acting information & advice

 

 

Welcome to our acting infromation and advice pages, were sure you'll find everything you could need to know to start and pursue a career in acting.

 

Good luck!

 

1.    Becoming a movie extra

2.    Getting started in film acting

3.    Break into showbiz

4.    Tips for the beginning actor

5.    Next?

6.    Who's who in the acting biz

7.    About talent agents

8.    About casting directors

9.    The casting process explained

10.   Grab the casting directors attention

11.   Self- promotion for the actor

12.   How to find a talent agent

13.   How to find an agent ... and survive

14.   Meeting with a talent agent

15.   Your meeting with an agent - in depth

16.   Ten interview blunders actors make

17.   Interview blunders - general suggestions

18.   About managers

19.   Casting directors defined

20.   What are casting calls?

21.   Yell! be discovered

22.   The importance of casting calls

23.   The casting process in action

24.   A star is found!

25.   Think about the casting director

26.   Film and stage acting

27.   Where to learn film acting

28.   Acting is a talent

29.   Why talent doesn't promise success

30.   Lets look at what goes into acting

31.   Downtime activities

32.   Five and a half acting tips not taught in drama class

33.   Four essential acting questions answered

34.   Five essentials for building a character

35.   What's next?

36.   Learning to move with ease

37.   How to get work in commercials

38.   What are headshots and what is their importance?

39.   What makes headshots so important?

40.   Acting exercises - text exploration

41.   Auditions

42.   Simply, do some preparation...

43.   Singing

44.   Showreels

45.   Audition tape do's and dont's

46.   Public speaking tips: 10 easy ways to prepare

 

 

 

1.  Becoming a movie extra

 

Break onto the movie scene and into showbiz by becoming a movie extra. It's not as hard as you think!

Just having the opportunity to be a movie extra for a day is often the most exciting and rewarding experience avid movie-goers can obtain. Every year hundreds of films are produced. This means that films and television shows are constantly being shot in cities, towns and neighborhoods across the country and around the world. It's just a matter of time before something is filmed near you.

 

So there's absolutely no question about it - if you really want to be in a movie or appear on TV, you can. What makes finding movie extra jobs easy is the simple fact that:

 

Looks don't matter,

*  Education doesn't matter

Age doesn't matter.

*  In fact, anyone can be a movie extra with no prior acting experience necessary. Plus, talent agents, talent scouts, casting directors and producers will always need extras and background performers for their productions.

No matter what type of film - action & adventure, drama, comedy, romance, science fiction or horror - all will require dozens if not hundreds of movie extras. All you have to do is let these filmmakers know you are willing and available to work

*  So how do these filmmakers and production companies find you? How can anyone offer you work if they don't know who you are? Luckily, there is a solution and it has already helped millions of potential actors and movie extras find acting jobs and get work. We know it as the World Wide Web or the Internet.

*  Just search for ‘movie or TV extra’ in any search engine and you will have a wide variety of companies at your disposal.

You may have to pay a small registration fee to get started with some companies, especially the bigger ones, and some may have full books, so they may only take people on at certain times of the year. It’s a good idea to try and register with as many as you can to get the best chance of work. If you are paying a fee for one company or another try not to think of it as money you have

To pay but rather a nominal fee you'll gladly pay for a shot at working in the film industry. Another way to look at it, you are not paying a fee, you’re investing in yourself and investing in your career. Again, it is a small price to pay for such a large potential in return. But do check each company our first before you hand over any money. Looking at testimonials or productions the company has worked with in the past is a good start.

Perhaps you want to be an actor or actress and not just a movie extra. Don't overlook the extras. You'll find most of today's successful actors started out as movie extras. Why? It's the easiest way to get started and there is such a great potential to gain valuable acting experience and learn just by being on set and around the action.

 

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2. Getting Started in Film Acting

 

There is no one sure way to become a successful film actor. In fact, there are as many different ways as there are actors. Each actor finds success in their own way, using luck, connections, and perseverance. There are, however, some basic tips that can help any new actor get their foot in the proverbial door. Here are a few ways to get started.

 

Theater

Almost every city and town has at least one small community theater where local actors gather and put on performances. Take advantage of this opportunity, even if your primary interest is film and television. Acting is acting, and it changes very little between media. Any practice and exposure you get while doing community theater will only improve your chances of making it in the film industry. Also, many agents and casting directors attend plays and showcases in hopes of finding talented new actors. Remember, opportunities can come at any time

 

Student Films

Is there a college in your home town? If so, chances are they have some kind of film, media arts, or broadcasting program. Film students always need talented actors, and you could be just what they're looking for. They probably won't be able to pay you anything and the final product may not be that great, but the experience will be more than worth it. Just be sure to get a video copy of your performance and keep in contact with student director. Who knows... he or she may be the next Spielberg.

 

Be a Movie Extra

(See also our ‘becoming a movie extra’ advice page) Extras (sometimes referred to as "background" or "atmosphere" actors) are used in almost every movie. They may be a face in a crowd of thousands or someone who fully interacts with the other actors but doesn't have any lines. In either case, you don't have to live in London or any major city to get this kind of work though it does help. Watch for ads in the newspaper or contact your local film commission if you know a production is coming to the area. You might be able to get a few days work as an extra.

Even though extra work is not considered serious acting by most people in the entertainment industry, it still gives you valuable experience. If you have never been on a film set before, you can learn a lot just by watching the cast and crew work. Also, there is a very small chance that you might get "upgraded" if the director decides that she needs you to say a line. This rarely happens, but if it does you will receive a lot more money and be eligible to join the Screen Actors Guild.

 

Independent Films

Many low budget films can not afford to hire experienced actors and will hold open calls. You can find auditions for these kinds of productions in trade publications or even local newspapers. However, it's a good idea to be cautious when responding to these ads. Take a friend with you to the audition and know what you're getting into. Most small films are wonderful experiences, but others can be purely exploitive. Always use your best judegment.

 

Get an Agent

After building credits and experience doing some or all of the things listed above, you should be ready to find an agent. Unless you live in a major city, this may be difficult. But even some smaller cities have reputable agents who submit their clients for commercials and the occasional film.

 

Be Persistent

You may be the most talented actor on the planet, but you'll never get anywhere without determination. Believe in yourself and never give up. If you want it, you can succeed in this business!

 

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3.  Break into Showbiz

 

First thing is first, to break into show business, whether you wish to model or act, you need to get some experience in front of a crowd. Local theatre and school theatre is a good place to start. Take classes on public speaking or get involved with Toastmasters. This is an organization geared to help people learn to speak in front of large groups - an essential skill.

 

Then, if you are serious about finding an agent, get a good set of headshots. Two different looks for Acting – Headshots- you will need to get these professionally done, ask your photographer what they think will look best for you- try to get a photographer that is experienced in headshots. Please remember to staple your headshot to the back of the headshot, text opposite from the back of the picture.

 

For Modeling (that's if you want to dabble in to commercial print modeling) you're going to want a composite card, this can be a mix of B&W and color. A headshot usually goes on the front and 3 to 4 pictures on back along with your measurements. You can find places that print comp cards online. An agent can usually do comps without getting in trouble with the unions as they are not making a profit on them.

 

You want to look professional so no portraits. Again NO "Glamour Shots unless that is the only type of work you want. You can have a glamorous look to one of the shots, but your headshots have to be something else. And don't just submit a snap shot.

 

*   Don't work with any agent that makes you use their photographer, in order to be represented.

* Don't work with anyone that pressures you into utilizing any of the services they may offer in order to be represented.

*    If an agent wants a fee to represent you, turn around and walk out of their office. They will never get you anything that makes it worth your while for what they charge.

*   Once you do get your headshots done, the best route to go is with a union franchised agent. A union franchised talent agent can work with both union and non-union talent. EQUITY is the union that works with TV - Commercials and TV Shows - basically shows in a videotaped format.

*   Beware of agents that don't have real offices. The unions will not franchise anyone who works from home. An agency needs a professional office in order to interview clients.

*   Be sure the person you are dealing with as your potential agent is ethical.

*   Standard agency percentages are 10% maximum any union work and between 15-20% on non union work if it is outside of union governance. (Some model managers take up to 25%, ouch! )

*   Print, Runway and Promotional Modeling. Don't let any one take more than 10% for your acting work. Be prepared to spend ££ on good photos and printing costs for your headshots. These are your expenses; make sure the photographer you pick is a good one.

 

Ultimately, please remember, that no matter how difficult it is to get an agent, they work for you, not the other way around. Best of luck in all your careers, and remember to send agents your headshots with the contact info attached. You'd be surprised at the amount of people who send in photos with no contact info on it at all.

 

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4. Tips for the Beginning Actor

 

Steps for the brand-new newcomer...

 

Preliminaries: Self-examination

• A vital question: Why do you want to act? Could it be, it is something that’s always interested you?

• Next question: What is your goal: Fame? Money? Performing? Self-exploration? to see what you can achieve if you study something, Conquest?

• Another question: How do you feel about the idea of performing in public or auditioning? If it terrifies you, then go back to question #1 and do some real soul-searching. Why? Because until radio drama returns, acting is something that almost always involves auditioning and performing in front of people. It occurs on a stage in front of an audience or in front of a camera with dozens of techs around. Acting is in front of people!

• After asking and answering those questions, what then? It's time to discover ‘How you feel in the act of acting’? …Coaching or classes.

• In a larger city, finding a coach or acting classes is not difficult. In a small town, ask the high school principal or go to your local junior college and ask about acting courses. Someone somewhere not too far away has acted and can point you in the right direction.

• I strongly feel that a brand-new adult actor should consider coaching rather than taking a class - unless he can find a class composed solely of serious adult newcomers like himself - not dabblers.

• Being in a class with younger or experienced actors can be overwhelming. This is the most vulnerable stage in a newcomer's acting life. Avoid discouragement at this step.

• Discouragement awaits us all, but hopefully by the time it hits we'll have enough confidence to not crumble. A newcomer's confidence level is notoriously low. So go the coaching route rather than the class route. There's less stress and more personal attention.

• Another way to start acting is in community or church theatre. Volunteer. Talk to the head of the acting group. Tell them what you would like to do and ask their advice. If necessary, form your own group.

 

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5. NEXT ?

 

What are the really basic necessities?

 

• One absolute necessity is knowledge of the vocabulary of acting. You have to know Stage Right, Down Stage, ad lib, upstage left, close-up, hit the mark, and...Action!

• . Another "must" for an adult newcomer is to start working on material immediately. The most basic acting requirement is the ability to say a line and sound real. It's hard to imagine an audition or a scene without having to speak. And his potential to sound real when he says a line is precisely what all beginning actors must discover. This is basic.

• If you cannotlearn to sound real, then acting is not for you.

• It's best to discover your level of sounding real before spending too much money and building up great expectations. You must find out if you can say a line believably. That is the basic of basics

To summarize, if you are an adult who has always wanted to act, begin either with community theatre or with coaching sessions. After several lessons you can then decide, based on an intelligent assessment of your potential and an honest evaluation by your coach, if you want to spend the next several years following the delayed dream.

Live your dream!

 

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6.  Who's Who in the Acting Biz?

 

There are many different people in the entertainment industry who are essential to an actor. Here are a few.

Talent Agent

A talent agent is someone who finds work for an actor in exchange for 10-15% (10% for union actors, typically more for nonunion) of the actors' earnings. They have an extensive network of contacts and clients, and use this network to get interviews and auditions for the actor. They also will work on the terms of your contract when you get a job. As an actor, you are a product and the agent is your salesperson.

