Whole Body Auditioning

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During a recent meeting with some casting and film director friends about what actors needed to do to book work, two words were repeated again and again: Embodied and personal.

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It is no longer enough to play your idea of the role, you need to be a living, breathing embodiment of the role.

To achieve this high level it’s essential to center your preparation in the body and heart – not the mind. The mind is a literal organ that exists primarily to keep you safe. It will tell you what the piece is about and give you a few obvious ways to play it. If you prepare from the mind – and too many actors do – you won’t be showing the people in the room who you are and how you feel, only what you think.

Your brain will have an opinion about how you feel, your body will know how you feel.

Everything that we experience is taken in thorough the 3 sense doors of the mind, body and heart. The body is the least explored and also the most revealing. We have a physical reaction to everything that happens to us and that reaction is the truest one that we can have, because the body has no agenda but to show you how you feel.

Remember though, it all starts at the very beginning. How you start is how you finish and many actors start their “preparation” before they have relaxed the mind and connected with their body. You only get the first chance with the material once, so make sure that before you begin your mind is calm and focused and your body is awake and energized. This mental and physical positioning will ensure that you are operating at the full strength of your creative (not mental) powers from the very start and that you will continue to do so throughout your preparation.

Here is a way to start your process by establishing a deep connection to the body so that you have access to all of the honest, clear, compelling information that lives there.

Read the piece through out loud feeling your physical reaction to all of your character’s words and all of the other characters words. Let your body tell you how you feel by where you might be tightening or relaxing. Do certain words make your stomach clench or your breath catch in your throat? Do others relax your shoulders and open your chest? Note it all – it’s the most specific information you’ll get about how you truly feel.

Now, note the emotions that the body sensation trigger. For instance, if someone says something that scares you and you tightened the stomach and held the breath, the associated emotions could be fear, or panic or even anger. Allow your body to instruct your heart and reveal your true feelings. These feeling will become strong, connected and honest choices – choices that the brain, by the way, probably wouldn’t have allowed you access to.

Working this way you become the actor who have instills the role with all of the power and truth that results from wrapping your body and heart completely around the words on the page.

The people watching will not be able to separate you from the words and will have no choice but to hire you – they have to, you’re already are the role.

Embodiment in audition is the ability to physically manifest the words on the page. If you have prepared correctly, you arrive at the audition needing to do nothing more than speak, listen and be. You are no longer an actor acting or reading the words, trying to communicate the thoughts of the brain. You are a person being.

Personal embodiment isn’t just the new battle cry in casting, it should be the goal of every actor who is in this not just to book the occasional job, but to have a long, successful career. This is not a time for shortcuts and tricks. It’s a time for the real actors to learn how to connect to their bodies and hearts, step up to the plate and start booking. You’ll never have a better chance than right now.

 


CraigWallace

Craig Wallace’s background in script development combined with his 16 years of coaching actors enables him to find the job getting moments that others miss. His expertise in breaking down text and years of coaching experience has made him “L.A.’s go to private coach.” Sign up for his group or private classes at wallaceauditiontechnique.com

Do You Have An Acting Approach?

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What do you do when you first approach a script? Think about it. What’s going through your head? Are you thinking, “How should I say this?” Or maybe it’s, “I have no idea what they want from me. I wish I had some direction.” Do you find yourself ramping up into your performance and trying to accommodate direction you never got in the first place, then settling on a delivery that only pleased your comfort zone? Well, you’re not alone.

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Regardless of your experience level, most talent settle for ‘good enough’, especially when we’re trying to turnaround 5 or more auditions a day from their home recording set ups. No wonder the failure rate is so steep for voiceovers. To add to this it’s very likely you’re attacking every audition with the same cadence, tempo, volume, and possibly even the same inflection, whether it was appropriate or not. Mostly out of habit more than anything else. The problem with this approach is it’s no approach at all.

Proper technique training develops performance agility, expression, and, among other things, challenges your imagination. It does if you’ve coached with us, that is. Much like circuit training fine-tunes your physical acuity with continued use, technique training conditions your performance muscle. You can’t expect to run a marathon if you don’t train. And, if you consider what your conditioning has been up till the present, coaching adds value to who you are and instills stamina to go the distance in your career. This is why every skill level benefits from proper coaching.

