
  • Non-Union Actors
  • Best way to keep in touch with a Casting Director

Part 3

  • Testing at the Network
  • Going on tape for Executives
  • Do you have any questions?
  • Self taping
  • When do you advocate for an actor?
  • Pet Peeves
Casting Director Jason La Padura

Jason La Padura: Audition Advice & Tips Part 2

I first met Jason La Padura in New York almost 30 years ago. I had my first job as a Casting Director at an Off-Off Broadway Theatre Company called Manhattan Punch Line. Jason’s partner, Gary Murphy, was the PR person for MPL and we had cubicles next to each other. Jason was quickly establishing himself as a theatre Casting Director and with his casting partner, Stanley Soble, transitioned with ease into casting television. He eventually moved to Los Angeles and with Natalie Hart formed La Padura/Hart Casting.

His most high profile job was casting all 3 High School Musical films. But La Padura/Hart have cast Heros, Touch, numerous pilots, series and movies over the years. He also had the privilege and fun of being a judge for The Miss America Pageant!

Jason came to talk to one of my Audition Workshops and he gave them so much valuable information, that I have made this into a 3 Part Video Series.

Part 2 Highlights:

Holly: If you have pre-read an actor and you call them back for Producers, what should their goal be and what are you looking for from that actor?

Jason: I don’t want them to do one thing different from what they’ve already done! You can go further into the character, but don’t change the basic plan. If you read it and say, “Oh wow, I know what I could do with this”…be careful of that. Don’t change it all up and say, “If they thought that was great wait till they see this!”

Holly: One of the biggest questions I get in my classes, is that actors wonder if they have to have the sides memorized for that first pre-read with the Casting Director.

Jason: I don’t care if you’re still on book when reading for me. However, when you are coming in for Producers you have to be off book.

Holly: A lot of “testing” at the Network is done on camera now?

Jason: Yes, both the Studio and Network like to watch actors on tape now. It’s more comfortable and after all, it is helpful to see what the actor looks like on a screen. An actor can photograph very differently from how they look in the room.

Holly: Do you ever call an actor in to audition who is non-Union?

Jason: Yes. On Touch I was bringing in non-Union actors all the time. I needed actors with a special skill set on that show that I couldn’t always find easily. And now with the merger of SAG and AFTRA bringing in non-Union actors isn’t as complicated.

Holly: What if an actor is not represented but sends a picture and resume to you. Do you ever call them in?

Jason: It’s hard. It’s a very tough town. There are 130,000 members of SAG/AFTRA. I cast this movie Amish Grace that was shooting between Thanksgiving and Christmas in Los Angeles, which is very unusual these days. Everyone wanted to do it because of Christmas money and also to catch that last opportunity to make their insurance, even though we were only paying scale. I had 29 roles in the movie and we had 31,000 submissions.

That’s what you are up against. So, you have to have an agent and or a manager. Preferably both. You need as many people on your team pushing you and making phone calls and being pesky.

Again, when I was casting Touch, I needed people who spoke Russian, so I was looking at anyone who had that specific skill set. But generally, no.

Holly: How do you like people to keep in touch with you?

Jason: Postcards. There is a great company out there called Amazing Mail. You can customize your postcards and order as many as you need. I don’t really care what it says on the postcard. It’s the fact that the postcard is coming through on a regular basis and it reminds me that you are out there!

Look for Part 3 of this interview in October, 2013. Actors in Holly’s Audition Workshop will be asking Jason lots of great questions! Plus: Jason’s Audition Pet Peeves!

holly_and_Jason_LaPadura

Casting Director Jason La Padura: Audition Advice & Tips – Part 1

Jason La Padura has been a Casting Director for almost 30 years. His long list of Television, Film & Theatre credits include High School Musical, Heros and Touch to name a few. Jason started out casting theatre in New York and eventually moved to Los Angeles forming La Padura/Hart Casting.

Jason La Padura has been a Casting Director for almost 30 years. His long list of Television, Film & Theatre credits include High School Musical, Heros and Touch to name a few. Jason started out casting theatre in New York and eventually moved to Los Angeles forming La Padura/Hart Casting.

He came to speak to my students in one of my Audition Workshops at Holly Powell Studios, and we taped his visit for my Master Talent Teachers Video Series on “Auditioning”. He gave the students so much incredible advice that I have made it into a 3 Part Video Series for MTT!

