AUDTION BLOOPER PROJECT
In my master classes I often show actors examples of successful auditions. We examine what worked-- what got them the role. Sometimes someone will say, “but I want to see the ones who didn’t get cast.” I can’t show the unsuccessful auditions of course because it would be quite disrespectful to the actors who attend my casting sessions. No one would ever trust me again!
So I’ve decided to start a project called “Audition Bloopers” and I’d like to invite actors to voluntarily audition badly so that I can share the “how not to audition” videos to my classes. The results will be shared on my blog, and a collection will be made for educational purposes for my classes.
So I invite you, to find an audition piece, and send in your deliberately bad audition. It would be followed by a corrected “good” audition.
The following is a list of casting mistakes that I’d like to cover; so it would be great if actors could choose to make these mistakes
THE POOR INTRODUCTION PROBLEM
Actors sometimes trip up in this section of the interview. They’re asked to introduce themselves, or the director simply says, “tell me something about you.” Here is a top ten of what NOT to do:
- undersell yourself (“I haven’t had any good or interesting roles before”)
- mention your day job (“I’d love a break from my office work.”)
- tell us you’re not very interesting (“I just stayed in and did housework all week-end”)
- tell us you haven’t worked in a long time
- act unfriendly and hostile about having to introduce yourself
- mention that you didn’t get along well with the director on the last project you worked on
- act like a piece of cardboard with no personality
- ramble on for too long
- repeat several times how nervous you are
- make a million excuses for why your audition will be bad
THE EYE LINE PROBLEM
Not knowing where to look. Mistakes include:
- looking at camera
- looking down too much into the script
- not focusing, and therefore looking everywhere
- looking at the Casting Director at the end of shot as if to ask, “Was that OK?”
THE AUTO-PILOT PROBLEM
Actors often have difficulty listening to directions and following them. The director or casiting director gives very specific notes for adjustment, but the actor ends up doing the scene over and over again the same way each time, thus not demonstrating that they can work with a director.
THE OVER-ACTING PROBLEM
I find that over-acting occurs when actors judge a character. For example, they will come in thinking, ‘this guy is a bastard.’ Then instead of playing a living, breathing character with an objective, they end up playing adjectives that cause them to over-act. They end up with a clichéd, mustache-twirling performance, instead of an honest one.
THE OVER-EMOTING PROBLEM
Actors sometimes think that their job at a casting is to prove that they can act. They thus end up throwing themselves on the floor in tantrums, instead of concentrating on an honest performance.
THE DEADFACE PROBLEM
This is the opposite problem and it often occurs with theatre actors who are afraid to overact in front of camera. Instead they do nothing, taking no risks, and their performance is flat and boring.
THE WONKY ACCENT PROBLEM
Usually accents need to be learned under instruction. Make sure you have your accent checked out by a professional or native speaker, before you come to the audition.
THE DISAGREEMENT WITH THE DIRECTOR PROBLEM
I’ve seen actors loose the job because they thought they should sell their own ideas about the role, rather than following the director’s lead.
THE ODD CHOICES THAT DON’T FIT WITH THE SCRIPT PROBLEM
Interesting choices are great, but they need to correspond somehow with the writer’s intentions. If you come in with the random idea that the character should wear roller skates and carry a cabbage, it won’t fly.
THE LISTENING PROBLEM
Not only is it important to listen to directions, but it’s important to listen and respond in the moment to the reading scene partner. There are actors who display great animation while reciting their own lines, but turn into zombies reading the script, during the scene partners’ lines.
THE READ STAGE DIRECTIONS ALOUD PROBLEM
The stage directions are for reading silently. We’ve read them; you don’t have to read them to us. Your lines are the indented ones. If it says you’re on a horse, you don’t have to simulate this. We know it already.
THE CONFUSION OVER THE WHOLE PROCESS PROBLEM
When I say the lines, that means I’m reading the other character.
THE NO PREPRATION PROBLEM
It is clear sometimes that the actor has made no effort at all to prepare and they are flying by the seats of their pants. If you’re given the script to read, by all means read it. Read the scene and figure out the “W” questions (Who am I?, Where am I?, Who am I talking about?, What do I want?”)
THE BADLY DRESSED FOR AUDITION PROBLEM
Bad dress choices:
- wearing stripes
- wearing loud colors
- wearing t-shirt with writing on them
- wearing white (it reflects the light)
- trying too hard with a costume
- over-sexing yourself (unless the role calls for it)
- wearing baggy clothes that don’t show your figure
THE MAKE US EDIT YOUR AUDITION PROBLEM
Part of what we are testing is your ability to concentrate and stay in character. Please don’t make us go back and start over again every time you flub up a line.
THE I KNOW I KNOW THE LINES (BUT REALLY DON’T) PROBLEM
There is nothing less interesting than watching an actor trying to remember lines.
The audition is not simply a memory test. I always tell actors to learn the lines as well as possible, but to hold the script in their hands. I’d rather have you peek, and remind us that it’s a reading, rather than a final performance.
THE OBSEQUEOUS, KISS UP TO THE DIRECTOR PROBLEM. Don’t lick the director’s shoes. If you want the job too badly, it reads. It’s OK to express enthusiasm, but not desperation.
Technical specifications: I’m looking for video clips that are 30 seconds to about one minute long. If you’d like, you can send two-- the one that is deliberately bad, and then the improved one, when you correct the mistake. Please send them via yousendit or a similar file share program that I can download to email@example.com. Choose any audition material you like. I will not share all of them; but the ones that I feel best demonstrate the points.
Thanks a lot for your help. I’m hoping the project will be fun.