It’s always a challenge to bite the bullet and commit to training, and not just from the onset of your career. All talent need a couple of good coaching sessions no less than twice a year, especially once you’ve been given an approach that allows you to consistently discover the very best performance options and you’re able to fluidly adapt to direction when its offered.

Granted it’s commonly considered there’s no single approach more effective than another. However, that line of thinking tends leave far too many talent without any effective approach whatsoever.

‘Winging it’ isn’t professional because it’s unreliable, and could explain why there are so many one-hit wonders in this profession. You need training.

Every reputable agent, producer, and director wants to be reassured you’ve been well trained as a talent. Natural ability is never enough. Without an effective approach, the adage ‘vision without execution is hallucination’ applies. Technique gives you a process that might not be immediately intuitive, but will achieve improved results in your performance when applied with some routine. It takes practice!

The fact remains that in nearly every performance scenario you’re expected to offer options, rather than a single, solitary take. But, left to your own devices, if you inadvertently condition yourself to only deliver one repetitive performance option, then you will limit your delivery options and only be capable of a single solitary delivery. What makes you valuable as a talent, above all else is the simple fact that you’re capable of a limitless number of remarkable deliveries. Make it your mission at the onset of every audition and every session to discover just a few of them. It’s what you’re paid to deliver. No one is interested in hiring a robot. You’re paid to have a pulse.

Our goal, when we coach, is to man you with exceptional techniques and tools that will condition you to deliver your best while developing your ability to self-direct. Mastering these techniques will make you indispensable to every production you’re involved in, regardless the medium.


kate_mcclanaghan-jpg-644x0_q100Kate McClanaghan is a casting director, producer, and founder of both Big House Casting & Audio (Chicago and Los Angeles) and Actors’ Sound Advice. She’s a seasoned industry veteran and actor who has trained actors and produced demos for more than 5,000 performers over her 30 years in the business. 

McClanaghan has cast and produced thousands of national commercials, including spots for McDonald’s, J.C. Penney, State Farm, Sprint, Chase, and IBM, to name a few, and has produced documentaries and assorted narratives for the likes of HGTV, Discovery Channel, and A&E.

McClanaghan’s unique, custom-tailored approach to establishing, expanding, and maintaining a professional career as a working actor and voiceover performer is detailed in her book “The Sound Advice Encyclopedia of Voice-over & the Business of Being a Working Talent.”

For more information, please visit: http://voiceoverinfo.com

7 Ways TV Commercials Can Help Build Your Television and Film Career

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  1. TV Commercials are the fastest way to get on national television, make great residual income and begin building a recognizable brand in the TV/Film casting community.
  1. The Actors Search! When you do a National Commercial, due to the hundreds of times it runs on television, the exposure can lead to a TV/Film Casting Director that is casting a project calling you in to audition because you fit the type they are looking for in one of the roles they are casting.
  1. Commercial Casting Directors that also cast films. Some Commercial Casting Directors also cast Independent and major Films. When you work well with commercial casting offices you can also get called in to audition for Films.
  1. Commercial Directors that also direct television shows. The Russo Brothers, Ridley Scott, Joe Pytka etc…are Television and Film Directors that also direct TV Commercials. When you work well on-set on a TV Commercial, you will be remembered and favored in casting offices, by Commercial Directors that also direct TV and Film.
  1. Commercials to put on your Theatrical Demo Reel! The “Slice of Life” TV commercial (the 30 second scene in a sitcom type of commercials) can be put on your Theatrical Demo Reel. Some Theatrical Agents even request it as it can help the Agent pitch you for certain TV/Film roles, especially when you don’t have a reel.
  1. On-Camera Audition Skill Building. Some of your TV/Film auditions will be recorded in the Casting Directors office and sent to the Director. Most Scene Study and Improv classes are not on-camera so the actor does not develop the skills needed to audition well at TV/Film castings when being recorded on-camera. All work in our 4 Week Course is done on-camera. Helping the actor build great audition technique skills that are necessary and helpful in TV/Film Casting Offices.
  1. The fastest way to become SAG/AFTRA and make all or most of the money back quickly to regain the dues you had to spend to join the Union (Guild). Moreover, most major TV/Film Casting Directors will not audition you for television shows and films if you are not SAG/AFTRA. Your major TV/Film career trajectory will accelerate when you become SAG/AFTRA. Commercials can help you get there faster!