Manager

A manager is a person hired by the actor to find work, give advice, and generally guide the actor's career. With the exception of child actors (who often need extra development and guidance into the business), most actors will not require a real manager until they are well on the road to success.

Casting Director

The CD is hired by the producers of a show to find talent (or "cast") for the show. These are the people who the agent will send photos and resumes to, and the actor will audition for. While it is possible to submit your photo and resume directly to a Casting Director, they usually only seriously consider actors submitted by an agent.

Producer

A producer is the person in charge of all the "behind the scenes" work of a show or film. They bring together a script, director, and actors, then oversee the film until it is released. The easiest way into Hollywood is knowing a producer, be they family or friend. Unfortunately for most of us, this isn't possible. But if you do happen to have a connection, don't hesitate to use it.

 

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7.    About Talent Agents

 

*   In objective terms, your agent is your professional representative. He or she will suggest you, as appropriate, for roles that come to his or her attention and will negotiate your contract when you get the job. An agent also deals with the creative aspects of the business, providing networking and support services.

*   In subjective terms, an agent can be mother, father, shrink, salesperson, facilitator, and publicist. An agent says Michael Oscars (Oscars and Abrams Associates Inc.) is "a champion, never enough for the client, far too much for the employer."

*   An agent is an actor's lifeline to the industry in a fifty-fifty partnership. Agents expect honesty, loyalty and professionalism from you. An actor needs to be working as hard as his or her agent to achieve their common goal of getting work.

*   Your end of the deal is to provide your agent with up-to-date photos, resumes and tapes so they have the tools that enable them to sell you to prospective employers. When you get an audition be prepared, off script if possible, be dressed appropriately, be early and do your absolute best to show casting that you are the one for the job

*    You must communicate with your agent; this includes everything from changes in hair style/colour and availability in terms of where you can be reached and vacation times, to the types of roles you'd like to be doing.

*    No agent likes to look like an idiot because they thought they sent a brunette to the audition and what casting saw was a blonde. It's also not fun for agents to have to play detective in an attempt to track you down for a booking.

*   You must know yourself and be honest with both yourself and your agent about your own limitations and strengths. Don't tell your agent you can water ski when you've only done it a couple of times when you were a kid. A limitation can become strength with proper training and consistent, conscientious work at the craft of acting. Actors also need to be aware of what's going on in the industry. Watch TV, be it home grown or imported.

*    Also be familiar with who's doing the work out there; your agent can help provide you with information on production companies, producers, directors and casting. The more familiar you can be with the shows that are out there, the better prepared you'll be if your agent gets you an audition for one of them. Go to the theatre too; not only can you see what's happening in terms of live work, but you can find yourself some great networking opportunities among the casting, production, and acting communities. Get out there and circulate. Don't expect your agent to do everything for you.

*    The agent's side of the bargain is to know your strengths, sell them, find opportunities for work and negotiate the best contract they can for you. Your agent can be a great resource for information on photographers, classes, casting and production and, in some cases, may draft your resume in house.

*    Prospective roles don't all come in through the breakdown service and it is your agent's job to keep informed about what's going on when. You can help by letting you agent know if you hear about a production through your own grapevine; they can find out more and see if they can get you in to be seen. They will help you get ready for auditions by providing background info on the role and assisting you with wardrobe selection and line preparation.

*    A good agent will be available, often twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to discuss your career in terms of: visual presentation (packaging), what types of roles you're interested in and/or best suited for, who your competition is, how best to sell you, prioritizing goals and suggesting what you need to be doing for yourself to achieve them.

*   An effective agent will be compassionate and understanding of your needs as an actor and can be a good sounding board for your professional and personal concerns. An agent can be your cheerleader before you go to audition for a job and your shoulder to cry on if you don't get it.

*   One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you're fresh out of theatre school is to assume that, once you've got your agent, you're all set and, if you were getting leads in school, you'll be getting them now.

*   Only a very rare and lucky few get their careers off the ground right away. You need training and experience. Once you've finished the main bulk of your training, you'll have to invest up to an equal amount of time to get yourself established in the professional world. It's a full time job and you will have to sacrifice time, money, and social life to get what you want.

*  If you don't have an agent, start making initial contacts before you graduate. Send a photo and resume with a well thought out covering letter and invite them to see you perform. All photos and resumes must be professional, up to date, and a good representation of you; these will cost you money. You need to shop around for a good photographer and seek advice on drafting an actor's resume. Referrals from established actors can be helpful as well. Do some homework first and find out about the agencies you'll be sending stuff to. It is not a good idea to answer ads in newspapers or magazines; use reliable sources among teachers, actors, Actor's equity and publications to find legitimate talent agencies.

*   Having an agent doesn't mean that you can sit back and relax. Whether you have an agent or not, it is always important to brush up on skills, learn new ones, and gain experience.

*    Check out local workshops, classes, community theatre and independent theatre companies; get involved in a fringe or festival show.

*   Persistence pays, it's not glamorous; it's no business to be in if you want to be a star; you have to be prepared for a lot of rejection while you're working your butt off trying to get auditions and trying to pay the bills with a part-time job.

*   You may want to set yourself goals in terms of "in ... number of years, I want to accomplish ..." And, as impossible as it may seem, try to keep a life happening in spite of all the hard work you have ahead of you. Any outside interests that you maintain can only round you out both as an actor and as a person.

*   So, you still want it? Wanting it is important too. You have to want it, believe in yourself and work like hell to do it. A very wise acting teacher once said that "we are the damned." He was half joking but it only goes to show that a sense of humour about all this craziness is paramount to keeping your sanity.

*   It's hard work, but when it's working, it's a lot of fun!!!

 

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8.  About Casting Directors

 

*   A Casting Director is a person hired by the producers of a show to find talent (or "cast") for the show. These are the people who the agent will send photos and resumes to, and the actor will audition for. Casting Directors ("CDs" for short) have to find the best possible cast out of thousands of available actors, and must always keep up to date on the newest and hottest faces. Many CDs are former actors themselves and pride themselves on knowing just about every working actor in the business.

*    While it is possible to submit your photo and resume directly to a Casting Director if you know of a role being cast, they usually only seriously consider those submitted by an agent or actors that they already know. How do you get to know a CD? By auditioning for another role or arranging an "interview".

*    When they're not actively casting a project, Casting Directors will often interview actors that they've never met in order to get to general feeling of what types of roles these people might be good for. Unfortunately, a CD's time is at a premium and just about every actor and their cousin wants an interview, so you'll have to work hard to get an appointment.

*   If there's a particular Casting Director that you'd like to meet with (perhaps the one who casts your favorite show), it's a good idea to mail them your headshot and resume every few months or so. Also, you can send a photo postcard whenever you have an exciting announcement (such as a role in a film, show, or play). If a CD sees your face on a regular basis, eventually she'll probably want to talk to you.

 

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9.  The Casting Process Explained

 

*   Whether you are working on stage, in film or on television, the next time you audition for a part you will likely meet with the production's casting team. Casting is a key element in running any successful performing arts production and it is surprising how many actors, models, singers and other talent who don't actually know how the casting process works

*   Performers are hardly ever hired by the production company directly, but are instead hired by a casting company or by a casting director working for the production.

*   A casting company or individual casting director is hired to fill all of the roles in the production with the necessary talent. Typically there are two types of casting on every project, a principal casting director and a background casting director.

*   The principal casting director is responsible for filling all of the speaking roles for the production, while the background casting director is responsible for filling all of the non-speaking and 'movie extra' roles.

*    The principle casting process is fairly standard across television, film and commercial productions and always begins with the producer and casting director generating a 'Breakdown'. A breakdown is a complete list of the required talent that is distributed to all of the local talent agencies.

*    Agents then compare the needs of the casting director with their current roster of performers and select the best candidates for auditions.

*   Once a talent agent has selected a performer for a role it is customary to send a performer portfolio. A portfolio can contain a resume of prior work, photographs or even reels or video tapes of past performances.

*   Once the principal casting director has filtered through all of the submissions and selected their desired talent, the agent will receive a callback with the audition information. Some casting directors will also send agents 'sides'. Sides are small portions of the script that the director wants read at the audition.

*   Background casting, while not as complex as principal casting still requires attention to detail. The background casting director will typically provide talent agents with a list of necessary criteria and the required numbers of performers. Auditions are not usually required for background performers.

*   An audition is a sample performance by an actor, singer, musician, dancer or other performing artist. It is used in the casting process to demonstrate the level and range of a performer's talent. Auditions are essentially a job interview for the performing arts and are performed for a casting panel. Casting panels are often comprised of a casting director, producer, director and/or choreographer.

*   Most actors will have a repertoire of audition pieces to demonstrate different aspects to their talent set. However, some casting directors prefer to have the talent do 'cold readings'. Cold readings are performances based on non-memorized scripts. Most dance and music auditions also involve variations of cold reading. Musicians are often asked to 'sight read' music as opposed to playing rehearsed works. With dancing, the focus is always on learning and showcasing new choreography instead of showcasing prepared performances.

 

*   Regardless of the role you are auditioning to fill, you need to be prepared when you arrive to perform. Always bring two complete resumes which outline your prior work experience. It is also wise to bring two portfolios in case any member of the casting panel didn't receive one in advance.

 

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10.  Grab the Casting Directors' Attention

 

"How do I grab casting directors' attention when I self-submit?"

 

There are several professional ways to grab the attention of someone who opens self-submission envelopes. A complete answer would fill a book. There are three essentials before a casting office (or agent/manager) will take your self-submission seriously

 

Envelope

First thing they see is your envelope. Casting directors open hundreds of headshot envelopes.

Here are some examples of how not to get your envelope opened. These make a bad impression before they've even seen your cover letter and headshot.

Not acceptable:

An envelope addressed in pencil, or heavy black felt pen, handwritten illegibly or printed so fancy it looks like Louis XIV channeled it.

Acceptable:

Addresses typed on regulation labels in black ink. Simple bold font, size 14 minimum for the larger label. For the smaller return label: Smaller, same style font Arial is perfect. The Times New Roman is done to death. You also don't want anything too fancy. Arial makes a firm business-like impression. The letters march like little West Pointers, all spiffy and neat.

Not Acceptable:

Incorrect or misspelled names (people and company).

Acceptable:

Research everything well enough to know the correct name and spelling.

Not Acceptable:

Sending a request to be considered for xyz TV show when that casting office only casts for commercials. Or sending to a commercial casting office a request to be considered for any appropriate regional theatre role. Not too many casting offices really cast for everything.

Acceptable:

Do your homework until you know which offices cast for what. If you are interested in print work, for example, no sense in sending to a casting office that only handles feature films.

Not Acceptable:

Nailing or cementing the envelope flap down so tightly that it takes a champion wrestler to open it. If the casting director has to spend three minutes trying to wrestle with a flap, your envelope will go in the bin. A casting office weekly receives hundreds, sometimes thousands of submissions envelopes. The harder it is to open an envelope, the more likely it will get thrown out (unopened). Numerous requests from casting offices ask that the submission envelopes not be sealed.

Acceptable:

A couple of pieces of Scotch tape (not covering the clip). Or a lightly pasted flap. Self-sticking flaps cause a ruckus also.

 

Cover letter – (typed, of course)

Once you have passed the self-submission envelope test, next comes the cover letter. Here briefly are some simple suggestions.

