Last week, I attended my first ever audition where I was only given the script on the spot and I had only less than 5 minutes to look through the 4 page dialogue before I was asked to perform. (I didn’t even have time to read through the whole thing!)It became more like a cold reading session instead of a performance, with the casting director saying her line, then me looking at the script, then looking at her again to say my line. That’s not acting. I’m supposed to be listening to her, then responding truthfully. If faced with such a situation, what would you guys do? In future, I’d definitely ask for more time to read the script. But what else would you have done?
1. Develop the ability to cold read and break down a script faster. Auditions that require cold reads don’t need vast amounts of analysis. They simply want to see how flexible you are with new material and how able you are to handle it in a serviceable, actable manner. Get out of your head and into your body. If all you do in the audition prep is understand and identify the obstacle, name it. Identify the objective, name it. Identify some playable actions, name it and your intentions behind it all, name it. You’re ahead of the game.
2. Ask for more prep time. Casting directors are not out to make you fail. You have all the power and permission in the world to ask for more time. Be realistic about how much you ask for though.
3. You should never worry about having to show the casting director anything, particularly what you learnt in school. They don’t care to see it. Then the work you seek to do, now becomes outward, presentational and showing off, all slippery slopes to work that is indicated and overly done. Focus on what is playable and doable in the casting room.
4. If you are not sure of what the casting director wants, ask them. Make sure you make the questions relevant and to the point. Casting directors are not your acting instructors. It’s never their job to tell you how to do something, teach you or provide you motivations. They are a cog in the wheel (and an important one) that keeps the industry going. Understand what they want, interpret it to the best YOUR OWN ability and express it in a way that you would be proud of your own work. Don’t worry about impressing them or making your teachers proud.
5. As mentioned, casting directors WANT YOU TO WIN. They want you to be the right person for the job. Statistically they see more people who are not ‘right’ for the job but each time a new person comes in, they want you to the be the person they need. It makes their job easier and makes your life easier.
6. There are only two reasons why you didn’t get cast. Self-sabotage and factors out of your control. Self-sabotage, did you prepare enough? Do you have the right tools to use in the right situations? Do you even have enough tools? Are you overanalysing as you are doing making you go up in your head and intellectualising? Are you rude? Are you potentially difficult to work with? Factors out of your control, e.g. you are too tall, short, fat, Chinese, Indian, Malay, Pan-Asian, Caucasian for the role. You remind them of a ex-boyfriend or girlfriend they hate. All factors you can’t/won’t have any prior knowledge or present control over so why sweat it?7. Enjoy the process and know that every no is one step closer to the job you were meant to get!
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