mikepointer

Booking Coach Mike Pointer of Hey, I Saw Your Commercial! Has helped thousands of actors over the last 17 years book hundreds of national television commercials as well as television and film work. Coach Mike, a successful commercial actor for over 28 years himself, teaches outstanding, cutting edge strategies that has helped hundreds of actors quit their day jobs, and build a successful career in TV commercials. Coach Mike’s powerful on-camera techniques and outstanding business strategies has set a new standard and cutting edge approach in the on-camera commercial training industry. These classes are highly recommended by top commercial agencies as well as top Managers, and Casting Directors that also teach classes!

Commercials – A Slice Of Life

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Hundreds of years ago (well maybe it just seems that long ago) I moved to Los Angeles to be an actress and a singer. Like most people, I was told the way to become an actress and get a TV/film career was to start out in commercials. Well, in those years I did fit the qualifications for a young mom, a girl who loved pizza and someone who loved to be traveling on an airline. So I immediately went out and found a commercial agent who agreed that I had the perfect look. They even gave me a commercial copy to read – I don’t think I was very good at it but they traded my lack of knowledge for my bubbly personality.

I was a speech therapist during my early 20’s so after I taught I would go on these auditions where I would get to know all of the commercial actress’s in my category. In the beginning, it was intimidating as I recognized many of them from actual television commercials. The process was the same. I would get a call from my agent telling me to show up at a certain casting office. I would sign in and then be given the copy of the commercial. I was very nervous because all I did was read it over a few times and hope that I wouldn’t bomb in the audition! That did happen a lot but eventually I began to understand what they were looking for and started to book them. I did so well that I bought a house with the money that I had earned. It was a fun game. Run home to open the mailbox and guess how much money I made that month on a national commercial.

Looking back, the only thing I liked about commercials was the money. I didn’t have “Margie Haber” to teach me that a commercial is a small slice of life. The creation of one line, 2 lines, 2 paragraphs or 2 pages is the same for a commercial, a co-star or guest star, a series regular or a film. It is all about creating the life. All of the commercials I did would have been so much more awarding if I understood that premise. Pizza Hut, American Airlines, Formula 409 and Tang were opportunities to experience the life – to use my imagination and live it.   One commercial was Tang with Florence Henderson. In that commercial I had a child and went to visit my neighbor (Florence Henderson) and we sat on her patio drinking her Tang loving the taste of it. I didn’t know that I could actually create a life for my “character” rather than worry about my lines. I could have said,” I am this person living this life” – what was it like to have a child?  Did I watch her play sports or listen to her playing the piano? What was our ritual before I tucked her in bed? Create my relationship with my neighbor. How often did we come over on a hot summer and sit on the porch drinking Tang and sharing stories of our day – not trying to sell the drink Tang. If you want to see my commercials in the 70s and 80s they are on my “Stop acting” app that you can find on your iphone/ipad or vimeo on demand.

My advice – don’t be technical – create any life and enjoy the process!

 


M_HaberLogo_Photo

With 40 years of experience, Margie Haber is known as Hollywood’s top audition coach. What is it that Margie teaches? The answer to that question is within title of her book:  Margie teaches actorsHow to Get the Part Without Falling Apart.  Margie takes away the “three p’s”- Pain, Panic, and Performance Anxiety- from the cold-reading & audition process and gives back the “Big P” – POWER- to the actor.  She teaches actors her philosophy, “Stop Acting and Start Living the Life”, using her unique 10-step approach to breakdown the slice of life physically and emotionally, rather than intellectually.  Her revolutionary Haber Phrase Technique has helped thousands of actors use to use the page without losing the life, while supporting relationship and purpose. MargieHaber.com (310) 854-0870

Choosing an Acting Class – Part 2

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In the last article I wrote about the difference between traditional scene study classes and classes that emphasize more experiential training.