In Part 1 we cover some of the following topics:

  • What is the difference in casting for TV, Film and Theatre?
  • Is it a good idea to chat with the Casting Director before starting the audition?
  • How do you feel about using props or miming in an audition?
  • Is there ever a time when it is Ok for an actor to start the audition over?
  • What’s your opinion about when an actor gets through the entire audition and
    asks if they can do it again?
  • How should an actor handle stage directions?
  • What should an actor wear to the audition?

Part 2 & 3 will cover lots of other great audition tips such as:

  • What a Casting Director expects from an actor in the “Callback”
  • Memorization
  • Non-Represented Actors
  • Non-Union Actors
  • Best way to keep in touch with a Casting Director
  • Pet Peeves
The_Language_of_the_Face

The Language of the Face: An Interview with John Sudol

John Sudol has worn many different hats in the Entertainment Industry, as an Actor, Director, Casting Director, Teacher, and he also ran his own Theatre Company in Seattle. For the last 12 years, John has been exploring and teaching a method that he calls “The Language Of The Face”.

The first seed was planted after an audition when John couldn’t give a Director what he wanted. The Director gave John a re-direct a few times, and John left the audition feeling frustrated that nowhere in his tool-box did he have a tool to give the Director what he wanted.

Later, when John became a Commercial Casting Director, he realized that one of the hardest things for an actor to do, was to come into the audition room and give a certain reaction, and even harder was for the actor to give a series of reactions. He noticed that the actors who were successful were doing 4 things:

  1. What was on their face when they did a reaction was recognizable
  2. What was on their face was appropriate; not too big or too small
  3. They moved from one reaction to the next, one thought at a time
  4. They had the ability to repeat exactly what they did

THE 7 UNIVERSAL EMOTIONS

Through research, John found that there are 7 universal emotions that people anywhere on the planet will recognize:

  1. Surprise
  2. Fear
  3. Anger
  4. Sadness
  5. Disgust
  6. Contempt
  7. Happy

As John talked to actors about what they studied, he found that most actors were learning the art of “doing”. They took Improv classes, Acting classes, Voice and Diction classes, Movement classes. But most actors had not studied the nature and experience of an emotion, from subtle to extreme, and how that translates to the face. We all have been taught how to “manage” our emotions…we are taught when we feel it, how we feel it and where we feel it. But, we are never taught, “this is what it looks like”. John said if he knew how to interpret what that Director was asking of him, he could have said, “Oh, you’re talking about loss”.

If there is a distortion between what you feel and what your face is revealing, booking becomes very difficult. People often don’t realize what is on their face.

  • Some peoples face doesn’t say anything
  • Some peoples face talks a little bit
  • Some peoples face talks a lot
  • Some peoples face doesn’t shut up

Most actors are taught that there are two means of emotional communication; through the body and through the voice. But there are three means of non-verbal communication:

  1. The Body
  2. The Voice
  3. The Face

Stanislavski didn’t want to deal with emotions because he thought they were unreliable. One day you will be thinking of a certain situation and feel angry, and the next day you will be thinking about the same situation and feel sad. But, John believes that emotions are incredibly reliable if you use the correct trigger and you know how to guide them.

The actor who comes in and knows how to repeat it, repeat it, repeat it, does it intuitively. If the correct trigger is used each time…the “loss” trigger each time…and focus on that “loss”, that guides you to “sad” and you will have “sad” every time. The actor will know what it feels like and will know how it’s changing on their face. The trigger always has to come from the emotional side first, always stimulus-response. You’re creating it, but your instrument is in alignment with that emotion.

THE 4 MYTHS

  1. It’s all in the eyes
  2. You can move your eyes left and right, you can look up and down and you can role them around in a circle. But the eyes themselves are not expressing emotions. It is the muscles around the eyes…the lids, the brow, the cheekbone, the lips…that reveal the emotion.

  3. On-camera acting is a matter of making stage acting smaller
  4. The difference between a theatre actor and an on-camera actor is not about being too big or too small, it is about working truthfully. There is always a stimulus and response, and are you being appropriate for this venue…what is the “tone” of the show. The “tone” is different on a Nickelodeon show from the “tone” on a CBS show. And the theatre actor may find that what they are doing on-stage is appropriate for the broader acting style of a Nickelodeon show.

  5. If I create it truthfully, honestly, organically it will appear on my face appropriately
  6. Most actors are taught that if they listen to the other actor and focus on the circumstances, that what appears on their face will be appropriate. But, if an actor is feeling an emotion, but it is not coming across on his face, then he thinks he is doing something wrong.