 

1. Invest in really handsome top-of-the-line expensive business stationery. white, heavy weight with watermarks.Why spend the extra money? A fine sheet of stationery tells the reader that you have self-respect, that you care enough to want to create a good impression, and that you have good taste. Even if all this is subliminal, still their fingers feel the difference when they touch your cover letter. No, your resume need not be on expensive stationery. Just the cover letter.

2. Design a handsome, simple heading for your handsome stationery. Have your name, Website, e-mail and cell phone info in this heading. No personal phone numbers. No address unless it is a Post Office box.

3. The letter must follow the acceptable formal format for a business letter.

4. Type the letter in print large enough to be read in a hurry. And print dark enough so that they don't need a flashlight to decode the alphabet.

5. Dear Mr. or Ms. is the correct salutation. If you cannot tell the gender from the name, then address the letter "Dear Mr./Ms. Smith": But it's better to call the office and ask if "Avi Smith" is male or female. And keep searching until you find a name to address the letter to. Just "To Whom It May Concern" isn't good enough. If necessary, phone the office and ask to whom the submission envelope should be addressed.

6. Do not be cute, or "hi guy" friendly. Don't even try to be clever. Be simple, be polite. Very simply, state your reason for writing. Always do a spell check. Use correct grammar.

7.   Keep your letter short. Remember a lot of information is on the resume. Tell why you are writing. If you have used 12 words in a sentence, rewrite, edit, and revise it until you give the same information in 9 words. Be courteous by recognizing the necessity not to intrude on their time.A one-sentence introduction (This is being submitted for consideration for an audition for etc) is essential. Write three short sentences stating your special qualification and a one-sentence conclusion. No more. Have a point and get to it! End with Sincerely, or Yours sincerely, or Very truly yours. These are professional business letters. Follow the code.

8. Do not presume anything i.e. ‘I look forward to meeting you’. Do not for one minute think it is a positive upbeat ending. No - It is presumptuous. It is much more courteous to say that you would like to be considered for an interview. Some people can loose a role because, at the end of a fabulous callback, they say, "I look forward to working with you." You cannot make that statement until they have offered you the role. You cannot "look forward to meeting" someone until they have asked you to come in to see them.

 

*  People are still judged by their appearance and their language. Have the appearance of your envelope and your letter create great expectations. Have the brief content of your letter fulfill those expectations.

 

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11.  Self-Promotion for the Actor

 

*    If you're thinking about becoming a professional actor (or if you already are), you need to know how to promote yourself. The competition for roles, especially in large cities, can be staggering. So the more you know about self-promotion, the easier it will be for you to get your name and face in front of the people who matter.

*   Self-promotion begins with the right marketing "tools", which you're probably already familiar with: the headshot and resume (if you need more information about these, keep reading articles on this web site). Once you've got a headshot that you're proud of, and checked your resume to make sure that it has no errors, you're ready to send this "calling card" off to promote yourself. How do you send it? And who do you send it to?

*   The answer to the first question is to prepare a cover letter to send along with your photo/resume. The letter should be brief and to the point. Introduce yourself and state your purpose for contacting this person. A simple cover letter might read like this:

Dear Mr ... :

My name is (your name here) and I'm new to the London area. I've relocated here from (place) where I studied at (place studied), and appeared for three years as (character) on the daytime soap/in the production(s)...

I'd enjoy meeting with you for an interview or audition, at your convenience. I also have a videotape of clips from my performances as (character). If you'd be interested in viewing it, I'd be happy to drop it by your office. Thank you for your consideration, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely, Your Name

 

*   You'll want to personalize the letter in whatever way you can because agents and casting people get so many submissions from actors. You want yours to stand out but keep your tone professional and clear If you can be funny, so much the better - everyone loves a little humor. You'll probably refine the letter over time, as you grow and gain experience. Don't be afraid to experiment, to change it until you feel you've got a great letter.

*   Now that you've got a letter ready to use, who do you send it to? If you're in one of the larger cities, check newsagents for the weekly theatrical newspaper if you're in a smaller city, look in the phone book under "Theatrical Agents," check the local paper's arts listings for auditions, and visit online casting webs sites.

*   Keep track of the people you've sent photos to, and follow up with a flyer for the next show you're in, inviting them to come (offer them complimentary tickets to the show). Once you've made a start on your "mailing list," send flyers and photo postcards to those same people every time you're in a good show or film. Persistence is all-important: you need to keep your name and face in front of the people who matter, because they'll eventually begin to recognize you, and one day they might give you a call to come in and audition for a great role.

 

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12.  How to Find a Talent Agent

 

First, decide what you want in an agent. Consider how strong your resume is, what kind of experience you have? whether you are a union member, whether you have had an agent before, and what kind of work you want to do? You must look realistically at yourself, your ambitions, your talents, and decide what kind of agent you need at this stage in your career.

 

Few actors spend their entire professional life with one agent.

*    Agencies can be categorized in many ways: do they represent clients for extra work, or for actor and principal roles; do they promote clients for union or non-union work; are there many agents, or only one or two; does the agency maintain a large or a small roster; does the agent pay close attention to each client's career, or act as a booking agent; do they represent established, experienced actors, or develop new talent. Some of this can be found in the listings in this book. The rest you must learn from the agent and others in the industry.

*   Don't give in to desperation. While many kinds of work can only be accessed through an agent, there are projects that are available to the unrepresented actor who works at self-promotion. Signing with an agent is a major step in the development of your career. Make sure that the agent is right for you.

*   Committing yourself to the wrong agent out of panic may place you in a worse situation than when you had no agent at all.

*   In order to get what you want in an agent, you must also be able to offer an agent what they want in a client. Compromises may be necessary, particularly in the early stages of your career. However, once the negotiations are over and you have a mutually satisfactory agreement with your agent, keep in mind that you are the client; you have hired the agent to perform services on your behalf.

*   Getting a good agent is not easy. There are many things you can do to improve your chances. Take classes to improve your skills and make contacts; do whatever you can to gain experience: community theatre, fringe theatre, student films & videos, non-union work, co-op productions; create your own projects; develop your craft at every opportunity.

*   Keep in contact with receptive agents; invite them to see you in theatre projects you've developed.

*   Once you have an agent, don't expect your agent to make it happen for you while you sit back and collect cheques. Keep in touch with your agent, and continue to develop your skills. Your agent may be able to suggest ways to do this that you have not yet considered. Work with your agent to improve your chances and build your future.

 

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13.   How to Find an Agent... and Survive

 

You're looking for an agent. And there are people everywhere calling themselves agents, advertising for new faces, walking the streets looking for actors and models. Some of these are agents - mostly background or extras agents. Many of them are simply selling courses or photography sessions; others function as booking services for extras in addition to selling courses and photos, but lack the contacts to promote you as a serious actor or model. How can you tell the players from the phonies?

 

Agencies Who Advertise

*   Principal talent agencies rarely if ever advertise. These folks have so many hopefuls lined up at their doors, photos and resumes in hand, that they never need to look for new actors; when an opening appears on the roster, they already have more than enough applicants without having to pay to find more.

*   Some modelling agencies occasionally hold promotional events such as modelling contests; such events are infrequent, and heavily promoted in up-scale media with major corporate sponsors. Everything about the agency, the contest, and its sponsors is easily verifiable. But they do not advertise in other ways; they also have hundreds of hopefuls lined up outside the doors, and don't need to ask people to come and see them.

*   So who does advertise? Extras agencies sometimes do. There is a high turnover on some agency rosters as people either get frustrated and quit or (much less frequently) move up to actor's parts. Also, crowd extras (the most common type of extra work, but also the most boring and poorly paid) do not require a great deal of training or experience to start. But the better the extras agency, the less likely it is to advertise. Why? That long line of hopefuls standing patiently outside their door, resume in hand.

*   So when you see an ad in the paper, or on TV, or at a transit stop, or a sandwich board, think about who might be behind the ad. Certainly not a well established professional agency that already has its hands full of applicants.

*   Maybe a brand new agency that doesn't have a reputation yet, and no line of hopefuls at the door. But it's far more likely to be someone in the business of selling services to a high volume of people, and that's not how a real agency makes its money.

 

Administration and Maintenance Fees

*   Agents earn a living on the commissions you pay them when you get work. In most agencies, normal costs such as phone bills, breakdown and courier fees, salaries and overhead are paid out of general revenues, which is to say, commissions.

*   However, some talent agencies charge maintenance fees to cover some or all of these costs. Where maintenance fees are charged, it means that the agent does not expect to be able to pay normal costs out of commission revenue. This may mean that the agent thinks you will not get work, or in the worst of cases it may mean that the agent is not an agent and cannot get you work. So if an agency asks for money up front to represent you, you should be cautious.

*   If you are inexperienced, perhaps the agent is taking a chance on you. Many agencies who represent new performers or extras charge maintenance fees because their people may work less often and earn less money when they do work.

*   Established principal talent agencies should have a strong enough roster that they do not need to charge registration, administration, or maintenance fees. Modelling agencies do not charge any registration fees, and rarely charge maintenance fees.

*   Agencies which charge such fees average around £40 per year; fees should not exceed $80 per year. Agencies should not charge fees of a union member.

 

Photographic Services

*   Agencies are not photographic studios; however, agents will have varying degrees of involvement with the photographic requirements of the actors and models they represent. Generally speaking, legitimate talent agencies do not offer ionium photographic services for actors.

*   Some talent agencies will make arrangements for you but if you are told that you must have photos taken through the agency, leave at once.

*   Standard procedure is for a talent agency to give you a short list of photographers that they recommend. You should visit each one, look at their work, and select the one you feel the most comfortable with. Photos are a vital promotional tool. While an agent's advice about what photographer to use may be helpful, it is your choice to make.

 

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14.  Meeting with a Talent Agent

 

Congratulations! You did it! You managed an agents attention and they’ve agreed to take a meeting. That means you get one shot to convince them that their career as an agent cannot continue unless your name is on my list.

 

*   The process is simple. First, agents always meet one on one with potential clients. This gives them a chance to really get to know the person. If that goes well, they’ll ask the you to come back and meet the other agents. It's essential that everyone be in agreement. One agent should never try to convince the others to sign someone.

And that's basically it. The only problem is actors tend to be their own worst enemy.

*   Agents find it puzzling that an actor will put so much effort into getting a meeting with them but the actor won’t know how to behave once they’re actually in the office.

*   Before we tackle this subject, let's make something clear. The agent wants to like you. It's their job to sign actors and if you're sitting in their office, that means you did something right. Maybe I noticed your submission. Maybe someone referred you. Or maybe they saw your work in a showcase. Whatever it was, something positive happened to get you into that chair. So don't turn a positive into a negative. You've got 15 minutes to make an impression. That's 900 seconds. You have to use that time wisely.

*   So how should you behave in my office? Well, think of it this way. Meeting with an agent is like a first date. You've got two people in a room. They're sizing each other up. And they're both wondering if it's going to go any further.

Now ask yourself this: what's the worst thing you can do on a first date?

Answer: Talk about yourself.

There's nothing worse than being stuck on a date with someone who spends the whole night going on and on about themselves. It's the same thing in a meeting. An agent will tend to tune out actors who waste their time by doing a non-stop monologue about who they are and what they want.

 

*   So don't play into the stereotype of the narcissistic, self-involved actor. It's dull. It's boring. And worst of all, it doesn't give them a chance to really get to know you.

*    Instead, walk into that office and create an atmosphere where you can both get to know each other as people. They have to forget that you're an actor seeking representation. They need to see you as an individual, to get a sense of who you really are outside the world of show business.

