Thursday, March 6, 2014

Public Misbehavior

Something you already know: Getting an audition is hard. I don't mean the kind for a student film or a micro-slash-no-budget webisode series. Submit a photo to enough of those, you're bound to get called in sooner or later. I mean the auditions for movies that actually screen in theaters or shows that actually air on television. Those auditions are insanely difficult to land. You know this. If you don't, you probably googled for the definition of anonymous and somehow, twenty clicks later, ended up here. (If that's you... welcome to the real hustle behind your favorite entertainment.)

Getting a casting director for a major project to give you one of the five-minute time slots in a session is beyond difficult. It's like a Black Friday door-busters with the iPhone 10 on sale five years in advance for $2.00. The crowd outside is enormous. The line stretches into the next three zip codes. People are crawling all over each other to get a precious five minutes inside. It's an absolute battle just to make it through the doors.

But you work hard and one day, you finally get invited into the room. Now the real pressure is on. Now you have to create magic in those five minutes. You better make sure you give it the best five minutes you have. There is nothing worse than walking away from an audition knowing you wasted all the work it took to get it because you didn't prepare enough, were thrown by being late on the drive over or simply let the pressure of the moment get to you.

Do what you have to do to be able to walk into that room with nothing but your A-game. For me... that means I sacrifice some "coolness" outside.

Everyone has their own process in the waiting room. Some actors are chatters. Some actors are pacers. Some actors like to stand in a corner and deliver their lines to the drywall six inches from their face. Me? I 'm a walker. I like to be up, walking around (usually in circles, figure eights or pacing). I try to be conscientious of other performers and go down the hall or outside. I also usually mutter to myself, do facial stretches, bbbbbbbbbbb with my lips, "yee yah yow", jump up and down. I'm trying to make sure I'm in my body, from the top of my head to the tips of my fingers and toes. I want to be loose, alive and in the mindset of my character...

So pretty much I look like a crazy person. I'm talking to myself, sometimes walking rapidly back and forth, making faces and gesturing at invisible people near me -- or sometimes real people who just happened to be unfortunate enough to walk by right as I need something to react to. It's pretty much everything your parents told you not to do in public unless you wanted to be carted off to an institution.  Today I had to do a very comedic scene for the pilot that was incredibly heavy on reactions, wordless expressions that absolutely have to be clear.  And funny.  More than one golf cart whizzed by me as I muttered to myself walking around between the sound stages.  Some golf carts carried industry people who are used to this kind of thing, but others had tourists visiting the lot. 

I'm sure I raised a few eyebrows. I'm sure there are some who chuckled at me under their breath. I don't care. I've walked away from auditions before knowing I wasted them. I can't let that happen when the difference between success and failure are the five minutes in a room. Those five minutes can change everything. Make them count.

"Ladies and gentleman.  If you take a look to your left... No, that's not a woman suffering from schizophrenia.  It's just an up-and-coming actress hoping to land her first pilot. " 

It's all part of the working studio tour. 

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