  7. Just think the thought and it will be revealed on your face

Thank goodness this is not true! We have a lot of thoughts that are not automatically revealed on our face. A thought is important and is the impetus to action. But, a thought not connected to a strong idea or opinion will not change your face. But, if you have a thought that has a strong enough opinion, it will change your face. On the flip side, a facial reaction without a thought is an acting lie.

holly_Powell_savvy_actor

The Savvy Actor: An Interview With Jodie Bentley & Kevin Urban

The Savvy Actor: 6 Savvy Steps To Ignite Your Acting Career!

I sat down and had a very savvy conversation with Jodie Bentley and Kevin Urban, co-founders of “The Savvy Actor”. The Savvy Actor was formed when both Jodie and Kevin were struggling with their acting careers. Both of them had a background in marketing and started brainstorming together about how to apply their skills in the business world to the art of acting. Little by little they saw real results as they took fundamental business skills and morphed them for the creative mind.

The Savvy Actor was born out of their desire to share with other actors what they had learned, and now they are bi-coastal between New York and Los Angeles and skype with clients all over the World. Their “Weekend MBA Workshops” focus on “The Six Savvy Steps To Achieve Acting Success”, and client success stories are numerous.

STEP 1 Being An Entrepreneur

When you decided to follow your dream of becoming an actor, the notion of being an entrepreneur or business owner probably never crossed your mind. Jodie and Kevin talk about your MUST. You MUST be passionate about what it is you do. That passion is your entrepreneurial spirit. Why MUST you have an acting career? It’s not doing what you ‘should’ do it’s doing what you MUST do. You MUST connect with your passion.

STEP 2 Being A Project Manager

Most actors try to do it all and spread themselves too thin. Wanting to do it all…TV, film, commercials, musical theatre, dancing, singing…spirals an actor into overwhelm. Actors know what their goals are, but they have no plan of action to achieve them. Jodie and Kevin suggest actors pick a goal and then break that goal down into specific projects and tasks. A goal in itself is not active. Being a project manager includes: defining, planning, mapping and organizing your goals.

STEP 3 Being A Brand Specialist

Actors move to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, etc. and the one thing they think they know, is that they need a headshot and a resume. They spend a lot of time and money on headshots…but they don’t yet know what they are selling. In order to market yourself effectively, you must know what you are selling. BRANDING is the foundation of marketing. And you must know what your Brand is before you can market it.

Actors will sometimes resist Branding themselves, because they think as an actor they are tremendously versatile. But, the reality is that you are a product to sell and you have to figure out what product you are selling. Your Brand is your ESSENCE. It’s the energy you bring with you when you walk through the audition door. It’s understanding your strengths and weaknesses and that sometimes your weaknesses are your strengths.

STEP 4 Being A Marketing Director

You must define your Brand first before you begin marketing. Your marketing materials include: audition material, headshot, resume, cover letters, postcards, reels, websites, targeted mailing list and plan, etc. All your marketing materials must reflect your Brand. So when you walk into the audition room, people know who you are in an instant.

STEP 5 Being A Community Ambassador

A Community Ambassador is a much softer word for Salesman! For many actors “selling” yourself is the hardest part. But, acting is not a go-it-alone business and actors need to find their community, their network…who is on their team. This will include teachers, coaches, hairdressers, doctors, etc. Kevin and Jodie suggest that the collective mind is very powerful, and a support team informs you with different perspectives.

Holly_Powell_Interview

The Inside Scoop: A Conversation with Casting Director Caroline Liem Part 2

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.

How Important Is It To Have An Agent When You First Arrive In Los Angeles?

 

  • It’s more important to train first. Get into a class.
  • The actor should concentrate on building credits before looking for an Agent.
  • Target the Casting Directors and educate yourself about what on-air shows you would be right for…what is your brand.

How Would You Advise Someone To Stay In Touch With You?

  • Don’t send an impersonal form letter. Know the persons name you are targeting and know something about that person so you can be knowledgeable…then ask for what you want.
  • Be specific, addressing the Casting Director by name and the project they are casting by name.

Postcards

  • Unsolicited pictures and resumes usually end up in the trash.
  • Postcards are a great pro-active way to communicate with the Casting Director. They land right on the Casting Directors desk and help them cast the one line or co-star parts.
  • Postcards are a great way to follow up with the Casting Director after they have had you in for an audition.
  • Candy and flowers are overkill. But sending a postcard to the Casting Director…acknowledging that you know there are only so many slots to fill and only so much time…thanking them that on this day it worked out for you to be in the audition room.