*   How do you do this? Easy. Try to have a normal conversation. Maybe there's something in my office that catches your eye. Or maybe you just saw a great movie. Whatever. The idea is to get into a give and take situation where you're talking about anything but acting. This will give them a chance to get to know the real you.

*   You want to try to make a connection with the agent, and help them understand who you are. You want to build a rapport, be friendly, be yourself …

“I once met with a young lady who had "tarot card reader" listed on her resume under Special Skills. It just so happens that I love anything having to do with the occult. So we started talking about it and the next thing you know, we're both sitting on the floor and she's giving me a reading. As a result, we really got to know each other and I ended up representing her for many years. Now that's what I call a good meeting!” - Agent

 

Remember - it's easy for an agent to pass on an actor seeking representation. They do it every day. But saying no becomes just a little bit harder when we've spent 15 minutes getting to know you as a human being. And that might just be enough to get you signed as a client.

 

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15.  Your meeting with an Agent - in depth

 

So, Tell Me About Yourself…

 

Do these words strike fear into your heart?

…Or are you thinking, “Finally, someone wants to know about me!"?

What do you say to such a broad opening line?

 

*   When you get that prized interview with an agent, you want to be as prepared as possible. You have copies of your favorite headshot and resume, neatly stapled and trimmed, plus a couple of monologues prepared in case the agent asks you to "Show me what you can do."

*   But the first part of the interview is sometimes awkward for both agent and actor, as you both make an effort to get on the same wavelength. The agent has probably already seen your headshot and resume, and if you're lucky, he or she may have seen your work in a play or film.

*   But the agent wants to get to know you a bit more personally, and to find out how you present yourself to people in the business. After all, if you work with the agent, he or she will be sending you to audition for other professionals in the business -- the agent wants to make sure that you'll present yourself professionally.

*   So the agent says, "Tell me a little about yourself." Or "What's your background?" What do you say?

*   You should prepare ahead of time for this moment, just as you've prepared your photos and monologues. Here's your opportunity to be a writer, to create exactly the monologue that suits you as a person. And you should memorize and practice it, just as you would an audition piece, until you're completely confident about it. You do of course want to be yourself and sound natural, but it always helps to have a few things prepared, and a starting point, and a guide thought the meeting to stop you getting stuck.

*   Think about what you'd want the agent to know about you… Don't just rattle off your resume; the agent has already seen that. But you can mention a few highlights, just to emphasize your strong points. If you have good training, be sure to mention this. People in the business like to know that you know what you're doing. If you've played some lead roles in plays the agent might recognize, mention this. If none of the above apply, don't let it shake your confidence. Every actor had to start somewhere - pick a role you've played and talk about why you enjoyed it, or what you learned from the director or another actor you worked with. You can talk about what it is that turns you on about acting - is it the opportunity to get into a character's head and rummage around that you enjoy, or the chance to express yourself on stage? What do you love about the theater?

*   If you have a hobby that is particularly interesting, such as stunt motorcycle riding, you can mention this. Try to give the agent as clear a picture of what's unique about you as you can (but remember to be professional -- you don't want to go too far over the "weird" line), and communicate from your true self, rather than putting on some kind of mask. You don't have to list every hobby you have -- "I do flower arranging, and I have seven cats, and I love books, and every Friday night I go swing dancing, and bird-watching on Saturdays. . ." In fact, it's better if you "distill" your monologue into a 15-30 second distinct image of who you are. Agents are usually short on time, and the more clear your presentation, the more they'll see you as a professional.

*   Finally, remember that if an agent has invited you in for an interview, he or she is already interested. You don't have to push. Be as relaxed as you can, be as much your "real self" as you can, and relate to the agent on a personal level, as you do a friend or acquaintance. The agent will hope you are a down-to-earth, interesting (and professional) person, someone he or she might enjoy working with. View the interview/meeting as one of several paths leading to many possibilities, rather than as a career success or failure test.

 

A final note:

If you have an interview with an agent, and find yourself extremely uncomfortable in that person's presence - if they yell at you or put you down, or exhibit very negative behavior -this is probably someone you don't want to work with, because they'll just continue to abuse you throughout your relationship.

Trust your instincts -- if you're uncomfortable, keep looking for an agent. There are plenty of good agents out there, and you'll know when you've found the right one.

 

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16. Ten Interview Blunders Actors Make - How to Correct Them

 

The following examples, positive and negative, are taken from real interviews.

Let's start with your appearance.

It's important to note that, like in an audition, decisions are often made before you even say a word. Appearance, along with attitude, helps create that instantaneous impression.

Packaging is everything in this profession, whether it's for an audition or an interview. In fact, it helps to think of an interview as an audition, requiring a monologue and Presence, Poise, Preparation, and Packaging.

 

How to blow the interview/meeting: Appearance

Dress in ragged or dirty tee shirt and jeans (male or female), sneakers, hair hanging apparently unwashed, no makeup (female), unshaved (male). "Hey, Mr. /Ms. Agent or Manager or Director, take me, warts and all, just the way I am when I spackle the bathroom or work in the sewer." (Do not do this.)

 

To get what you want: Appearance

Dress almost as if interviewing for a job smart-casual

 

Clothes

Females - Skirt (medium modest length), blouse or sweater with no cleavage, medium heels, , nice makeup (not glamorous unless you are traffic stopping gorgeous), hair pulled back so that your face can be seen. No perfume.

Males - Sports jacket, shirt, (cleaned and pressed), tie is optional. Even if you are "street punk," let that be determined by your face and voice, not by dirty clothes, clunky boots or sneakers. Be shaven, washed and with combed hair (again, unless street punk or prison inmate type). No cologne or shaving lotion.

 

To blow the interview: pictures and resume

1. Arrive with no picture or resume. Be sure to give a long rambling excuse, including that you were in a hurry and forgot.

2. Arrive with outdated picture/resume.

3. Be sure the resume is untrimmed, sticking out past the headshot. When asked why it is untrimmed, mumble that you didn't have time to go to a copy shop and have it professionally cut.

4. Be sure to have a glamorous headshot that doesn't look the least bit like "natural" you.

 

Note: Some shows call with a same day audition for the small roles. What to do? Have audition clothes, pictures and resume always ready.

 

To get what you want: picture and resume

1. Have five P/Rs with neatly trimmed edges. Have your resume follow exactly the industry standard resume format. 2. Hand the agent your comp card if he/she handles print work. Have it easily available so you don't take three minutes fishing in a bag big enough to carry most of your worldly goods.

2. Be sure your headshot reflects your type. "Real" is in, big! Sexy will always sell but friend-next-door or character actor is much more in demand. Unless you are truly stunning, go for "real."

 

To blow the interview: false claims & lack of preparation

1. Your resume says you sing (musical theatre). Get to the interview and say:

A. "Oh, you know, like, uh, I can carry a tune."

B. "I don't have this memorized but I love it so much I'd like to sing it anyway." (Yes, this is a verbatim quote from a recent interview.)

C. "I sing with a band." (Irrelevant to agent who handles musical theatre.)

2. Your resume says you dance (musical theatre). Get to the interview and say "Well, I took tap in junior high but I've been meaning to take another dance class soon."

3. Your resume says you were on "Law & Order," "The Sopranos," and four studio films. Get to the interview and "Well, yes, they were all extra jobs but you could see me clearly in one shot."

 

To get what you want: preparation

1. Often an agent or manager will ask for a monologue. Have three or four ready at your fingertips. Have them so thoroughly prepared that you can go on automatic pilot, if necessary. Do not stop, fumble, smile sheepishly, or apologize if you forget your lines. Cover your errors.

And since this may be in an office it would be preferable to select a monologue that doesn't have yelling or screaming in it. Also most agents, etc. prefer monologues without obscenities.

2. Have three songs memorized if you are presenting yourself as a singer. Have your music with you. Many theatre companies have "invited" general auditions. If yours is for a musical, take several songs with you and have them all ready to perform perfectly.

3. Do not claim anything on your resume that is not true. Do not try to pass off extra work as a featured role.

 

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17.  Interview blunders - General suggestions

 

*   Interviews are often just "talk," unless they are a kind of invited general audition which is combined with a brief interview. It's a good idea to run several mock interviews with fellow actors who have been through the experience. Sometimes it pays to see a coach for an hour's work on interview techniques. Just be sure the coach has also been out there recently interviewing, now-not 20 years ago.

*   Interviews are conducted by the interviewer. Follow their lead. Do not babble

*   And the flip side of babbling is to sit like a mute, mumbling yes and no.

*   Be ready for almost any topic during an interview. Think quickly and be diplomatic without being insincere. Be open. Never chatter about your philandering boyfriend or double crossing girlfriend or anything negative. Most important, never complain or bad mouth people you've worked with past.

*   Do not discuss politics or religion.

*   Have a mini monologue prepared called "Myself," full of short amusing stories and be flexible enough to ad lib constantly throughout that biographical monologue.

*   Thankfully, most interviews are rather boring, polite and short. They just want to get a sense of whether you are marketable and whether you will be pleasant to work with.

*  In conclusion, here are a few general pointers for interviews:

*   Good manners are noted and appreciated.

*   Sitting in a chair properly shows respect.

*   Being organized creates a great impression.

*   Chewing gum also creates an impression, but not the kind you want to make!

*   Take your conversation cue from the agent. Formal? Breezy? Cool? Professionally distant?

*    Be on time, no more than five minutes early and not one minute late.

*   Do not have a snit because you are kept waiting. Agents are busy and have constant demands from casting offices who have emergencies. It is not an insult to you personally.

*   Keep the snit under control if you are constantly interrupted by the telephone. Be gracious. And remember charm goes a long way!

*   An obvious but necessary comment: If you are called in for an interview it is because they are interested in you. Something about your resume or looks or performance caught their attention.

*   Create an interviewing persona whose major trait is charm. Make your interview the pleasant highlight of their day. They will remember that and you will achieve your goal: an agent, a manager, or a role.

 

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18.  About Managers

 

*   A manager is a person hired by the actor to find work, give advice, and generally guide the actor's career. For this service, managers typically take a 15% commission on everything the actor earns.

*   A manager's main focus is on guiding the actor's career and making connections, and although most of the best managers out there are former agents, the two have very different roles

*   Unfortunately, some of the most common scams in the entertainment industry involve people who call themselves managers, as this occupation is not regulated by any of the actors unions. These unscrupulous people will often promise the newcomer fame and fortune, but only for an up front fee. Or they will require you to get new headshots, a portfolio, and acting classes (all of which may be either very expensive or totally useless... or both).

*   Of course this is not true of all managers. But you should always be cautious and do your research before signing with a management company. Find out the names of other actors they represent and ask those actors about their experiences with the manager or company in question.

*   Most actors (with the exception of child actors who often need extra development and guidance into the business) will not require a manager until they are well on the road to success. If you think you may need a manager, here are a few things to remember when looking for one...

*   Management companies usually offer their services in exchange for a 15% commission, though it can sometimes be a little more. A legitimate manager will never ask for money up front.

*   A manager may recommend that you get more training or new photos, but should not require you to take a particular class or use a particular photographer as terms of your being a client. Until you're sure a place is legit, don't shell out your hard earned money for services you may not even need.

*   A manager should never ask you to disrobe or engage in sexually explicit "scenes".

*   Most legitimate managers will never approach an unknown actor. A successful manager is already busy with experienced clients, and you'll have to work hard to get their attention.