Whatever kind of class you are considering you should evaluate how critiques are handled.

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When a scene, exercise, or improv ends, the participants’ experience is not complete until there is a follow-up acknowledgment and/or discussion of their work. In a traditional acting class this process is called the critique, in which the class and/or the teacher give opinions of the participants’ work and judge how well they solved the problem that the teacher may have wanted them to address, or the problem they have set out for themselves to address.

In better classes the critique does not rely solely on authoritarian judgment, but opens doors for further growth in solving the designated problems or challenges. The critique should not only complete the experience, but also provide the participants with insights into areas of their acting that may be improved, and point the way toward making that improvement.

In the best kind of class, if the teacher sees the place for improvement, he or she does not tell it to the participants. He or she presents particular exercises that address the problem area and/or in the critique, asks questions that if answered truthfully, will allow the participant to arrive at any necessary insight him or herself.

Here is an example of the questions and answers that would be appropriate where insight is necessary. Let’s say the participants are doing an improv where the problem they are working on is staying in constant conflict with each other. When the improv is over:

Teacher: Joe, did you stay focused on solving the problem throughout the     improv?

Joe: Yes.

Teacher: Class, do you agree?

Class: No.

Teacher: Joe, what was the acting focus?

Joe: To keep the conflict issue taut and always pull it.

Teacher: Did you do that?

Joe: Yes, I did. Definitely. I was always pulling on the conflict issue, except when Lisa dropped the glass of milk and she started to cry and I went to help her. I was always pulling the conflict issue!

Teacher: Joe, isn’t there a contradiction in what you just said?

Joe: No. Every moment I was focused on pulling the conflict issue except when she was cry— I was…except…she was crying… No! I didn’t keep the conflict issue taut and I definitely didn’t pull on it during the beat when she cried. I dropped the conflict issue when I was helping her. I wasn’t always on the acting focus.

Teacher: Class, do you agree?

Class? Yes.

Teacher: Thanks, Joe. Next.

The teacher knew that Joe had dropped the conflict issue, but instead of telling him, the teacher led Joe to the insight so that the insight would be Joe’s and not the teacher’s. However simple or profound the insight may be, it is better taken and more meaningful if it comes from the actor himself.

This approach also assists the actor to trust his or her own resources and be less dependent on the teacher. Eventually the actor learns how to conduct his own non-judgmental follow-up.

How many times after an unsuccessful audition has an actor wasted an opportunity for learning? Which is more productive, to leave an audition saying to yourself, “Boy, did I louse that up,” or to lead yourself through questions and answers to an insight which shows you where you went off?

In a successful acting class the teacher continuously reminds the actors that the only time they “fail” at something is when they don’t learn from it.

Paying attention to how the teacher handles the critique is always a great indicator of the teacher’s efficacy at being an educator or coach and not a judge.

When the teacher is judgmental, actors frequently feel their egos attacked and respond with their own individual defensive styles instead of being open to further learning. Perhaps this is why you have not liked your previous class.

Critiques may be infused with judgment and authoritarianism in attitude as well as content. The critic’s words often carry a sense of frustration (anger) or patronization (disrespect) or admiration (love).

If the criticism communicates anger or disrespect, the actor’s body tenses up in an armoring posture. The actor becomes a closed system and is unable to benefit from the teacher’s expertise (!). If the criticism communicates love, the actor feels relaxed and happy, and there is nothing wrong with that.

However, with a critical teacher, the class sees that sometimes they will be loved and sometimes punched. The actors quickly ask themselves, “What do I have to do to get the love and not the punch?”

That is the end of productive learning in the class. The actors enter an approval/disapproval relationship with the teacher and the only thing really learned is the dynamic of bribery.

Anything that unnecessarily heightens the teacher’s power is to be avoided. Some teachers thrive on that power and exploit it to elicit unhealthy dependency. It is said that this was the case with Strasberg and his extremely talented student, Marilyn Monroe.

