In this ninth episode of Casting Frontier’s Bring It! series, casting veteran James Levine and actor and session director Charles Carpenter emphasize the importance of the first moment we see you on camera during auditions.

In a nutshell, they encourage actors to “Anticipate ‘Action,’ but don’t anticipate ‘Cut!’”

Action!

In the audition room, when casting calls “Action,” it indicates the camera is rolling and ready to capture the actor’s performance. It’s the starting point for the actor to begin the scene in character. However, Levine encourages actors to enrich their performance by giving just a little bit more than that. The actors who are the most engaging, he says, anticipate the word “Action.”

“Right after the slate, if we see a person who is waiting to start acting,” Levine says, “I see an actor and then the character.” But he asserts, in the world of casting, an actor’s performance is perceived as more powerful if he or she is in character before the word ‘Action’ is uttered. This is important, Levine reveals, because casting teams have already decided if they’re interested in watching the remainder of an actor’s scene just by how that actor entered into the scene. Remember, the reality of the casting process centers around long lines of actors delivering the same lines over and over again. By simply anticipating the word “Action,” you stand out among the competition and thus increase your chances of receiving a callback.

Carpenter says, “You’re always thinking. You’re thinking the character’s thoughts. Before the camera gets on you, the character has a life. After the camera cuts away, the character has a life. If you honor that, you will be in that moment and allow for a lot of great spontaneity to take place within the scene.”

Cut!

Levine insists actors stay in character, thoroughly involved in their performance, until “Cut” is called. The moment actors anticipate the word coming, they’re more likely to exit the frame or break the fourth wall—leaving their character in the dust. It’s the last thing casting sees when reviewing the tapes and can hurt the overall performance. So just keep going until you hear them say, “Cut”—even if it feels like it’s taking too long. Actually, if they’re not calling “Cut,” chances are they’re enjoying what they’re seeing and are thoroughly engrossed in your performance.

Levine says, “Stay there because that’s where your gold happens. That’s the most interesting stuff you will do—where you’re forced to live in this character in this moment, and you don’t know what happens next. So you’re compelled to live in this character from moment to moment. And it’s usually funny, it’s uncomfortable—discomfort is awesome—and now we want to keep rolling.”

An example of this in film occurred when Leonardo DiCaprio cut his hand while shooting a scene of Django Unchained. When he slammed his hand on a table while playing the villainous “Monsieur” Calvin J. Candie, he accidentally broke a glass, injuring his hand. DiCaprio continued with his now legendary performance. The producer of the film, Stacey Sher, told Variety, “Blood was dripping down his hand. He never broke character. He kept going. He was in such a zone. It was very intense. He required stitches.”

Now, nobody is going to ask you to keep going in a scene if you get injured. The point, rather, is to remain engrossed in your performance till the end.

Bring It!

Determined to help actors cut through the mystery associated with the casting process, James Levine authored an enlightening book entitled Bring It! along with Charles Carpenter and Jim Martyka, which will be released digitally in the near future. In the book, Levine shares helpful audition information from the vantage point of a casting director as it relates to commercial, film and television acting. The book’s chapters correspond to the Bring It! series.

Casting Frontier’s YouTube channel publishes weekly video tips, tricks, best practices, interviews with industry professionals and more. 

 

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