*   A manager should be well connected in the casting community and entertainment industry in general. Once again... do your research.

 

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19. Casting Directors Defined

 

What is a casting director and what do they actually do for a living?

…The reality of the situation is that this answer can differ from production to production.

*   Essentially, a casting director is the person or company that hires all of the talent in a performing arts production. Casting is always conducted pre-production and most casting directors never see the final product until release.

*   Casting directors need to have an innate talent at deciding the right person for a role, even before anyone else can. Some productions can take up to 2 years to complete and directors and producers hate replacing people in the middle of a production. Imagine having to re-shoot fifty percent of a television commercial because one of the actors walked off the set. This would cost incredible amounts of money and most likely the casting director would lose their job.

*   Casting directors themselves are often former actors and use their old skills to test and challenge new actors during auditions. Casting directors are constantly in communication with talent agencies and scouts, all in an effort to find that 'new face' or 'raw talent'.

*   Because more and more productions today have higher budgets, they are requiring more and more talent. In a large film production with hundreds of roles to cast a casting director may have to interview thousands of people before finding the right combination for the film. During the earlier stages of the audition process casting directors will often have their assistants interview the majority of the actor applicants.

*   Once the assistants have narrowed down the applicant pool, the casting director will begin conducting call-back auditions. Through the call-back auditions, the casting director is able to place all of the talent into the matching roles. Because the casting director is trying to realize the artistic impressions of the director and producer, there may be many series of call-back auditions.

*   Casting directors can be associated with hiring big name stars and performers, but in some cases the casting director can defer the job to the director or producer.

*   Casting directors primarily fill all of the speaking and non-speaking roles, including the leads. The casting director usually does not cast the remaining non-speaking parts or the background roles.

*   This brings us to the other half of the casting process called background casting. Background casting is usually the responsibility of a second casting director who specializes in that area, and is the process of hiring all of the background talent.

*   Background casting directors will contact talent agencies and give them very simple details about who to bring to the production. Unlike speaking and non-speaking roles, auditions are rarely held for background actors.

*   The truth of the matter is that directors and producers will instruct casting directors to contact specific talent directly to fill key roles.

*   These performers are usually asked to perform a first audition to get a feel for the material and are then invited to a call-back later on in the audition process.

*   Now that the casting director has narrowed down the field, the director and producer are called in to perform final auditions. It is at this point that the pre-selected talent or stars are brought back in for their follow-up auditions. The casting panel will usually have group interviews as well as solo interviews to judge the chemistry between all of the performers.

 

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20. What are Casting Calls?

 

*   A cast is a team of actors who play various roles in a movie or TV production. So, what are casting calls?

*   Casting calls are notices made to the public or to various casting agencies for requirement of actors for an upcoming production.

*   Casting calls belong to a wide spectrum of productions. From a student filmmaker to a heavyweight production house, any one can publicize for cast requirements. The notices are made public via different medias such as industry trade journals, online bulletin boards, production lists, word-of-mouth, and agent notification to name a few.

*   Most struggling actors subscribe to trade magazines to find out about casting calls and also by registering with casting agencies. Those casting agencies which specialize in providing extras for film and TV provide struggling actors with a realistic opportunity to get a foothold in the movie industry. The best part is that the casting agencies accept anyone and an agent, therefore, becomes almost redundant.

*   On the other hand, an agent's prime objective is to find the best parts for the client. All established agents have well-established relationships with major casting agencies, production companies, studios, directors and other industry people that bring out casting notices. Usually casting calls are generic in nature. Nevertheless, there maybe times when calls are made for specific age, appearance, gender and other special skills. Any role which may require nudity shall indicate the same right in the beginning.

*   Casting calls are often used for filling out the remaining cast after the main actors are decided. A-list actors are not required to attend casting calls. They become a part of the project through inside dealings.

*   Whenever there are production calls for inexperienced people to fill roles, the casting calls are publicized on a broad network to the public. When you respond to a casting call, don't be surprised if you find serpentine queues or if you are made to fill applications, and interviewed before the actual audition. The callback usually is accompanied with more auditions in an attempt to cast the right people.

*   Being an actor is seen as a quick road to power, money, and fame. Taking advantage of these facts, many bogus casting calls are conducted and often lead to innocent people becoming victims of greed and sexual abuse. Therefore, a good way to safeguard yourself would be to respond to only authentic and legitimate avenues to pursue your goals!

 

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21.  Yell Be Discovered!

 

You probably already know, the casting calls and casting notices that you may have seen or heard about primarily exist to gain the attention of the general public, beginning actors, and those interested in being discovered and becoming the 'next big thing.' Casting calls are quite varied in the way that they can be announced. Casting calls can come directly from the Director of a popular main stream film, to someone simply holding an audition for a school play.

In more basic terms, a casting call will be made to gain attention of media wannabes or perhaps struggling actors that keep their eye out for any potential work, which could mean that they can get listed on the books of an acting agency or could be picked to perform in the latest edition of a good television program – perhaps even a great motion picture sequel!

You might see or hear of casting calls in many different forms, which may include the following:

• Advertisements in Newspapers and Local Magazines.

• TV Commercials.

• Local News Stories.

• Bulletin Boards.

• Notification directly to Talent Agencies.

• Electronic Casting Web Sites.

• Industry Trade Magazines.

 

Do remember though that the biggest ads are usually used to find movie extras, read those without experience, so they will attract a huge number of applicants. However, don't let this put you off – if you are right for the role then so be it.

As an experienced actor looking for work either on your own or through a talent agent, you will find that the agent will generally keep on top of this for you – she or he is working to get the right person on their books a great part, so they usually form good relationships with casting directors and big-name production companies and studios that can supply them with information on casting calls.

 

Usually, if you are struggling to find your audition, you can find out about casting calls via the trade (if you keep up with trade news) and by signing up with a casting web site. In addition to that, you might be able to sign with a talent agent or casting agency. Casting calls can demand a certain person, you know one with blonde hair, blue eyes, freckles – but they will usually state in the ad if they are looking for nudity so don't let that put you off either. Bear in mind that the more selective you are to begin with, the less likely you are to be invited to a casting call and therefore you will have less credits to add onto your acting résumé.

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22. Understanding the Importance of Casting Calls

 

*   Casting calls are notices made to the public or to casting agencies that actors are required for an upcoming production. The term can be applied widely, since anyone from a student filmmaker to a major motion picture studio can issue a casting call. The notification can take place in many forms, including industry trades, online bulletin boards, word-of-mouth, agent notification and casting web sites, to name just a few.

*   As a beginning actor, the importance of casting calls is huge. This is primarily how you will go about getting work.

*   Later on, after you have worked on several jobs and have a strong acting résumé, you might be able to sign with a talent agent or talent agency who will locate all future work for you.

*   A somewhat experienced actor with a talent agent will look to him or her to drum up auditions for them. Established talent agents have well-oiled relationships with major casting directors, production companies, studios and other industry insiders. It is the agent's job to use these relationships and contacts to find the best parts for their clients.

*   But we're getting ahead of ourselves here. In order to get a talent agent, you must already have a fair amount of acting experience and an impressive acting résumé.

*   So how do you get that all-important experience and an impressive résumé? You locate acting roles on your own by searching out quality and legitimate casting notices, casting calls, and auditions. Where do you find casting calls? Most actors do two things. They diligently read the industry trade magazines and join casting web sites.

*   The casting calls printed in the industry trade magazines and posted on popular acting web sites are not for "A" list actors. The principal actors and the "stars" are generally attached to the project through inside dealings prior to the project getting funding and going into development. The casting calls are, instead, used to fill out the rest of the cast. The roles most often found on the casting calls are usually the lesser, supporting roles.

*   When projects call for many actors to fill roles, these casting calls are referred to as "cattle calls." Often reality series television shows will announce casting calls on the air to fill roles for an upcoming season. In this case, hundreds or even thousands of people might respond. Casting calls of this kind require standing in long lines, filling out applications and interviewing or auditioning. Callbacks come later and usually involve more auditions as the thinning process continues. It is not unusual to get four or five callbacks before getting a part or being turned down.

*   Acting is a popular pursuit of many young people, and unscrupulous persons take advantage of this fact every day by conducting bogus casting calls that require nudity or partial nudity. These fake "casting calls" are often conducted in someone's apartment or home. Never attend a casting call that takes place in a private home or residence.

*   When in doubt, bring a friend or relative along with you and always let others know where you are going. A good way to safeguard yourself is to avoid responding to small, inexpensive ads and stick with legitimate avenues of pursuit for your goals. There are many online resources and well-established casting companies for inexperienced and experienced actors alike. A little diligent research and patience will pay off in the long run.

 

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23.   The Casting Process in Action

 

Many new actors have misconceptions about how the casting process works. To alleviate some of this confusion, here is a hypothetical example of how a guest-starring role on an imaginary daytime drama may be cast:

• The producers of the soap opera "Secret Lovers" have just gotten the script for one of next month's episodes. In this particular episode is a new character named "Lisa", a scheming young woman who will seduce the series star.

• The producers call the Casting Director that they have used for years and describe the character of Lisa. The CD already has in mind a few actors she has seen before for the role, but submits a "Breakdown" which is a written description of the character.

• The next morning, every agent reads the "Breakdowns", a publication that lists every role that is currently being cast. The agent goes through his files, searching for clients who would be right for "Lisa". He selects several photos and sends them to the Casting Director.

• The Casting Director receives envelopes from all these agents and must go through hundreds of photos looking for the right "Lisa". Even if a photo looks great, the CD will still turn it over to look at the resume on the back and see what other work the actor has done. Finally, she narrows it down to about thirty attractive female actors and calls their agents to arrange an audition.

• The agent calls his client and tells her about the audition. He may either send her the "sides" (a sample script to be read at the audition) or have her come to his office to pick them up.

• The actor goes to the audition (probably quite nervous) dressed as she thinks "Lisa" would dress. She has prepared for the audition scene for several hours, getting the character just right. Now all she has to do is sit quietly with several other "Lisa" wannabes until it's her turn to audition. She doesn't waste time gossiping with the other actors, but instead uses the time to go over the lines and get into character.

• The actor is called into the audition room and sits across a table from the Casting Director and her assistant. The actor has read for this CD before, so they talk and catch up for a moment before beginning the scene. Then the Casting Director's assistant does the scene with the actor, reading the other character's lines.

• The actor performs brilliantly, bringing a touch of vulnerability to Lisa's scheming nature. The Casting Director watches her performance closely, noticing everything. Most of the actors she has see so far today were rather bland and predictable, so she's quite pleased with the performance.

• After the reading, the Casting Director thanks the actor and asks for another copy of her headshot and resume. The actor gives them to her, smiles, then walks out past all the other actors still waiting for their chance to read.

• The actor goes home, not too hopeful. She has done several other auditions this week, with no response. But the next day, her agent calls and says that they want to see her again. A "callback" is the industry term for another audition for a role. For a major role or a national commercial, you may have to do several callbacks before you know if you've gotten the part.

• The Casting Director has narrowed down the hopefuls to about ten, and she sees each of them again. The actor returns in the same outfit she wore the the first audition and does her performance the exact same way. The CD is pleased with the performance, but asks the actor to do the scene differently, maybe "a little lighter". She doesn't do this because she didn't like the first way, but because she wants to see if the actor can take direction well.

• The second performance is even better than the first, and the Casting Director shakes the actor's hand when she's done. She's pretty sure she has found her "Lisa". That night, she shows the producers of the show a videotape of the performance. "No," they say, "We've decided that Lisa should be a blonde."