In the question-and-answer follow-up described earlier, Joe returns to his seat thinking, “Of course. I totally dropped the conflict issue when I saw her cry and I helped her. I got it!” His response is positive, appropriate, and productive. His ego hasn’t been attacked, he’s still open to learning, and while he may be a little disappointed that he dropped the conflict issue, he is excited by the clarity of the insight and enthusiastic about trying it again.

When Joe next needs to sustain a conflict beat, either in class or career, he is not likely to drop the conflict issue.

After work on a scene or exercise has been completed an effective teacher moves on to the next exercise or scene. Some teachers lose sight of this and initiate group discussions that become information or personal experience sharing sessions.   These dampen energy, put everyone into the head, and take away from participation time where true experiential learning occurs. If you notice this happening you have another opportunity for evaluating whether this teacher and class is best for you.

In the next article I will be discussing other features of acting classes available for evaluation.


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For the first time in two years, Stephen Book is offering free seminars in Hollywood: Sept. 13, 2016 at 7:30 pm. Or, Oct. 2, at 3:30 pm. To register & info.

 

Stephen Book heads an acting workshop in Hollywood. He is the author of: Book on Acting: Improvisation Technique for the Professional Actor in Film, Theater, and Television; also, The Actor Takes a Meeting: How to Interview Successfully with Agents, Managers, Producers, and Casting Directors. His former students include:  Maura Tierney, David Boreanaz, Carla Gugino, William Hurt, Marg Helgenberger, Tate Donovan, Sanaa Lathan, Mark Valley, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Val Kilmer, Kyra Sedgwick, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Rita Moreno, Adam Ferrara, George Carlin.

Stephen Book Acting Workshop

 

 

The Acting Center Helps Actors Trust Their Instincts

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One of the top-rated acting schools in Los Angeles is The Acting Center. It’s touted as “a new acting and improv school based on a rediscovered technique buried for the last 80 years.” Founded in 2006, the center’s television, film, and theater professors specialize in producing “uniformly confident, completely certain actors who can create any character–in any emotion, in any situation–instantly.” Regardless of an actor’s level of skill or experience, an emphasis is placed on students fully trusting their creative instincts, and honing their authentic expression.

According to the center’s website, the curriculum includes hands-on technique that is “based on learning by doing (versus watching, analyzing, overthinking) and for that reason every actor works in every class and for most of every class.” In the above video, experienced actress Erika Christensen explains how the various methods taught at the school avoid teaching an actor that his or her choices are right or wrong. Instead, she found that she was able to expand beyond what she considered to be her range which she found to be “a completely inspiring experience.”

Another student, Jason Steed, explains how he regained his confidence at The Acting Center. In previous acting classes, instructors had essentially taught the aspiring thespians to question their creative choices. This left Steed, and so many others, feeling insecure. In fact, Steed admits he came to doubt his acting abilities altogether. He contrasts those potentially damaging kinds of instruction with TAC’s approach, saying it’s “a space to create, and that’s what I love…and now I’ve got my acting chops back.” He can confidently enter the audition room doors with the conviction that he’s got something unique to offer. “There’s only one of me, and that’s what the technique is making me realize, that my ideas are unique to everybody else’s.”

Actress Rita Fiora likewise attended TAC, and describes how she used to worry she was wrong in her approach while at auditions. “And then you get in front of the casting director, and you think you’re wrong. And they pick up that you think that you’re wrong, and so obviously you’re wrong. You’re never right for the part.” Since her classwork at TAC, she no longer feels afraid of being critiqued. Instead, the now self-assured actress says, “You know that you’re doing exactly what you know you as the character would do…You’re right for what you would do.”

Most importantly, Christensen, Steed, and Fiora describe their subsequent auditions and role work going to a whole new level after taking the courses. “You think different, you move different, and you might talk different…and you’ve allowed yourself to become someone else without any stops, and it feels like magic. You feel free,” Fiora insists. And after scene study and improv classes at TAC, Christensen asserts that while working on a movie, “I noticed that I didn’t have to contrive any of the emotion or manipulate it, which is fascinating to experience.”