The Audition Room

  • The lobby is often a place where actors are sabotaging each other or sabotaging themselves. Own your space, focus and prepare with the mental focus of an athlete.
  • When the actor walks through the audition door, the Casting Director is looking for a confident, relaxed actor who is prepared.

Memorization

  • People memorize differently. If an actor has dyslexia, they have to memorize the material.
  • Other people work better if they understand the story and have a more improvisational approach to memorizing the scene.
  • ALWAYS HOLD THE SIDES! Casting Directors get very nervous if an actor walks into the room without their sides. It sends the signal that you are at performance level, and you are not at performance level. You are a very prepared actor who is making eye contact with the reader and only occasionally glancing at the sides.

Wardrobe

  • An actor should always dress with a suggestion of character…not on the nose.
  • It’s important to wear the same outfit to the callback that you wore in the pre-read, unless the Casting Director has told you to wear something different.
  • The viewers have started to visualize you in the part, and if you change outfits, you might run the risk of that magic disappearing.
  • In Michael Shurtleff’s book “Audition”, Michael gives an example of this happening when a Director did not recognize an actress when she changed from a red sweater to a blue shirt!
  • Casting Directors will often write notes to help them remember an actor, and often will take note of what the actor was wearing to help jog their memory.

The Job Gets Closer

  • After three or four auditions for the same part, the job gets closer and often a money negotiation will happen between your Agents and the Business Affairs people at the Studio producing the show.
  • The actors job is to stay focused and remember their job’s not done yet.
  • All the money talk and contract negotiations is the job of your Agent or Manager.
  • The actors job is to work with the Director and Casting Director.

Props and Mime

  • 95% of the time the actor should not use props or mime the action in the stage directions.
  • The one good prop to use is a phone if the scene calls for it.
  • If there is a lot of action in the stage directions, but the lines in the scene don’t reflect that action, then the actor shouldn’t mime the action. Pare it down to what is the through line.

Pet Peeves

  • Don’t shake hands.
  • Don’t wear cologne or perfume into the audition room.
  • Don’t overstay your welcome.
  • Don’t ask to start the scene over when you are half way through it.
  • Don’t go by the casting office to drop off a picture and resume without an appointment.
  • Don’t crash an audition without an appointment.
  • Don’t throw the Casting Director under the bus by telling the Director that the Casting Director gave you specific directions.
  • Don’t ask in a callback session if you should do the scene the same way you did it in the pre-read.
  • Don’t feel the need to ask a question just because they have asked you if you have any questions.
  • Don’t be a deer in the headlights after the audition.
  • DO leave the room with as much confidence as you walked into the room with!

For more audition tips and advice from casting directors, visit Holly at www.hollypowellstudios.com and www.mastertalentteachers.com

Bringing Your Own Personality to the Part and Making It Right for You

Bringing Your Own Personality to the Part and Making It Right for You
by: Holly Powell

The biggest mistake an actor can make when preparing for an audition is that they try to figure out what “THEY” are looking for. Actors will squash their initial instincts when first reading audition sides, attempting to fit in to what they “THINK” the Producers want. They believe there must be a right choice and a wrong choice.

The most freeing moment for an actor when prepping for an audition, is when they realize that the Casting Director, Director and Producer want the actor to make a bold choice that is different from the choice everyone else has been making. And that bold choice is your own personality.

In my 4 week audition workshops I like to give 2 different actors the same audition sides to work on. This simulates the real audition experience. When in the lobby, actors tend to focus on their competition…they see that every other actor is dressed in similar clothing and decide they must have worn the wrong outfit, they become aware that all the other actors in the lobby are younger than they are, they notice they are a different ethnicity from all the other actors in the lobby, they hear another actors audition through the door and become convinced that their choices are all wrong…thereby sabotaging themselves before they even walk through the audition room door.

The writer has written an outline and description of a character. But, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that particular description. Let’s say the writers description of a character says: “30 years old and Asian”. Does that mean that the actress MUST be Asian for a script reason? Or is it that the writer likes the IDEA of this part being cast with an Asian actress, but ethnicity has nothing to do with the storyline? If you are 50 years old and African American and the Casting Director calls you in to read for this part, believe me she knows that you are not Asian and not 30. It means that the original description of this character has opened up to any ethnicity and a wider age range.

I always say that Television is a personality driven business. Don’t ever tell yourself you are wrong for the part. The Casting Director has seen your picture and resume and has called you in for a reason. You can’t change the color of your skin, your age or your height. But, the writers can change those things if it doesn’t have any bearing on the storyline. So, don’t question why the Casting Director brought you in. Bring yourself to the part and make it right for you.