Auditioning Tools by Art Lynch
Agency and Casting expectations are high. You must put in the time and effort needed if you wish to truly be represented and work in this business.
The Audition itself requires you be prepared in all froms of potential auditon. Most important is that you work with and really have fun with any script given to you in advance.
Cold Reading is the most important skill. The ability to give a polished, believable performance, to react to the other actor and the world around the character and make the event real and/or entertaining, while still holding a script in your hand is called cold reading, More on that later.
Monologues are used mostly for theater, but can be used when meeting a new agent or casting director who either does not have a current project auditioning or who prefers to see if you can act prior to providing you with a side or a full script. It is very important that you give a full professional memorized performance and have several options ready to perform on request
Have the follwoing Memorized and performance ready
2 1 to 2 minute monologues (4 preferred)
at least one comedy and one drama, generally the third would be a "classic" work.
maker sure it is appropriate to your age or type
2 1 to 4 minute scenes
2 person, with your role the one that is key to the scene
3 ten second to one minute commercials
Plus be ready to work and bring new scripts to life,
Cold reads, be ready and prepared to do your best.
Be ready to interview, slate, do a commercial audition (reading), take directions, improvise, do movement and show any other talent or skill you may have.
All will material may be seen and some may be done at least twice.
Come to audition week looking as you did for your photograph (with some exceptions which will be explained), or when last seen by a specific agent or casting director. If photos or resume were requested, have them ready and in hand.
Bring your most smiling and positive attitude, and use it fully at the audition, including before you arrive, while at the audition site, during the audition and after you leave. You are expected to be positive, energetic, a teenager and to show you can be fun or easy to work with.
Be ready for an interview, to show your monologues and scenes, to do cold reading, to do improvisations, to take direction and to be interviewed (look up, react and make it real…no noses in the script).
Be ready for last minutes changes, differences in read, take directions and show your full professional self.
You are doing what you enjoy doing, not facing an inquisition or test. When you audition you are performing and enjoying the process of acting. It is your time to enjoy yourself and shine.
Remember it is your time, so take your time. Don’t rush, apologize or get caught up in any mistakes. There are no mistakes, only professional and “real” ways to deal with anything that happens during your audition.
The Training Sessions.
All actors should continue to study. That does not mean taking an occasional "casting director" workshop or conservatory. It means classes, for weeks, months and even years of commitment to an instructor and to your fellow class mates. This not only gives you a quality learning experience, it demonstrates commitment, allows you to show all aspects of your personality and the areas you need to work on, and to network with and form friendships with your fellow performers as together you grow and advance in the field.
Always be prepared the day assignments are due. Treat any class you take as an audition and put in 1,000%.
Work during the week. You have to want this and want it more than anything else. Do not treat it as a class at school or just another workshop.
Do the work and be ready to compete in Hollywood . Get better each workshop or class you take. Keep practicing and working even when you are not taking acting classes or workshops. Keep up and always be improving your skills.
You are not competing. You are, however, showing that you are ready and as good as actors who have been training for years, who do their homework, who understand the industry and who see this as a profession.
Character is the words plus you.
Build on who you are. You are cast to be who you are, but professional enough to have material memorized quickly, to make the scene or monologue real and bring life to the script. Remember subtext and meaning, conflicts and resolution.
Always remember that each time you perform it should seem as if it is for the fist time, with the words, subtext and meaning as fresh and real as if it were happening in real life for the very first time.
Put the time in that makes the work sing and shine. Just reading it for a few minutes or even an hour does not make the work have that special shine. Play with it, Make fun of it as you do so, then do it seriously. Find the subtext, the meanings, the places where pace, pauses, unheard responses (even if you are hearing it in your own mind, thinking), the many ways of interpreting the script…and finally you will find and choose what works best for you.
Remember your character is in the middle of life, with other things happening, before, after and even while doing the scene (we think of, feel and are impacted by things other than the current moment all the time).
Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? Ask these questions many times over and over again about every aspect of your character and your character, scene or monolog, commercial and improvisation.
Creatively explore the text, the character and yourself to bring something no one else can to a scene. It is usually best not to play it safe or to do what you think is expected in the scene. Make it your own and make it real!
Reveal your soul in the scene.
Bring the words and meaning of the scene to life!
Slates are optional and may not be required at all. When they are used it is usually when a video camera or digital divice is used to record your performance audition. By slating a third party, often a director or higher up casting authority, will be able to find you and confirm your name as they evaluate your work.
Slates are also used to reveal a part of your personality. Can they work with you? When you are not doing the role, what kind of a person are you? What is your personality? What are your normal speaking tones and attitudes?