The Acting Center offers courses in scene study, improv for adults, teens and kids, acting for young adults, as well as private coaching.

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What’s so Special about those Skills?

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Most actors list some “special skills” on their resumes, but have you ever stopped to think about how this information actually helps casting know if they should call you in? Do your special skills tell us anything useful? I can promise you that these things have influenced my castings many times in the past.

I have needed all kinds of special skills from actors, so having it on the resume was helpful in order to be called in to read for those parts. Perhaps we need strong swimmers or someone with a martial arts background. Maybe we need someone with proficiency in a language or accent. The character could be a dancer, a surfer or anything else that would require us to see you in action. Having the required skill saves a ton of money for production because we don’t need to hire a double for you every time you are on a horse or surfboard.

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Sometimes we need a character with a specific accent or language. I shot a Korean short a few years back and they wanted characters that could speak fluent Korean. This allowed the director to infuse each scene with a mix of English and Korean dialogue that would seem natural for someone who lives in America but was born in Korea.

If you do put your skills on your resume, please make sure it is something you can do with ease. Don’t put surfing on the resume unless you can do it on set tomorrow and look good doing it. If you used to ride horses as a kid and you put it on your resume, you should hit the stables a couple of times a year to keep it fresh. I had an actor tell us they were good on a horse who then got to set and fell off the horse, almost breaking his leg. That is a great way to burn bridges with everyone involved with the project because you misrepresented your skill level to get a job that should have gone to someone else.

I want to see things like swimming, skiing, surfing, horseback riding and things you might actually have to perform on camera. Your cooking skills will never help me cast you. I don’t need things like typing, computer proficiency, taste in books or anything like those. This is an acting resume and not a profile for an online dating site.

Also, everyone says they are great with animals and kids so leave this off your resume. Your resume should show me things that you can back up. You can tell us how many years you rode horses or ran hurdles. Be specific. Stand out. If you won awards for your gymnastics, tell us on the resume. I don’t need every award ever, but just a clarification of the level you competed at and when you did it. And, again, keep those skills sharp.

If you put it on your resume then it is fair game in the room. When you say you can juggle on your resume be prepared for us to hand you three tennis balls and ask to see you juggle them. When I noticed “magician” on an actor’s resume I asked him for a demonstration and he immediately pulled a coin out of his pocket and showed us some nice sleight of hand. On another occasion, an actress claimed on her resume to be able to do a Paul Lynde impression so I could not resist the temptation to ask her for a sample. She didn’t miss a beat as she launched into one of the best impressions I have ever heard.

When listing things under “special skills” on your acting resume, you should consider if they are actually something that helps us cast you. If not, leave it off. And if you cannot think of anything you would list under “special skills” it might be time to get some! The horse stables are open every day and so is the beach. Develop some skills so that you can add them to your resume. Every audition could be the one that changes your life.


Mark Sikes began his casting career in 1992 for Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Corman. In the past 24 years, he has cast over 100 films as well as television series, commercials and web series. He has cast projects for top directors such as Tobe Hooper, Mark Jones and Luke Greenfield and many others. Domestically, he as cast films in Los Angeles as well as in Texas, Ohio, Massachusetts, Virginia and multiple projects in Colorado.

 

Ten Seconds – PT. 1 OF WHAT DIRECTORS LOOK FOR FROM ACTORS IN AUDITIONS

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How long was your last audition – two minutes? If you were prepared with a driving intent, connected alive relationships, dynamic choices AND you started with a strong opening beat than, yes, it probably was 2 minutes.

However, if your first beat was unfocused and weak, it was probably only 10 seconds long.

You see, the first ten seconds is when you need to grab the people in the room and get them to pay attention. Right before you read everyone in the room is waiting for you to blow them away, and hoping that you’re the one. But, if you haven’t prepared your piece in a way that allows you to get out of the gate fast and engage them from the very start – you’ve lost the room.

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Your opening beat will either draw people toward you or push them away. It will secure their full attention for 2 minutes or close the door after 10 seconds.

