Holly Powell Audition Technique

Walking Into The Audition Room

By: Holly Powell

They call your name. The viewers are looking at you when you walk in the door to see if you are at all right for the part. First impressions are everything. If you walk in nervous or seem unprepared we can spot it a mile away and don’t want to take the 3 minutes to read you. If you do feel nervous or unprepared out in the audition lobby, I want you to think of something you do in your life that makes you feel confident. Are you great at singing, cooking, playing tennis? Watch how your body adjusts: your shoulders go back, your chest moves from caved-in to centered…and then walk into the room. Your body language has sent the “confidence” signal to your brain so that you now actually start to feel confident! So as your body “fakes confidence”, your thoughts become confident…”Fake It Till You Make It”!

You must treat walking into the audition room like the moment before you walk onstage from the wings when doing a play. You must be in your “zone” or your “bubble”, with the mental focus of an athlete. As you enter the audition room you need to be in a hybrid state: a focused actor ready to go, looking the Casting Director, Director or Producers in the eye and say “Hello”. Just by saying “Hi”, we get a taste of your personality. The “Hi” can let us know that you will show up on time to the set, know your lines, be courteous to your fellow actors and not complain about the size of your trailer. Or not!

When I talk about walking into the room with the mental focus of an athlete, I don’t mean that you should walk into the room in character. DON’T WALK INTO THE ROOM IN CHARACTER! There have been a few actors in my classes who have been told to walk into the room in character, and in doing so had disastrous results…or maybe confusing results. One walked in, in character, and the role was for a drug addict. Her Agent was called by the Casting Director and said that the actress was really on drugs. One actor auditioned for “an asshole bad guy” and walked into the room in character. After the audition was over, he continued to chat with the Casting Director in character…and of
course, the Casting Director thought he was a jerk and didn’t want him any where near the set. If the Casting Director or Producer or Director chat with you, they are trying to get to know YOU. Not who the character is. Your audition will show them who the character is.

So, walk into the audition room with confidence…a focused, prepared actor ready to go who has made specific choices. Just by saying “Hi” the viewers will get a taste of your personality. And the good news is, you are only in the audition room for 3 minutes! And, “You Can Do Anything For 3 Minutes”. (The title of Holly’s upcoming book on “Auditioning”).

Carolyne Barry Commercials

Acting Workshops vs. Scene Study Classes

by: Carolyne Barry

When you are ready to start training realize their are numerous techniques to choose from (i.e. Sanford Meisner, Method (Strasberg), Stanislavski, Chekhov, Uta Hagen, or Stella Adler.) Find the one that is right for you.

After researching all the various techniques and auditing different teachers then choose the training discipline you feel is the best fit for you.  Next choose if want to take acting class or scene study.

Often actors think that Scene Study is the way to study acting. Yet, Acting technique classes for many actors is often a better way to build a strong foundation. I used to think that Scene Classes were the same as acting technique classes but have learned the difference and the value.

“Scene study” primarily involves individual scenes or monologues from a play or film, which are assigned to the student actors. The instructor directs and teaches his/her approach using scripts as the vehicle. He/she might have some warm-ups or exercises, but their major focus is the scene work.

Whereas “acting classes” offer a step-by-step process utilizing specific techniques and exercises before scenes are assigned.  Once scenes are introduced to the students, the teacher continues to add more challenging techniques.

Essentially, it is like the difference between a “house-building” class and a carpentry class. One has the instructor t oversee the construction of the project, advising the students everything that needs to be done, helping direct him/her to build a particular house before moving on to the next one. Whereas in a carpentry class, the instructor teaches each student how to master every tool, thus making him a master carpenter first, then he is empowered to go off to work.

The actor who has no clear set of “tools” is more dependent on his scene study teacher, Whereas, a good acting technique teacher teaches the tools to be a great actor then applies them to scripts. (AND there teachers who do both.) For the most part,  a scene study class may initially make students feel good about their scene work, but in truth they will learn more about their scene than they do about themselves as artists. 

Diane Christiansen Kids & Teens

Hidden Factors of Relaxation for the Actor

By: Diane Christiansen

When practicing your Relaxation Exercises, including identifying tension in the muscles and breathing deeply into the lower stomach and exhaling through the mouth very slowly, the actor may find unusually strong feelings welling up within. Tension may re-manifest itself throughout the body even after a deep relaxation is used, and especially in the neck and throat, resulting in a “choked” sensation in the vocal chords. The actor is encouraged at this point to help release the tension by vocalizing a long, sustained “ahhhhh” sound, or a short, staccato “HAH!” to help release both the tension and the emotion.