• Yup, sometimes that's the way it goes. You can lose a part because you're the wrong height, hair color, or because the producer's niece wanted the job. But Casting Directors will remember a good actor...

• A month later, the actor gets a call from her agent. The people from "Secret Lovers" are producing a new show called "Lovers Lane" and they want the actor to come in to read for the starring role of the new series.

• This is the way careers are made. You may not get every role you try out for, but if you do your best and behave like a professional, people will remember you and want to work with you. So work hard and be the best actor you can be. You'll get your big break soon enough.

 

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24.   A Star Is Found

 

*   Casting is a part of filmmaking that most people never think about -- but once you become aware of it, you might be startled at how central these decisions are to your experience of a film.

 

Just recall Hollywood's casting legends - Casablanca, for example. The studio's first choice for the role of Rick was George Raft, then a major leading man. Only when Raft wasn't available did the studio grudgingly accept minor contract player Humphrey Bogart, known mainly for playing gangsters in a slew of second-rate crime films.

 

Matching Boggart with Rick turned the actor into an icon for world-weary, cynical heroes with hearts of gold -- and it endowed the film with near-mythic status. Who knows what would have happened if George Raft had been the one to murmur "Here's lookin' at you, kid" -- but it's hard to imagine that a new type of film hero would have been the result. Bogart seemed so right that, once he was cast, the part seemed made for him -- even though he hadn't actually been anyone's first choice.

 

Or think of The Wizard of Oz with first choice Shirley Temple as Dorothy. When MGM couldn't get ''America's sweetheart," they reluctantly awarded the role to Judy Garland, then known mainly for her teen musicals with Mickey Rooney. Of course, even without Judy, Oz would have been endowed with magic, a gripping story, and a stunning score, but Garland brought to the film her extraordinary combination of vulnerability, longing, sweetness, and hope -- qualities that made a potentially good movie into a great one.

 

Or consider The Godfather, early candidates for which were Ernest Borgnine and Ryan O'Neal. Just take a moment to picture those two in the roles that Marlon Brando and Al Pacino ultimately played. At this point, the roles seem to have been written with Brando and Pacino in mind -- but that's only because they did, finally, get cast in them; it was hardly a foregone conclusion. Likewise, Charles Grodin has long been notorious as the guy who turned down the part eventually played by Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. Perhaps the movie would have been equally good with Grodin in the part - but at the very least, it would have been a different movie if Grodin, not Hoffman, had been the one to stammer, "Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?"

 

The essence of a good casting decision is that you simply take it for granted. Only when you imagine a cast being different do you realize how great an impact a casting choice can have.

 

To take a relatively recent example, think of the movie Good Will Hunting, which introduced Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to a broad audience. Matt plays the innocent math genius; Ben is his tough and knowing friend - casting choices that seem to work very well. Now imagine the two actors swapping roles - think of Ben as the math whiz and Matt as the working-class guy who's left behind.

 

That’s not saying the movie wouldn't have worked that way, but it becomes a different picture. Imagining these roads not taken helps illuminate the kind of magic that can be generated when an actor's persona, talent, and style mesh perfectly with his or her role.

 

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25.   Take a moment to think about the Casting director…

 

For a Casting director life isn’t simple : the sheer volume of parts can be daunting, let alone the commitment they feel to finding candidates, who are truly right for each role, actors who will fulfill the director's vision and help the movie reach its best potential.

 

Casting is a complicated, delicate, and almost alchemical business. A good casting director needs instinct, patience, and the ability to remember hundreds of diverse faces, voices, and performances. They also need the kind of empathy that enables you to know, almost before he or she does, what the director wants in a particular part, as well as the sympathy that allows them to put a nervous actor at ease or to help a potentially stellar actress find the great audition that you sense she can give. Perhaps most important, they need the kind of wild faith that enables them to keep believing in miracles -- to know that the part that's gone unfilled for months will eventually be cast, to find the performer who's eluded you for so long, to see the talent in the awkward but brilliant kid whom no one else will consider. When that kind of faith is rewarded, it's a thrill like nothing Those are the moments they live for, the times that make all the anxiety worthwhile.

 

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26. Film and Stage Acting

 

"What are the differences between stage acting and camera acting?"

*   It is so easy to misinterpret "acting" words and phrases. I've seen tragic consequences of misunderstood language or instructions which can take years to correct. I have seen promising talent destroyed by bad instruction.

If you can act, you can surely act on film, given a few valuable tips.

*   Train for stage and then carry that training over into film with some adjustments. But be careful. The words that try to describe the necessary adjustments from stage to screen can cause irreparable damage. Or even if you opt for no stage training, film acting instruction is fraught with danger. It is a minefield of misused language.

PULLED BACK: Used to distinguish stage and film acting

PULLED BACK: Bah humbug! Run as fast as you can from that phrase. Why? Because it creates monotonous, lifeless, boring, turtle performances.

*   When discussing acting for the camera the inner life, the eyes, the voice, the heart of the artist dies when you "pull back." As a general rule camera acting is being normal. Stage acting is not, however neither one of them is actory or pulled back or dead or monotonous or turtle-like.

*   Some obvious differences between film and stage acting need very little elaboration.

*   Volume: In films the mike is either clipped to you or is hanging over your head. You don't have to be heard in the last row of an auditorium. All acting is vocal. But acting on film is vocally normal. Acting on stage is not! No one in real life ever talked that loudly to someone sitting three feet away. Movement: In films If you meander around, you'll walk right off camera. "Hit your mark" and stay there unless told otherwise. Size: With film your face can be 50 feet high on screen. Every twitch, even a hint of a twitch, is seen. So film acting isn't "pulled back." It's the closest to "normal" that acting ever gets. Stillness: A word vital for all acting, but especially for film. "Stillness" is safer than "pulled back," because stillness refers to specific body movement. In real life, most people do not wave their arms around like semaphores. That is, until they start "acting." Especially on film, keep those arms, hands, head still. And forget in-the-face finger wagging!

*   You are told to restrict your gestures to one per act, which meant that the one gesture had to be very meaningful. It was great advice. Gesturing on camera is distracting. Have you ever noticed how the TV camera has to cut off close to the shoulders because the actor is gesturing (semaphore acting) too much? Like, hey I can get up there and do that too. I can be a movie star! I can be on Broadway! Yeah?

*   The most difficult acting task is being/sounding normal in front of an audience or a camera. And being still goes a long way to being and sounding normal. Stop flailing.

*   Another acceptable phrase for film acting: don’t act "Not acting" is very difficult. It requires absolute concentration to not act. Remember, the camera does a lot of the acting for you.

*   Being natural on stage or camera, in Restoration Comedy or on Third Watch is the goal we all must aim for. Natural ("normal") is what film acting insists on.

*   Woody Allen, somewhere, told about interviewing actors. He would really like them and then they'd pick up the script and start acting. His reaction? "stop acting."

*   It is the most difficult of all acting. To have control, to know what you are doing, to make exciting choices, to use your imagination and intuition and intelligence, to be fascinating, and all the time look normal, natural, not actory - "That's not acting?"

 

Congratulations. You just learned to act. On camera. And stage.

 

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27.   Where to Learn Film Acting

 

"Are there classes just for film or TV acting? What is the difference between acting on stage and acting on camera?"

*  Let's answer the easy part first: Yes, there are classes for film acting all over the world. In fact, look under a vine in the Brazilian Rain Forest and you'll find a come-on ad for an expensive class in camera technique! In the world of scams, film acting classes rate top ten. Be careful out there though there are lots of sharks.

 

There are many acting classes which specialize in just about everything: mime, improv, soap operas, commercials, martial arts, stage combat, auditioning, sit-com, Shakespeare and yes, acting on camera. You name it, somewhere it is being taught!

 

Look on Internet audition sites, see message boards. Speak to acting friends. Just don't plunk down a fortune until you have really checked out the coach/school/class. Film acting rip-off stories fill every acting message board.

 

1. If you have any colleges near you, call and see if they have a theatre department. Their curriculum will probably include a film course.

2. If your town has a community theatre group, talk to the artistic director, who probably can steer you toward on-camera classes.

3. Somewhere, in some city near you, someone is interested in making movies. Graduate schools in film making are excellent places to find would-be directors/writers. And they are always looking for actors.

On-camera experience is a great teacher, better than a dozen classes. And you just never know what heights that newcomer directing the film will rise to!

4. There are also videos on film acting you can buy. Go on-line and see what Amazon.com has to offer. Michael Caine has one out which received good critical response.

5. There are books about on-camera acting. Not quite the same as working “on-camera” but some are excellent. Go browsing in a bookstore or on-line.

6. Having read these books, get a Camcorder and practice in front of it. Do monologues, just talk and watch yourself talking. Do cold readings in front of your video camera. Watch yourself carefully and critically. Teach yourself. There is no better teacher in film work than you watching yourself on camera. The best lessons I’ve ever had in camera work have come from watching tapes of you own work.

…. “Ouch, even that tiny little glance was too deliberate! It stank of ’acting’!!! - “Wow, that was interesting I didn’t realize during the shoot that I had done anything”. “But that slight turn of the head worked why?” - It was not ‘acted’. You and your camera are your best teachers in Film.

7. With video and DVD, you can watch a film over and over and over. First the story -get that out of the way. Then start watching for the acting. Just watch and watch and watch until you finally start to SEE what the actors are doing. Or mostly see what they are NOT doing.

8. Look at their face. Especially the eyes see what makes so many actors' eyes look like they are acting. Then look at the real TV or film pros whose eyes seem to live naturally, not live like an acting teacher told them to.

9. Listen to the voices. What happens at the end of a sentence? Hear the rhythm of their delivery. All the CSI clones seem to have attended the same "pause" class. But it's hard to beat Caruso for unique delivery. Watch and listen. You are not there to judge whether you like someone. You are watching and listening in order to learn how the pros act on camera.

10. Look to see if something looks “actory.” Why did it look that way? Be sure and watch the “great” older actors also, even though they are a different generation and may act differently.

Once you have mastered really watching actors on film, you are half way home in learning how to act on film yourself. Watching the best actors - I mean really watching, not criticizing, not judging, watching, is the way to learn film acting. Then bring out the Camcorder and practice what you have learned. You will eventually discover your own eyes and voice and pauses.

So, to wind up… “Can you take classes in on-camera acting?” Yes, of course. It just depends on where you take them: in a £300 six-lesson class or watching a video over and over or watching yourself in a graduate film.

But first a learn to act... So get basic training first. Then use that training in all acting arenas. Remember that abused phrase, “Get real”? That’s acting! getting real! Movie, stage, TV or your own living room.

 

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28.   Acting is a Talent

 

Acting is a born talent (of varying degrees) that can be polished. The amount of polishing needed varies from person to person. The desire to act is NOT necessarily in proportion to the talent to act. The reasons people desire to act vary, falling loosely into these categories: desire for fame, for money, for glamour, for fulfillment, for self-expression, a love for the ART of acting, or because acting is a necessity like food and water. But the bottom line is that if you are born with a talent for acting, you cannot loose that talent.

If the desire to act is based on a love for the art and if that desire is accompanied by a bit of talent, then yes that love will indeed greatly compensate for minimum talent. It is my consistent contention that talent is never (or almost never) the main reason for a casting decision. There are dozens of famous stars who have almost no ability to act whatsoever. They are stars because of looks, personality, drive, ego, whatever. But stars they are!