I hear actors say too often that their reading started off a bit rough, but it picked up after a few lines. Too late. They may let you continue, but you have already been dismissed from their minds and their consideration.

Remember as well that the people auditioning you, whether in the room or on tape, are logging information as to what you would do if you actually had the job. If it takes you one, two three beats to get into a piece what does that tell them? It tells them that when “Action” is called on set you won’t be able to deliver the opening of the scene. If you need warm up beats in your audition, they will assume that’s what you’ll need on set and nothing will have them looking for someone else faster than that.

Also consider that you have to earn their attention. In a performance the assumption is that if people are watching you they are paying close attention. Not so in an audition. There may be people sitting in front of you and looking in your direction, but the degree of attention they pay has everything to do with how you open the piece. When you pick your eyes up and connect to the reader and to your choices, it has to be so compelling that they can’t look anywhere else. If you aren’t fully present from the first moment, they won’t be fully present with you after that.

The beginning of a piece is a real test of your preparation skills and your confidence in the decisions that came from applying those skills. You need a way of preparing that helps you to find an overriding intent that sets you firmly and passionately on your path from moment one – a technique that allows you access to the chambers of your heart that house the most personal and resonant relationships, so that your connections are strong, revealing and captivating right off the bat – a way of working that also brings out the brightest, most dynamic and original choices that hook them immediately and make them realize they’re seeing someone special.

Actors who work have the confidence to jump into their read. They trust that the net that they have woven during their preparation will keep them a loft so they are free to take the initial leap and then continue to soar.


 

CraigWallace

Craig Wallace’s background in script development combined with his 16 years of coaching actors enables him to find the job getting moments that others miss. His expertise in breaking down text and years of coaching experience has made him “L.A.’s go to private coach.” Sign up for his group or private classes at wallaceauditiontechnique.com

 

 

Tips For Kids To Win Auditions

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You know the expression “kids say the darndest things”? This is where the spontaneous, organic personality of the child can win them the job. Interview questions are almost always asked when a child auditions for a commercial, TV show or film. There is no copy for them to learn, no scene to play. You’re just asked random questions by the session director, casting director or director. The goal of this is to observe the child’s personality.

I dreaded this type of audition, and for years I never booked one. I focused obsessively on the questions, and agonized over my answers.

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One day, a session director told me that the director and clients often watch these auditions with the volume turned completely off. Immediately, I realized the purpose and potential of the random question. It’s all about our personality—how we come across on camera.

Using this nugget of information, I changed my whole approach to this audition.

Since it’s your personality that they are looking for, I needed something to talk about that turns me on, that I am passionate about, something I can discuss fluently without worrying or running out of specific details.

Now I always talk about one of three subjects that make my eyes and face light up: hiking, my son, or my dog, Sparky. To sail through the interview question audition with ease, you must approach it the same way: The child should have three things that he or she is passionate about, subjects that they can talk about easily and effortlessly and in detail. The details let’s the child’s personality shines through. Here are some ideas:

  • Your favorite game or at home activity
  • An anecdote about a family member
  • A story about your pet
  • Foods you love or hate

When asked a question, find a quick way to segue or transition to talking about one of your favorite subjects.

Keep your answers brief, but detailed and specific. The more details and specifics the child can add, the more the personality comes out! The truth is, they are just trying to see your personality on camera.

Beware of three taboo subjects—avoid this at all cost.

Acting

They want you to be an actor and a skilled one but do not want to hear about it. They secretly think they are discovering you in the local farmers’ market and putting you in their commercial campaign.

Politics

Politics are just too controversial and should be avoided at all costs. Even if you’re running for senate, leave it alone! This should not be a problem for most kids anyway.

Religion

Anything having to do with religion is generally taboo.

Kids who can relax and just get chatting about one of their subjects or a funny anecdote always are remembered, as being memorable is the key helping you get booked for jobs

The beauty about this technique is that you never have to think about the answer because you already know it.

