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Backstage Experts

5 Basic Principles of Booking

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5 Basic Principles of Booking

Before I begin to touch on some important principles of booking, I need you all to understand that there are many reasons why an actor doesn’t book. Most of the time, it has nothing to do with your talent, and has everything to do with your approach. Seriously, if I could tell you the exact quotient to booking, then I would be on my yacht sailing around the Bahamas. And though there’s no definitive formula, you can bet from my years of experience, there are some definite principles. By practicing these few, your auditioning to booking ratio should rise!

1. A career is not a job. The first thing you must understand is that a career is not a job. Your job is to work on your career. A career spans a lifetime and the only way that you will not work is if you quit. With that said, make sure you think of yourself as if you are in training for the Olympic Games. You need to practice everyday. Go out on as many auditions as possible so that you become an expert at booking. Learn how to work a room. Learn how to work the technique. Learn all about your emotional instrument. You can do the best homework in the world, but if you’re not feeling the character, then we won’t see the character. Getting out of your head and into your heart takes practice. I always say, “The actor must approach acting like an Olympic athlete—the more you practice the necessary skills, the more you will book. When a high level of discipline and concentration on the work is achieved, you will see incredible results.” 

2. Ego. There is no place for ego. Always remember that the story always comes first. That’s why when the writer is in the room they always say, “You read it exactly as I wrote it. That’s the character!” Don’t make anything up to impress them. Respect the writing and understand why you’re in the script. Know who you are and where you belong in the story. 

A lot of actors want so much to be remembered that they overshoot the audition by attempting to become more important than the series regular or the star of the feature film. Unless you have your own series and you’re a major film star, you’re simply there to move the story along. Don’t become more important than the material. If you’re serving drinks in the scene, then you’re just a cocktail waitress. That’s it. Also, be careful of judging the material. If you do that, then you might as well cancel the audition because you’re on the outside of the material looking at it, and not on the inside feeling it. It is not your place to judge. You are simply a clean vessel of pure emotion just lending yourself to the material to channel the character from the writer’s intent. 

3. Focus. Focus is one of the most important elements to building momentum in your career. You need to think of yourself as a business and focus on your plan of action. If you don’t work your business one day then your doors are closed for that day and you’re limiting your revenue. You can be a small business or a huge corporation. How much time are you willing to put into your business? Are your pictures, résumé and demos easy to access? Do you have a designated spot in your home to work your business? Make sure that you have all your tools ready to send out. 

When you get the audition, make sure that you’re prepared. Do you know exactly where you are going? Map it out the night before. Lay out your clothes. Stay off the phone. If you’re still going over your script in your car or in the outer office, then you didn’t do enough homework. Don’t look at anyone in the outer office. The moment that you catch someone’s eye, they will talk to you. Bring music or put your head down and close your ears to all the noise and focus on what you’re going to do. Find out who is signed up before you and if you can, wait outside the room and go straight in as soon as they walk out. Do not engage. Imagine if you were about to run a race and you didn’t jump off as soon as the gun went off. You would be trying to catch up during the entire race. Your jump off is 90 percent of your audition. It takes extreme discipline to focus on booking a job.

4. The business. Watch as much television and film as humanly possible. If you don’t understand the concept of style and tone, you’ll never seem like you’re already on the show. Check out TV Guide and see who’s working. What are they wearing? What are the popular hairstyles? If you don’t look like you’re on the show, then why should they cast you? Try not to extend the imagination of the people who are hiring you. Give them what they are asking of you. How are you going to have any points of reference if you don’t know what is going on? Do the research. Look up on IMDb the other shows the producers have worked on. Know what the casting director has worked on. Information is power.

5. Don’t be afraid to go for it. Believe me, if you don’t, someone else will. Set it up and let it go. Why should they take your part? You already inconvenienced yourself to get to the audition, why not just get the job? Which would you prefer? Nailing the read in the room or knocking it out of the ballpark in your car on the way home? If you’re thinking about the audition for days afterwards and asking for feedback from your representatives, then you didn’t do your homework. You know when you’ve hit it hard. You know when you’ve given it your best. 

Like this advice? Check out more from our Backstage Experts!

Amy Lyndon is a Los Angeles acting teacher, creator of the Lyndon Technique, and Backstage Expert. For more information, check out Lyndon’s full bio!


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