 

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29.  Why Talent Doesn't Promise Success

 

Some greatly talented people cannot focus, cannot polish, simply cannot work at being successful. They will not learn lines, they skip rehearsals, do not self-promote -- in other words, they are dedicated to failure, regardless of their talent.

 

Actors have innate talent, imagination, intelligence, passion for acting, drive, a good ear, the ability to mimic -- the list is endless. Actors do not have "acting muscles" that need to be kept in shape. The only muscles an actor has which might lose strength if unused involve stage combat, falls, the martial arts, dance, and singing. You simply cannot lose the ability to act. Why not?

 

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30.   Let's look at what goes into acting

 

• The ability to recreate speech believably -- that is, to make memorized lines sound real. That has to do with hearing rhythm, pitch and recreating oral rhythm and pitch.

• Imagination -- the ability to create possibilities in a role.

• Intelligence -- the ability to understand the nuances of written language and apply that understanding to a script. The ability to memorize a script.

• Intuition -- that which one just "knows," without being taught or without having to figure it out.

• Presence -- an umbrella that covers poise, love of performing, desire to be seen, pride, confidence.

You can probably add a dozen more to the list. Not one of these is a muscle.

 

There are, of course, numerous personal reasons: illness, job requirements, family necessities, accidents, living where there are no opportunities, the need to work to make money to live or just plain "stuff happens" and that makes acting impossible.

Unless "life stuff" has happened which absolutely prevents your acting, then you might seriously examine why you are not out there in the auditioning pool.

 

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31.  Downtime Activities

 

If you really want to stay active, you might consider taking a class or forming a weekly play-reading group. You can also set a goal for yourself to read three plays a week and thus have a good working knowledge of your profession. Set a goal to read one Shakespeare play a week. Be sure to use a good edition with plenty of footnotes.

• If possible, go to open calls. They require acting. Brush up weekly on your monologues. You never know when an instant opportunity will come knocking.

• Read. It is my opinion that next to innate talent, the greatest asset for an actor is the ability to read and understand the nuances of what you read. Read reviews on the Internet of the plays you are reading. Read poetry. There are great poems that do not require a graduate degree in literature to understand and these same poems will change the way you see the world.

• Everything I am suggesting aims to broaden your understanding of human beings and this world we inhabit. A greater understanding of human nature will make you a better actor. If you take your "downtime" and use it to read, that subsequent growth of your humanity will compensate for the loss of growth as an actor.

• In the best of all possible worlds, all of us would act all the time, grow, and develop as human beings. In my Utopia, we would all read and look at art and nature and listen to great music and have compassion and understanding. Actors are born actors. But great actors must be nurtured and nourished.

• The best person to do that nurturing and nourishing is you. Perhaps the words here will partly act as a guide to that self-nurturing.

 

PS: It is almost impossible to recommend monologues to actors without first having met them and seen a brief sample of their work. The actor who wrote the letter quoted above could be 18 or 78. Hamlet or Lear? Tennessee Williams or Noel Coward? In monologues being prepared for auditions it is best to go with your strengths and for someone who has neither seen nor heard an actor, the idea of suggesting specific monologues is more dangerous that a dart game with a three year old!

 

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32.  Five and a Half Acting Tips Not Taught in Drama Class

 

The following tips are the result of working with actors, both as a fellow cast member and as a coach, actors who graduated from the best acting schools in America. Perhaps you have already discovered some of these tips on your own. If so, excellent! Continue your pursuit for more powerful skills sadly overlooked in drama school.

 

1. The Ubiquitous Omnipotent Comma. (De-throne Immediately.)

Contrary to actors' beliefs, commas did not descend from Mount Sinai, written on stone tablets!

Commas are the domain of a reader, not a speaker. Commas replace the missing human voice whose intonation helps decode written language and make it comprehensible - a fancy way of saying, ignore commas when you act.

They belong on a page, not in a spoken line. Replace commas, not with pauses, but with vocal variety - or ignore the squiggly critters completely! Do not pause when commas cross your path. Slide right across them. We don't talk in commas, so don't act in commas either.

My slogan as the comma cop is - down with pauses caused by commas!

The Pause the Exhausts. (Verbal exercise: stretch or leap.)

There used to be a slogan for one of the soft drinks: "The pause that refreshes." And yet in acting there are eighteen billion pauses, mistakenly believed to be dramatic or pregnant or sensitive or something. ("We find the defendant pause pause pause pause not guilty.")

"You have to earn a pause." Otherwise they are self-indulgent, mistakenly thought to reveal a deep and powerful soul. Not so.

There are lots of ways to replace pauses with interesting acting moments. To mention a couple: Stretch out the vowel in the word before and after the place you would normally pause. Ignore the pause. Stretch the vowels. Listen to a master do it, Richard Burton.

Another "pause" substitute is to leap over the pause as if you are a verbal kangaroo. Raise the pitch and leap into the word that follows the ignored pause. You can discover many other ways to lead the pause to the slaughter. Do it.

 

2. The Invasion of the Valley Girl Question

Maybe "Valley Girl" isn't a clear description. It refers to the dreadful habit of ending every sentence with a question mark in the voice: I went to the movies? I stood in line around the block? And in the speech of Olympic offenders, the middle of each sentence is also raised into that dratted question mark. The only thing missing is gum popping "Like, you know."

This Valley Girl inflection creeps not merely into ordinary speech but also into many line readings. The astounding thing is that not one teacher mentions it.

 

The Valley Girl inflection knows no gender lines. It is a pattern in actors on national TV shows. When it hits our great dramatic actors, we will admit defeat and the contagious Valley Girl question mark will, like the cockroach, survive forever. Horrors!

Chase it with whatever weapon you have. Especially become aware of the habit in your own speech pattern. Rid yourself of it before it takes over and becomes "To be or not? to be. Like you know? Like huh." (And "know" has a meow in the long O.)

Which leads directly into the next unrecognized line disease.

 

3. Conquering the Question Mark (How to ask without asking.)

In modern day speech we ask a question in several ways:

(1) The subject and verb are reversed: He is here --> Is he here?

(2) Certain words often imply a question: who, where, why, when, what, how.

(3) Most actors see a question mark and head for the lifted sentence ending.

 

That way lies guaranteed monotony….

(Its opposite, the dreaded ever-present drop at the end of each sentence, is equally as tedious.)

Consider making that question into a statement, especially if the words of the sentence are obviously written to produce a question; that is - if the sentence uses one of the "question" words or reverses the subject-verb order.

So instead of going up or raising the pitch at the end of a sentence, deliver the sentence as if it were making a statement (that is, the pitch remain exactly the same as its preceding few words or the pitch lowers a half tone).

Try it out. It creates interest, adds variety, and avoids the expected delivery (always a goal to be aimed for). And don't run out of energy as you finish a line, whatever pitch you select.

 

4. Moxie: The great unacknowledged star maker.

MOXIE defined:

1. Energy, pep.

2. Courage, determination.

3. Know-how, expertise.

Talent is not all. Yes, talent counts greatly. But it is not the final decision maker in casting or star-making.

There are lots of pretty, talented singers. What gets you cast is energy, ‘moxie’, personality and sassiness. That’s what it takes."

Talent will more often than not land you the job energy will. Talent is seldom the final word in casting. Moxie is. Energy is. They work!

Take chances, risks make oppourtunitites for yourself …

Charm your way into an invitation only audition… that is what it takes. Seeing and then seizing an opportunity!

And the last thing you may never have learned in drama class…

 

5. Semaphore Acting.

Arms and legs: You don't fling them around when you talk. Why do it when you act?

You are allowed one arm gesture per act. Make it count.

Act with your voice, your eyes, and slightly with your face. Do not wag your head. Keep it straight. Sit as the character. Walk as the character. Be in the character's body. But do not fling your arms around. Be still. The energy must be used to enhance, not to detract.

There they are: Commas, Pauses, Question Marks, Moxie, and Semaphores. Five tips which, if used, will not only polish your acting but will help you stand heads above your competition, even if you're 4'8". So here's to high heads! And here's to moxie without pauses!

 

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33.    Four Essential Acting Questions Answered

 

1. What are Sides?

"Sides" are segments taken from a script. A few lines, one page, or a whole scene, in lieu of a monologue when you audition. This is what casting people mean when they say "There are sides." Sometimes you do not see the sides until you go to the audition. In this case then, you will be doing a "cold reading." ("Cold reading" is auditioning with material that you have not seen in advance)

 

However, in the case of TV, feature films, or many regional theaters, the sides are given to you in advance. Sides can be obtained by your agent or manager, sometimes one day in advance, sometimes a week in advance. Your agent/manager downloads the sides and you pick them up or they can be faxed to you.

 

Unless you have several days and the sides are relatively short (one or two short speeches) do not spend time memorizing them. Instead, spend the time working on the sides themselves. Your aim first is to try and make sense of the story. That is, try to discover by inference what is going on in the plot and what your particular character is doing in the plot. If it is a play, Search for information about the play itself to read reviews. If it is a new play, search for information about the playwright. If there is no information, you are on your own -you and the text (page) in hand.

 

2. How can I connect with the reader at an audition?

You will have a reader only if you are doing "sides," a passage from the script. You probably will have had the sides in advance and have decided on your delivery.

Your line delivery at an audition is in your control. Do what you have prepared. If your reader does not feed you what you need or expect, go ahead with your prepared interpretation anyway-unless the reader's delivery elicits a bolder, more interesting response than the one you had prepared (a most unlikely scenario!).

The audition committee is much more interested in you and your acting than in your connection with their reader. Connection does not determine the degree of talent. Remember that whatever connection is necessary is determined by the listener. Hopefully in an audition with sides you will be speaking more than you are listening!

As in actual performance, at an audition you should be a sponge to what the reader (or the other actor) is saying. This "sponge" idea will make you a better listener.

However, someone very savvy said: "Actors are the only people on earth who stare into each other's eyes when they are talking to each other." So making eye connection-or even making a "great connection" with a reader probably does not even carry a vote when it comes to electing whom to cast.

Remember: The listener looks. The speaker thinks.

 

3. What is the best preparation for an acting career?

Instant spontaneous response? See a shrink.

Next response: Go to Tibet and then see a shrink.

Last response: A daily dose of arsenic after seeing a shrink daily.

The truth about preparing for a career in acting isn't exotic or mysterious--two three-word sentences.

Learn to read. Learn to hear.

("Hear," not "listen." Hear is what you do to learn how to act realistically. Listen is what you do in a scene.)

The Most Important Preparation for an Actor: Learn to Read.

Chances are the text has all the information you need to do a role. An undergrad major heavy in English Lit is a good way to learn how to act. Acting depends on what you do with the words. Vast and varied reading-that is, learning how to read is the way to learn what words are doing. Embrace courses in poetry, even if they are merely survey courses in, for instance, 19th Century British poets or 20th Century American poets. Read 19th Century British and 20th Century American novels. And read and study carefully an essay (now on the Internet) called

"Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell. That essay will open a door to language. Its thrust is not so much politics as it is the use of language. In my philosophy, Horatio, the invention of language far outstrips the wheel.

Language, words, is the tools of an actor. Learn how to read them for meaning, both obvious and subtle.

The Next Most Important Preparation for an Actor: Learn to Hear.

Train your ears. If you are going to learn how to hear, you might as well hear the best. To learn how to listen, so that you will know how to deliver a line, study British acting, even if your only source of British acting is a video of the great British TV comic series (Fawlty Towers, Yes, Prime Minister, As Time Goes By, Are You Being Served?). Study them carefully. Listen to the vocal nuances-even in the broadest comedy.