After practicing this exercise faithfully every day for fifteen minutes to a half hour, the actor develops a “sixth sense” for identifying tension in his body, and this new awareness is especially useful on camera or on stage, where, when the actor feels tension for one reason or another, he simply “identifies where it is, and releases it”.

This relaxation exercise, when mastered, helps the actor identify the tension as it becomes apparent, then release the tension in a manner invisible to the audience. This unwanted tension must be released, or it will block the pure expression of the actor’s instrument.

But learning to properly relax is only a part of the benefit of the Relaxation Exercise. While the actor is learning to relax by identifying tension in individual muscles, he is also learning to develop and strengthen the powers of concentration needed to create the life of the person, animal or “thing” he is representing in the story the author has invented. Remember, to be concentrated, you must be properly relaxed, and to be properly relaxed you must be concentrated.

The extreme degree of concentration the actor applies to identifying tension in the body and mind during the Relaxation Exercise will make the exercise itself very tedious. Human beings don’t seem to enjoy concentrating for extended periods of time unless the object of their attention has some immediate gratification for them.
But the actor, not unlike the painter, the musician or the physician, must find a way to practice the more mundane elements of the art in ways that are stimulating, exciting and fun.

Savvy Actor Business

What Does it Really Mean to Get S#@t Done?

by: Savvy Actor Career Coach Doug Shapiro

As an artist and performer, you are running the business of YOU! Let’s look at some business recommendations to be as efficient as we can be in terms of getting things done for our careers.

Let’s say you’ve made your task list of 6 things that HAVE to get done today and you have allotted how much time each one will get. How to prioritize? Here are three schools of thought to help you MAKE A CHOICE and GET THINGS DONE!

Priority Idea #1: PUT IMPORTANT TASKS FIRST!
In his National Bestseller, The Ultimate Sales Machine, Chet Holmes points out that people tend to put important tasks last because they take the most time or most mental concentration. Well, if you put it at the end of the day, you will either not get to it or not have the mental energy to give it the attention it deserved.

Priority Idea #2: START WITH THE TASK THAT WILL BRING IN THE MOST MONEY!
My husband the Financial Advisor comes at it from another angle. We’re running a business, right? If we’re going to finance the growth of our business through mailings, classes, and seeing the shows in which we’ll one day be performing, the money has to come in first.

Priority Idea #3: START WITH A TASK THAT IS SMALL, TANGIBLE, AND FINITE!
Robert Maurer, Ph.D., in his book One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, recommends approaching daunting tasks (such as tackling your huge to-do list) with small steps. This way, it’s less overwhelming, you have a feeling of completion, and can see that no one died. Some of us just need to have a feeling of completion to get the juices flowing and make ourselves ready to dive into the task-list mindset.

Know thyself, choose your method, and begin!

Joe Tremaine

Structure Your Life for Success

By Joe Tremaine

You have chosen a career in the Arts, as an Actor, a Singer, a Dancer, or whatever, and you want to be a success.
Where do you start?
RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE!

You and only you can take charge of your life, your career! If you want to win, train yourself to win. If you want to be successful, train yourself to be successful.
How do I do that?
You Structure your Life for Success!

Make a detailed daily schedule of all the things you want to accomplish and stick to it! Be sure to include all of the mundane things that you need to get done as well as the important career moves you need to accomplish on any particular day.

Write each thing down and then make it happen! You will be amazed at the number of things you can accomplish in a day. Soon you will feel the satisfaction of those accomplishments as you check off the completed tasks! The satisfaction of accomplishment is enormous and sets you free to enjoy your life and advance your career!

This is YOUR Life! YOUR Career! Be hard on Yourself! No Slacking! You ARE the Product!
You want to SELL what you do?
Then you better PROVE IT!

