We’ve all had audition that we didn’t feel went our way. There can be a myriad of reasons why, many of which can be boiled down to not feeling confident, relaxed, or sure of yourself in the room. But here are some tips so you can feel more in control and confident in the room, while at the same time give an even better on-camera performance.
1. Ask for the information you need. Many times, when reading for a role, there are questions that you might have such as, “How to you pronounce this name?” “What is this line in reference to?” etc. No casting director will think less of you for asking for the information you need to give a stronger and more specific performance. So, if you have a question, ask—but only if you actually have a question.
Nearly very audition is on camera these days, so there is another question or two that you should be asking as well. First, you should always ask, “What is my frame?” As I mentioned in my earlier article “Film and TV: A Story in Pictures,” film and television is a visual medium. What the audience sees is incredibly important, often more important than what you say. Therefore, we as actors need to know what is in that frame.
Not only does knowing your frame give you information about what can be seen and what can’t, it also gives you a sense of literally how to act. You might change the physical speed of a performance in different frames. In a tighter frame, your performance might be smaller and more subtle, focusing more on your eyes.
2. Enroll the CD in your audition. A casting director might see as many as 20 actors for the same role, and all 20 are going to perform a little differently. How is the person behind the camera going to capture your performance on camera if you don’t let them know what you are planning?
This goes beyond just telling the CD that you are planning on standing or sitting. Enroll the CD in your game plan. Tell them as clearly as possible what you are planning to do. For instance, “I’m going to walk into frame, then sit down in the chair about halfway through, and finally lean forward towards the end of the scene.” Now, without getting overly specific, the camera operator knows what you are going to do, and is prepared to catch every brilliant moment of your audition.
Also, there are two added benefits: If casting prefers you to sit or stand, they can let you know, and if they are fine with you using the space, you’ve just communicated to them that you have made choices, and now they can just relax and watch the show.
3. Rehearse your scene both right and left-handed. Finally, every room is different. Sometimes, your audition space is massive with room to move around and play as much as you want. Sometimes, it’s small with only a couple of steps in either direction. Heck, I’ve had to audition, literally, standing in the corner of a room. My point is, you have to be prepared for everything before you walk into the room. One of the ways that you should prepare is by rehearsing your scene right and left-handed.
What I mean by that is this: Plan out your audition with the reader being on the righthand side of the camera. Maybe you start looking to the left so you can make that dramatic look across camera at the top. And maybe you then create another character through eyeline on the left of the camera, or maybe a moment of decision can occur while looking that way, and so on. Then, work out the mirror image of that exact same audition, just in case the reader is on the other side. That way your body is familiar with what it feels like to perform it that way as well. Nearly everyone knows how awkward it is to rehearse for a workshop with your partner on one side, only to get up in the room and have them be on the opposite side of you. Suddenly, everything just feels off. This way, you’ve done it before, you know how it feels, and all it takes is a second once you walk into the audition room to note which side your reader is on and can make the adjustment.
This is also true with standing versus sitting. Work out both options just in case the CD has a preference. If you planned on stepping forward to create connection earlier, now you just lean forward in the chair. The same feeling and intention is created, however you may be.
You’ve left your family and friends and sacrificed more than a little to do what you love and hopefully achieve your dreams. So take a couple of moments before every audition to think about the technical aspects. That way regardless of whether you book the job or not, you know you performed your audition to the best of your ability, and you can go home happy.
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