The casting director their assistant will tell you what to say in a formal slate, usually your name and the agent who sent you or your manager’s name. Sometimes you will be asked to say your height or other information. Only give you age if asked to do so. Always tell the truth and answer questions truthfully.
When there is no formal slate, keep in mind that you are still slating.
Your slate is your introduction. They know your name. They either called you or you gave them our photo and resume with your name on it, so the slate is not to tell them your name. The slate allows them to meet you, to judge your voice, your personality, to see your eyes and soul when you first meet them.
If there is a camera, the slate almost also includes putting your name on record (in the digital age, some CD's rely only on the digital encoding on the film itself). Slating "on film" is done so they can find your files or remember your name as they, or someone else, views and evaluates the tape.
Make sure they can understand your name. Do not rush or be mechanical. These are acting slates, not spokes-model or any other application where you may be asked to slate.
The interview is not an employment interview. Show your personality, your enthusiasm, you passion for what you are doing. Be ready to answer questions, to talk about places you have lived, languages you speak, skills outside of acting you may have, in general the things that make you the unique person you are.
Know your frame. Ask if the camera will follow or you or is locked down.
Remember that you may move if there is no camera, but do not distract from your work. That said, acting is mostly in the eyes and the face. Be prepared for camera close up that will reveal your eyes and your face, including reactions to other actors or to what is going on around the character at the time of the scene or monologue.
Professional agents and casting directors know what you will look like on camera. Some watch and judge you as if they were a camera, keeping in mind close-ups, movement, voice and other elements of your personality and your performance.
Make sure those you audition for, the camera and the audience can see your eyes. The eyes are the windows to your soul. This includes when you are reacting as well as saying lines. Think the scene, live the scene and it will show through your eyes. It needs to be real, sincere and believable.
You are the character. Be aware that you need to stand, move and do little things as well as large, as the character. This is why you should start with yourself and build outward. The audition is your entire body, your entire presence, not just the words.
The little things you do as the character are called business, both directed and motions or traits you add yourself.
These auditions are for film and television, not the stage. Remember microphones and cameras can be very intimate. Keep it real. You can always be directed to make it larger or to being it in. Show your best work, but do not do high school stage.
Too often beginning actors now say they are going to be TV or movie stars and avoid the experience that is live theater. The classroom, experience and performing art that is live theater cannot be replaced as a tool to learn about, practice and polish all of the aspects of the craft, from movement to the words, meaning to the subleties of character.
Remember to keep energy high. Remember that they cast real people more often than spokespersons or comedians. That said, make the choice that is best for you. Also remember that they cast that special something that you bring to your work!
We will cover four types of commercial presentation: real person, spokesperson, announcer, and comedy.
Your monologues should be age appropriate to your look, and allow you to showcase the best of what you have to offer. For the purpose of a generic audition you should do a character close to your own, without affected accept or voice. See the beginning of this article.
Your scenes, like your monologue, should showcase who you are and your acting, without growing too far from who you really are, in or type. Because the camera is intimate it is best to begin as close to who you really are as possible.
Improvisation and other forms of auditioning:
Auditions vary in type, style and technique. The professionals who you audition for vary in what they expect to see. Improvisations usually are meant to help you reflect the real you and to show that you can listen and adapt to what is going on it the scene, to other actors and to direction. They can be games, but they are not all games! Work on them as you do all of your other audition and performance skills.
Contrary to public belief, acting is work and actors need to be intelligent, well educated, observant and skilled at their trade. The best actors make it seem easy, not showing the homework and practice they put in to their performances. Reading, researching, memorizing, practicing, observing others, travel, being open to opposing views and life styles (doe not mean you have to change or do things you feel are wrong), emulating and imitating with commitment and of course, putting your heart and should into work your work is how you work and show your skill as an actor.
Reading is still the best for of overall research into a story, script, scene or character.
Knowing films (star with the AFI Top 100) and studying how the actors who earned awards, positive reviews or who become the character so fully you forget they are actors achieve their goals and practice their craft.
Television can keep you up to date on what is current in your craft as applied to television, and what sort of roles you most likely will be called upon to read for if you are called for an audition.
Video games are the latest extension of the actor's universe, with movement, voice, characterizations and even images use in many potential alterations.
Know what wins awards, is popular, is in demand and why for all areas where you are likely to be called upon to ply your craft.
That Special Something:
Only you can bring your soul to the audition and reveal it in ways that lets the agents and casting directors know you area ready and you will make money for everyone! You are the star in waiting. You need to find what it is that makes you special and let it shine!
For now, be yourself but remember energy, energy, energy….and when appropriate smile!
By Art Lynch, rights reserved, 2010.