Have you got rhythm? Because a different one is needed for every audition.

We’ve just been through yet another tiring yet hopefully wonderful Christmas spent with family and friends.

I am sure you would have found yourself in various group dynamics with different relationships and this is what we are talking about today.

You would have been in a small group, a one on one, or a large Christmas gathering. Whatever the situation, did you notice the different rhythms of speech that happened, depending on the different situation, environment, people you were with.

But when you’re in an audition situation, 9 times out of 10, you are in exactly the same position, facing the reader and directing every line to that person. Your relationship partner.

Now go back to your Christmas party, Christmas dinner with family, whatever situation you happen to find yourself in, were you aware of how your body language changed? And how your physical relationship to that person you’re communicating with changes, depending on the relationship you have with them? This is what we mean by your rhythm changes.

Be aware of this for your next audition. Your rhythm changes given the situation.

Our Creating Compelling Characters starts Jan 14th.

Get ready for the new year to be memorable.

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Twelve important tips worth remembering for your 2019 Self Tapes

An important aspect of a self tape is to not just know your character, but also get
your framing and technical bits up to scratch.

A couple of pointers:

  • Framing – We find the best framing to be from just below the shoulders to
    top of the head (mid shot)
  • Be sure your backdrop fits the scene of the character. If you are outside, as much as possible, film it outside. The most important thing to remember is does the back drop feed your character?
  • If you are filming on an iphone DO NOT shoot it vertically. Always horizontal!
  • Make sure the light is in front of you not behind. In other words never shoot with window behind you.
  • If you are using a sheet as a backdrop always be sure it is ironed. Nothing more distracting than a wrinkly sheet!
  • Slate – When you slate your self tape be sure it is not 3 years old showing you with short hair. Be sure to use the same slate for all your self tapes so there is consistency which shows your brand. Above all be sure it is establishing you as a professional..
  • Costume – Does it feed the character? And don’t be afraid to show skin. But not too much!
  • Make it easy for the Decision Makers by labeling your self tapes clearly. Your name, your agent and contact details, the name of the project and the role.
  • Be mindful of where you place your reader. Not too close to the camera so that they are louder than you.
  • Remember your eyes are your expression. Make sure we see your eyeballs. Lead with your eyes.
  • This is a screen test not to test your ability, but to test your suitability. Therefore performance does not have to be perfect.
  • Always be familiar with the script so that if you do forget your lines, you always stay in character by improvising until the lines come. Sometimes it is OK to hold the side but always check to be sure.

The most important aspect of a self tape or an audition in the room is to be

Our Creating Compelling Characters starts Jan 14th.

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Why does a Casting Director Get you in for an Audition?

Your natural charm and ability is the obvious reason. But if that is the case, why don’t they get you in more often?

If it is your ability, then why don’t they get you in for a range of roles?

A Casting Director has a perception of you. An attitude, an opinion. To which you say ….. OMG, what do they think of me? You reason that if they are getting you into their room, they think you are hugely talented.

The question you need to answer is this:

Are you there because you can play any role?
Or are you there because they think you are right for THIS role?

This role. What is it? If you can dissect the role, the project etc and unpack what is the essence of this role, you have worked out how you are perceived by THIS Casting Director.

And of course, it may be different with another Casting Director. You are there because the Casting Director thinks you have a quality (or a look) that is right for a particular role. As far as they are concerned, this is your strength.

It is important for you to understand how they perceive you. If you can do that, now you have identified your strength (one of your strengths!).

What do you do with that information? You double down. If they get you in for tough guys, make sure you self tape tough guy characters and make sure they get that tape.

Yes, we are saying make a tape for one particular Casting Director. But show them more complexity in the character, or perhaps how you handle a bigger role, or a similar character with depth and dimension.

Actors always keep doing their tapes and auditions and never analyse ….. why? Why me? Why this role? Why this size role?

You see by having an understanding of why a particular Casting Director gets you in, now you have a chance of answering the bigger question:

Why not me?

Because you need to address the elephant in the room. What have I done wrong to this Casting Director, because they never see me?

Like any person or business in a market place, you need to analyse what works for you …. And what doesn’t.

Because until you have that information, you will never make choices and decisions that move your career forward.

If you cannot answer Why Me? Then you will never ever answer Why not me?

Our Creating Compelling Characters starts January 14. Places are limited.

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Have you earned actor success?

Have you earned actor success?

Or have you just graduated from drama school believing you will now be successful due to all your training?

It is that time of year when I am talking to various drama and acting schools. For many of the students, they have had the most creatively satisfying time of their life.
Being stretched emotionally and conceptually every day. In an environment that celebrates and supports ….. potential.

Not ability. Not success. Potential

What will those students do with their potential? What will any actor do with potential?

In the summer months, we go to the pool or the beach, we have learned how to swim, so we can simply enjoy a social time in the water. We may have the potential to be a representative swimmer or surfer, but hey, we are happy. Satisfied with the pleasure it brings us. We do not need to succeed in water sports to achieve contentment.

So the potential we may have, is forgone for simple gratification of being in the water

Or for an actor, we are satisfied with the simple gratification of being in front of the camera.

Whether you are a drama school grad or not, you have potential.

The question though is: what are you going to do with it?

Are you simply happy to be in front of the camera, trying a new scene. Or do you want to make a decision to move forward?

The choice is yours. But if you are determined to realise your potential, stop being fulfilled by simply doing a new scene in front of the camera and start to focus on what roles and characters are bubbling away inside of you that will turn heads.

Because when people look at you twice, they see your potential.

Creating Compelling Characters starts January 14. Places are limited.