Practice this technique with some of these commonly asked questions and see how it works for you:

  • What was your favorite vacation?
  • Do you have any hobbies?
  • Any plans for the summer?
  • What’s your favorite subject in school?
  • What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
  • What do you do when you get home?
  • What kind of foods you love?
  • What kind of foods you hate?
  • Who is the most important person in your life?
  • What is your most treasured possession?
  • Which is your favorite TV show?
  • If you had a super power, what would it be?
  • If you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would it be?

The answers should never sound prepared or rehearsed, but spontaneous and honest. Why? Because kids do say the darndest things!


Judy Kain has been a full-time actress for over 35 years, appearing in over 80 television and film roles and 375 commercials. Judy teaches her successful audition technique to thousands of students at her Los Angeles studio, Keep it Real Acting. Judy has won multiple awards, including Backstage Magazine’s 2015 Readers’ Choice Award for “Favorite Audition Teacher.”  Her latest book –  I Booked It!: The Commercial Actor’s Handbook – teaches readers practical techniques for booking acting jobs.  Available now at Amazon and through her website, keepitrealacting.com.

Personality

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Availability & The Working Actor

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Are you available? Wait. Before you answer, you might want to read the entire blog.

Every actor I meet tells me they are 100% available to audition and to work. But then when some of them get the call, they are either not available at all or need a reschedule. Sometimes this is possible but most of the time the casting director needs you when he or she makes the request. A lot of parts are cast in one session. And why look at tape when I have a dozen amazing choices standing right in front of me in the flesh? We can adjust them. We can pair them up. We can even mix and match. Most importantly, we can chat a little and get to know you for thirty seconds. Thirty very important seconds.

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You’re not available for my projects unless you live here. Here’s why.

I used to travel to Scottsdale, Arizona regularly to conduct classes and seminars. Each time I stood in front of the class they almost unanimously stated that they could be as easy to hire as actors from Los Angeles. That was a pretty unrealistic promise but since some of them worked for airlines I gave it a shot. Some of them actually showed up on time and were very professional. The trouble popped up when I needed them to come out two days later for the callback or two weeks later to read for another role in a different episode of my TV series. That first trip out was the charm but the L.A. actor shows up over and over without difficulty.

And then there is the issue of the holidays.

The problem of availability just came up on a feature I was producing last December. I needed to hire a couple of actors at the last minute. They wouldn’t need to audition. They just had to show up. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? But I was looking on December 18th for them to work on December 21st. I reached out to several actors and no one was available. They were either already out of town or would be by the work date. Of course I found my actors eventually, but I thought it was a shame that some actors missed out on a paying role in a union feature because they chose not to be available in December.

When producers or casting directors need you to show up on the set, the only response should be “where and when?” The actors I reach out to are the ones that have proven to be on call year-round. I’m not mad at the other actors, but I can’t hire them.

You are NOT available if you are in a play without understudies. I cannot hire you and guarantee a stop time. Why would I? I have thousands of actors who are available 24/7. Whether it’s a studio film, a network series or a tiny indie, you must be available or you are wasting our time coming in. This happens way too often and it damages relationships between actors and casting directors as well as those between casting directors and agents.

You are not available if you can’t be in my office in an hour. Many of you have jobs that aren’t as conducive to auditions as you want to believe. You have to rush to every audition. You are not at your best when you are there and you then rush back to work. If this is you, you need to find a new job asap or you made the trip out here for nothing.

You’re not available unless you bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. You cannot move home, move back to L.A., move back home and repeat the cycle over and over expecting this to work for an acting career. The majority of actors who leave L.A. do not return. The one thing they all have in common is that they are not working actors in film and television today. Move here. Stay here.

Don’t say you are available unless you are available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. As I learn every time I cast a project, there are actors out there who just don’t seem to know their own availability.


Mark Sikes began his casting career in 1992 for Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Corman. In the past 24 years, he has cast over 100 films as well as television series, commercials and web series. He has cast projects for top directors such as Tobe Hooper, Mark Jones and Luke Greenfield and many others. Domestically, he as cast films in Los Angeles as well as in Texas, Ohio, Massachusetts, Virginia and multiple projects in Colorado.