Confidence is sexy. It makes us feel like we’re in good hands when actors come in obviously comfortable in their skin and effortlessly steer the audition to meet their needs. Confidence is not to be confused with cockiness, though. We can spot a diva a mile away.
I often talk to my students about how to “take the room.” If done correctly and with subtlety, you can have them eating out of your hand by the end of your audition.
Here are a few ways you can achieve this if done with confidence and good manners.
“I’m going to start over.”
If you’re in the beginning of your scene and you feel like you’re not in the zone or you’ve gone up on your lines, rather than say, “I’m so sorry! Can I please start over?! Damn, I screw up that line every time!” simply say, “I’m going to start over,” and do so. Don’t apologize, don’t kick yourself; gracefully show us that you’re still in control by actually taking control and starting over.
Know your frame.
Tell the cameraperson that you’re going to be getting up at a certain point within the scene. Ask the cameraperson how wide or tight they are on you so that you know how much you can move around. We can follow you; just make sure to cheat toward the camera—meaning, throw your looks and actions toward the camera so we can see your eyes and expressions. I don’t believe you need to be dead still or locked into a spot on the floor. It doesn’t make for the most interesting audition. Just make sure not to come toward the camera because we’ll lose you in the focus.
“Would you mind standing?”
If you are standing in a scene and your reader is sitting, your eyes will be cast down and all we’ll see is the top of your eyelids. That’s not a great look, and we want to see your eyes when we look back at the audition tape. Sometimes the reader gets tired by the end of the day or doesn’t know that if the actor is standing, so should she. Politely ask the reader to stand along with you. I teach my students to say something like this, “Would you mind standing with me? It’ll help my eye line for the camera.” This shows me that a) You are thinking, and b) You know your way around a camera and what looks good. Get comfortable with saying this so it comes out naturally and not demanding.
“Are you going to read this whole speech?”
I’ve had clients tell me that they were in the middle of their scene with the CD or reader who then skipped to the last line of their dialogue to speed things up. It totally threw the clients. Before the audition starts, ask if your reader will be doing the whole speech or dialogue—then you’ll know whether they are going to skip over it or not. Whoever these CDs are who are skipping over large chunks of dialogue so that they can get to your lines are completely missing the point here.
For me, one of the key elements in an audition is whether an actor is listening. I love to see the look on the actor’s face as he’s understanding and reacting to what the other character is telling him. Tell them that you’d appreciate it if they read the whole speech, as it would help you within the scene.
I look at these ideas as “asking-telling” them what you need. It’s your five minutes. Use it well.
Like this advice? Check out more of Marci Liroff's articles!
Known for her work in film and television, producer and casting director Marci Liroff has worked with some of the most successful directors in the world such as Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Mark Waters, Christopher Nolan, Brad Bird, and Herbert Ross. While working at Fenton-Feinberg Casting, she, along with Mike Fenton, cast such films as “A Christmas Story," “Poltergeist," “E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial," “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," and “Blade Runner." After establishing her own casting company in 1983, Liroff cast “Footloose," “St. Elmo's Fire," “Pretty in Pink," “The Iron Giant," “The Spitfire Grill," “Untamed Heart," “Freaky Friday," “Mean Girls," “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” “Vampire Academy,” and the upcoming “The Sublime and Beautiful,” which she produced as well.
Liroff is also an acting coach, and her three-night Audition Bootcamp has empowered actors to view the audition process in a new light. The class spawned an online course available at Udemy entitled "How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp".
Photo by Doug Hac.