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What should Actors Prep for in their Next Audition?

A lot of drama teachers and actors will have you believe that the only criteria we use for audition success is your ability.

A lot of drama teachers will have you believe that the only way to audition success is through scene and character analysis.

In my 30+ years of casting, I would say they are right.

But only if you take out the word “only”.

To succeed as an actor in the long term – that is, to have a career – I believe you need consummate ability and intelligent analysis of character and scene. Your performance career needs these skills.

But being in the audition space, delivering a memorable experience, in an environment of zero creativity and maximum tension, requires a different skill set.

Or am I wrong?

Did you get the job every time you really nailed your audition? You didn’t, did you?

Did you not get a call back after a tragically, confidence destroying, hopeless audition? But every now and then a bad audition does get you a call back.

Your audition prep should not simply be about the performance.

What actor can say their technique or training can realistically get you more work? To book more jobs?

Frankly, I don’t know how anyone can make that claim. The criteria for making a decision to go with one actor or another ebbs and flows. In the course of casting, we may favour a different actor for a role several times before the day comes to make a decision.

One of the main reasons is that the final decision involves so many people. How many producers get a credit on successful TV shows? All of them have a say.

What an actor can strive for though, is to get more auditions.

Because the choice of who gets an audition is usually down to one person: the casting director.

And if your acting class has weaved it’s magic and you are impressive in the room, you stand a good chance of booking the job.

The trick, though, is to get into the room in the first place.

The opportunity.

If You Could Audition For One Role, Which Role Would It Be?

Okay, I’m going to grant you one wish and that is to have any audition you want. Whatever role you want to audition for, you can audition for. Which role are you going to choose?

Now are you going to choose the major leading role in a studio picture? Therefore if you get that audition, will you get the part? If not you’ve wasted a wish. Your wish should be to audition for the role you were born to play.

At this stage in your career, what is the role you were born to play? What is the next role in your career? What is the next role you would be ideal for in terms of character and in terms of the production and size of the role?

That’s the role you need to be chasing. The role you were born to play, not the role you dream of playing. Otherwise you’ve wasted a wish haven’t you?

Casting Directors Hate This In Auditions

I came back from holiday recently, and on holidays is when I read all the books I try and keep up with and can’t when I’m reading scripts. A book I read was ‘Silkworm’ by Robert Galbraith.

The book described a character as ‘a reliable pursuer of the obvious’. You think of that kind of person. Who is a reliable pursuer of the obvious?

You think someone who’s really conservative, narrow focused, narrow thinking. They’re not imaginative and spontaneous.

The point I’m making is when I go into the audition space if you give me a faithful rendition of what’s in the sides. So many actors do. If I’m seeing 20, 30 people I guarantee 80% of them are following it, right down to the punctuation.

What does that make them? It makes them a reliable pursuer of the obvious.

Did you start becoming an actor to be a reliable pursuer of the obvious? Of course you didn’t.

You must take risks. You must be inspiring to the casting director, to the filmmakers, to the decision makers. Because that is what’s going to inspire us, maybe to get this role, maybe not, but more importantly it’s going to inspire us to want to see you again.

You have to deliver individuality and not be a reliable pursuer of the obvious.

What Are Casting Directors Looking For?

I think the problem with actors in terms of success in auditions is that their goal is wrong. You want to show how good an actor you are. No.

I’m a casting director. Take it from me, I’ve seen over 120,000 auditions. I’ve seen people come in and what they want to show is how well they act. That’s not what I’m looking for.

I’m looking for a great, unique, compelling, individual version of the character. Because that’s my job, that’s my journey.

What am I looking for? I’m not looking for a great actor, I’m looking for the character. I’m looking for the person with the right combination of ability and looks and skill and individuality that creates a character that I want to put up on screen. A character that I can cast. An actor whose version of the character I can champion to the director and producer and say ‘You’ve got to give this actor a chance because they will be great in the role’.

But it all comes down to your approach, your thinking, your goal. Your goal at the moment is to be good. Be special. Be individual.

For Actor Audition Success, Prepare Nothing

Johnny Drama Cut OutIn the classic online scene from Entourage, the character Johnny Drama played by Kevin Dillon in his ‘audition’ for CSI that “Just tell me what you want. Because I can do it a million ways

What do you want? Tell me what to do, what to play, what emotion to give and I will gladly give it to you.

Actors say this to me in the audition space all the time. As if the casting director knows the exact emotion or moment to deliver.

All creative art will always be a subjective pursuit.

So it is with acting. And even more so with auditions. Because we are yet to set the character in concrete.

Think of it this way. You pick up the phone and ring your telecommunications provider. Or your bank. You are outraged. They have not provided a promised service. You plan how you are going to deal with them. You are going to be so angry. You know exactly what you are going to say.

But when you arrive at that moment, your feelings, your attitude, your relationship with them has evolved because of all the things that have gone before it. Your emotional journey and your relationship with the call center person has progressed.

If you are able to name exactly how a character feels at a given time (and this is a time is in the future, even 10 seconds in the future) the moment is fake.

The key to audition success is to be brave. Discover your character’s feelings at any time in the script ….. when you arrive at the moment.

Oh yes, it is truly scary. You can plan where you would possibly like to take your character, but the exact emotion, the exact delivery, needs to be flexible. You may be saying the dialogue accurately, but you are improvising the character. Improvising the relationship.

Does Jim Carrey plot and plan what will happen? Will Smith? Kristen Wiig. Johnny Depp?

Of course not. This is the essence of true screen performance

To decide a character’s feeling in advance, during your audition prep, is not a screen actors approach.

Focus on the journey, and the destination will take care of itself.