Diane Christiansen Kids & Teens

How to Dress for an Audition

By Master Acting Teacher ~ Diane Christiansen

There are really no hard and fast rules about how to dress for an audition.  For a long while, I thought the one absolute was to never arrive to an audition dressed in costume.  Then I received a note from casting to come dressed as much like a voodoo gypsy as possible.  Another audition notice I received instructed me to wear scrubs for the role of a nurse.  Then of course, there are all of those stories of how celebrities landed some of their most memorable roles by “looking the part.”  Katey Sagal created her signature look as Peggy Bundy in Married With Children by wearing her own red bouffant wig to the audition.  Dorothy Dandridge had to shed her sophisticated image in order to convince Otto Preminger to cast her in the Oscar-nominated role of Carmen Jones by arriving to the audition oozing sex appeal in a brand new getup fit for a “hussy.”  And just this past March, Eva Mendes was featured on the cover of Backstage magazine discussing how she is “breaking out of the bombshell box” in an upcoming drama.  For her audition, she wore a baggy t-shirt and jeans, no make-up, and unkempt hair in order to look like her gritty, no frills character. Even young Jennifer Lawrence was told, at 16, that she was too pretty for an early film role, so after her audition in L.A., she and a parent flew all night to N.Y., to follow the Casting Director and arrived with no make up, uncombed hair and unkept. She convinced them. (Bold Parents!!) I guess that means the rule about looking your best for every audition is up in smoke too.

So in the absence of any absolute rules about how to dress for an audition or any explicit direction from casting, the best advice is to look to the script for clues.  As you are preparing your role, you should begin to get a sense of who your character is, including how he/she dresses.  As with any choices we make in acting, the choice of dress should be a strong one.  Your style of dress may not rise to the level of costume, but it should definitely suggest who this character is, even before you speak your first line.  Neglecting to make a character choice about what to wear may cloud the picture of you in the role, particularly if your personal style contradicts that of the character.  Or worse, dressing haphazardly may inadvertently send an altogether negative message about your level of professionalism.  Right or wrong, making a strong choice for your character, in style of dress or otherwise, will at least convey commitment to the role and possibly pique the interest of casting.  So dress for success!

iDalis De Leon Hosting

How to Find a Talent Agent, Part 2

By Master TV Host Teacher IDalis De Leon

How to Get an Agent Part 2Let me start by saying there is no one way to get an agent. Everyone has different journeys and different talent brands. So let’s say you’ve been so busy “doing the work”, building credits like you are supposed to, and you haven’t had a proper agent relationship in a few years. It’s time to buckle down and put you on the market as a hot unsigned talent looking for representation.

  1. FIRST things first-Make sure before you look for an agent you have three things:
    1. A STRONG REEL: Evidence of your work and talent brand abilities
    2. CREDITS (jobs and training) for actors: Inde projects, web projects and student films,
      for hosts: journalism (writing )credits, live event credits, red carpet, movie junkets, and local tv station credits
    3. GREAT HEADSHOTS to get you in the room
  2. Get your Online Presence together: Revamp your Facebook, build your Twitter, and launch your Youtube Channel: Take off the photos of you doing jello shots at your cousins bachelor party, replace them with great photos of yourself on set, on a red carpet with a mic in your hand. Commit to your talent brand as a business. A big Twitter following is essential for hosts, it was the second question a Dick Clark Productions Executive posed to one of my hosts who was applying for a job to cover the red carpet for the Oscars. How many twitter followers do you have, he asked as he waited for her response? At least 10,000 and above is apparently respectable. Launch your Youtube Channel for your video projects, demo reel clips, class scenes, student films indie film scenes and begin to build an online presence that says working actor, working host, working reporter or new media journalist. When they Google your name, what will they find?

    *An agent can only be as good as you as marketing material you give them to work with.

  3. Research IMDB PRO: Find you own method of research here, whether its looking up your favorite shows and and seeing who casts them, or credits you can acquire through which casting director or what agent represents what actors and what style of genre and actor they are normally looking for. Invaluable resource for actors, directors and writers.
  4. COLD CALL: Make a list of actor friends & hosts who work. Write a personal email to each one indicating that you’ve done your homework and you think that their agent might be a right fit and if you could just use their name when you submit your material you would be very grateful. As long as you have a referral, a cold call becomes a warm call. Call the agent assistant and say “ Hi, I know one of your clients “so and so” and I am looking for representation, I am a working actor/host. What’s the best way to send you my material? Then send your material, wait a week, if you don’t hear from them follow up.
  5. Go to Idalismedia.com for a list of Host Agents. Now Casting, Backstage, LA Casting have PDF downloads of agency listing for actors. These listings are everywhere. Stop and create your own list from your research. Make a list of your top 20 choices and then another 20 you wouldn’t say no to. These 40 are the agents you should focus on and just go down the checklist as you research and approach each one about representation. Takes notes and keep track. Someone will sign you especially if you are staying busy.
  6. Traditional Methods still work: Targeted mailings, postcards, attending events, networking, making connections, showcasing your work on stage or hosting a live event red carpet or movie junket and joining organizations that keep your work in front of people.