Have three or four films to watch over and over and over. Listen carefully to the delivery. Watch their faces, eyes, and stillness. Start with anything with Margaret Rutherford in it. The best may be "The Best Days of Your Life." Also study "Careful, He Might Hear You."

There are a few French films that can teach you almost everything you want to know about acting. However, a British film, "A Year in Provence," combines the best English and French acting. The French actors in that film are so good you are positive they are not actors. Listen and learn. Your ears will teach you the difference between monotone and variety, between fake and real.

 

4. What is the most difficult thing about acting?

No, the most difficult part is not getting a role. The most difficult part is not having to audition. The most difficult part is not trying to get auditions. The most difficult part is not the rejection. The most difficult part is not getting an agent or finding a great teacher. These are what so many actors find difficult. Of course they are all difficult. But not nigh on to impossible. Everything listed so far can be overcome, survived, solved The most difficult thing an actor has to do is to sound real with variety in the voice. Actors spend thousands of pounds delving into the self, soul-searching, analyzing motivation and feelings, etc, etc., etc. when all that is needed is for someone to say to them, "Get real, and have variety in the voice." The rest will come. But first sound "real" and "real" does not mean boring.

Learning how to sound real with variety cannot be taught by reading a book. It is almost impossible to write about sounding real with variety. It is something that must be heard and listened to. But I promise, absolutely promise, that if you will learn to sound real and at the same time have variety in your pitch, your rhythm and your volume, I absolutely guarantee you will start to book.

So that's it-several questions asked over the past several months which were answered privately and briefly, but which really affect us all.

 

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34.   Five Essentials for Building a Character

 

"I'm trying to become an actress but I can't seem to tap into my emotions. I'm having a problem 'becoming' a character. What can I do?"

1. Forget about "Character."

Forget about "character" and forget about your feelings. They will come later.

2. Study the Script.

Study the script carefully to discover the facts about your character. Are comments about you by other characters accurate? Biased? To answer, you have to study the script, not just brush through it for the story. Glean this information: age, looks, job, family, money, intelligence, education. Get as much character biography as you can from script. Try to stick with only the facts from the script.

3. Research the Character's World.

Research the character's world to determine where/when the events of the play occur (state, city, country, historical period). What is going on the fictitious world that the character inhabits? How do real world historical events affect the world of the script?

Research real history to give you a richer background and to see how external reality affects/invades the world of the play.

4. Determine Income Level.

Determine the income level ('class') of the character. Class level is generally determined by money and partly by education. This affects your character's biography. Close behind money and education come race and religion, which also greatly affect behavior.

5. Do More Research.

If the person is a serial killer, search for information on well-known serial killers. Substitute any word for "killer" and do the same: doctor, Indian chief, pizza man, CEO, college student.

 

Summary:

With the biographical information you get a portrait that looks just like you but has a different name and family and background and a unique way of looking at the world.

 

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35.   What's Next?

 

Forget about it. Why? Because you need the biography as a spring board to a better source of the character's "feelings."

You are jumping into the best source for character and feelings. The best path into the heart of the role: The word of the script.

Now study each sentence the character says. Find the word in the sentence that carries the most emotion. It's the word that must be heard and understood. It carries the picture, the image, the

1. Don’t act it..

Thought, and the feelings to the audience (whether on stage or screen). That (or occasionally "those") word/s evoke and carry your own forgotten feelings. You don't have to dig for feelings. The words do your digging for you.

Say each sentence aloud. Don't act it. Just say it. Over and over. Gradually your intuition will lead you to the emotion carrying word/s, even if you weren't able to pick it out immediately. Always keep the important word in your mind. Don't let another word take over. Say that sentence aloud over and over until it starts to "say itself," not sounding like an actor who has memorized a line.

Do not blast the key word. Just add a touch of energy. If you make it too big your sentence will sound false. Say the sentence aloud and listen to the words. Try to learn to listen inside your head as you speak the words aloud. Inside-your-head listening is very different from the way we usually listen to ourselves.

2. Relate to the Words.

Let the words carry the meaning. The meaning will evoke from within you the emotions and lead you to the correct reading of the line. You will sound real when you focus on the words themselves, rather than on your feelings or your character. Every word we speak carries with it emotions accumulated and associated with that word from the first time we heard it. Since many words have multiple meanings, chose one. Often it's best to select the possibility that carries the most interesting emotion.

Say the words. Wrap them around you. They are your lifeguards. Trust the words. Trust your ability to say them. Trust your intuition and intelligence to select the appropriate and most interesting emotion evoked by the words.

It may take anywhere from ten minutes to ten months before this concept begins to make sense. But focusing on the words takes a lot of pressure off an actor. Do not think character. Do not think "tap into feelings." Think words. Knock, knock, tap, tap. Who's there? Just us words - Your best friends!

 

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36.  Learning to Move With Ease

 

Acting in a particular role means that you have to move convincingly as the character you are portraying. So how does one achieve the look they are going for? A combination of factors can add to the ease of movement that an actor seeks to attain. Here are some good places to start:

Take a Movement/Dance Class

One thing that many actors have in common is some sort of dance or movement training. Some take ballet to help their balance and coordination as well as their poise. You need not enroll in a serious class however-taking nearly any type of dance or movement class will help you to move with a sense of ease.

One benefit that comes from taking some type of dance is the focus on the upper body. You will learn to use the head and arms in a graceful way, in addition to working on your posture. Dance can also help you learn the regal carriage required in many roles. In addition, it helps to both build and maintain muscle, so it can also be considered a supplement to your acting training.

Practice, Practice, Practice

With each repetition any movement you do will become easier and more natural. Once you have done it over and over again, you will have it in your "muscle memory." This means that you will no longer have to think about what you are doing when you are doing it. When you get to this point the blocking will seem effortless and staying in character will be simple.

Learn to Apply Direction

As the director watches you, he/she will most likely correct you if they see you doing things that seem to be wrong for your character. Learning to apply these corrections is not always as easy as it sounds. Being in touch with your body means that you are able to "feel" where you are off, and adjust accordingly. Try to make that connection between what the director is telling you and what is going on with your body. As you perfect your movements, they will automatically look like they are easier to do.

Watch Others

Sometimes you can be inspired by others who perform in a way that you admire. When you see someone who you enjoy watching-try to figure out what it is that you like so much about their movement. If you can actually verbalize what it is you are trying to achieve, you are one step closer toward reaching that goal.

Fine-tuning your skills by using some of the ideas above is a good way to get started in creating movement that appears natural for a particular character. Whether you use all of the techniques above or just start with one or two, you can begin adding more depth to your characters right away.

 

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37.  How to Get Work in Commercials

 

• Short answer: Beat out the competition. How? Right look. A certain indefinable quality they are looking for. Dress somewhat appropriately (no ripped jeans if you're up for a young professional).

• Do something just a tiny bit original…

“I once booked a commercial where I was to walk a dog in a park. Most of the audition (on camera) was ad lib. I took a long chained purse, dragged it on the floor and kept going at my purse/dog. I am positive it was the purse/dog that booked that commercial”. - actor

• The good news is that commercial agents are always looking for new faces. The even better news is that today you do not have to be beautiful or handsome to book most commercials. In fact the more "ordinary you are" the better. (Their euphemism is "real people.")

• With a few exceptions, the ad is about the product and they do not want the actors to be particularly memorable. So send in your most natural looking headshot (no glamour here, unless you are stunning). Read our articles on self-submission letters, envelopes, be sure the agent does commercials and do your mass mailing. Also follow up with a postcard.

• Working on commercials you can make a nice income. Some people make an average of £35,000 a year as extras on. And please do not think you are demeaning yourself, or selling out, if you do commercials. It's all acting. Many casting people send out a call for a particular actor they saw in a commercial. So a commercial may lead to a sit-com audition. A national commercial is a great step up the ladder, especially if you are the only person in the ad.

• Do not make the mistake of thinking that booking a commercial is a shoo-in. it could take a hundred tries before you book your first commercial. Yes, there are lots of "first refusals," a lot of "holds," and many "call backs" but it can still take dozens of auditions before the first booking!

 

You can imagine the delight in the middle of "Law & Order" of seeing yourself advertising Palmolive! So don't knock commercials. They pay well and the competition is keen and yes they really use trained actors for the most part.

 

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38.  What are Headshots and what is their Importance?

 

As the name suggest, a headshot is a photograph of a person's head. Usually taken by a professional photographer, a headshot is distributed to promote actors or actresses.

 

Traditionally, headshot is a Black & White picture of your face without any make-up on an 8X10 sized paper with your wardrobe measurements and resume printed on the back side. This will cost you around £600. Over the past few years, 3 /4 shots (from waist–up) have become popular along with colored headshots of top or side of the Actors faces.

 

Headshots are required when you are looking for work as an actor. If however, you are starting out and/or work as an extra, then you do not need to spend any money over a headshot. Moreover if some casting agent or Director asks you for a picture, just give them a 3X5 color photo. Nevertheless, if you are serious about making a career in movies either as an extra or a full-fledged actor, then you should definitely get an 8X10 professionally shot headshot in color or B&W.

 

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39.  So what makes headshots so important?

 

*   Actually, headshots are one of the most effective and important tool an actor has in order to get the first break of his/her acting career. Even established actors who have a position in a Casting director's office need to send their latest headshot photo along with an up to date resume. Headshot is a traditionally safe way of being able to decide an actor for a particular role based upon the actor's natural look and vital stats in a black and white format.

*   Now that we have established why head shots are important, we also need to understand what is most important about them. The most important thing about a headshot is that it gives the real picture of you. How you really look minus the make-up or adornments is what the casting director wants to see. This ensures that you are called only for those roles which suit your personality and increase your chances of getting good roles.

*   Most casting executives pay great attention to the headshot. The headshot is your first audition, of sorts. The casting guys will look at your eyes to see if they project confidence, intelligence, and personality. The style of the headshot usually is not a deciding factor about calling you for an audition or not. This aspect is usually determined by the script, and the roles available. Moreover, your resume plays an important role in your being called for an audition.

*   Usually the casting directors look for simple and clear photos. So just get a nice, clean headshot of yourself with a neutral background and you'll be fine.

 

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40. Acting Exercises -Text Exploration

 

The following are a list of games and exercises to help you get inside the work, creatively exploring the TEXT of your play, scene or monologue in as free a way as possible. As an actor you are looking for ways to make the language organic so that you are responding in the moment as "thought in action"…with a flexibility that shifts and changes as a result of both thought and feeling. You may find that your own process may demand a different ordering of the games. These exercises can be used for scene work and for monologues. A monologue is still part of a scene. Remember there is no "right way". Explore and find what works for you.

 

(What is a beat? Think of a beat as a moment when someone wins or loses in the script.) Note the "facts" so you can incorporate them into your rehearsal. When you are snuggled in bed, reread your scene. Begin to fill in your imagination the things you talk about that are not specific.

 

Reading Aloud

Read the text by yourself very slowly…..allowing images to emerge. Stay very relaxed and remind yourself you are under no pressure to "come up" with anything.

a) Now go through the TEXT again reading aloud, this time alternately emphasizing and exaggerating the sounds of the vowels, then the sounds of the consonants. You are working just to get the feel of the words in your mouth (to taste them) and the alternating sense of saying someone else's words. Again, you are not trying for any kind of result. Does your thought process differ with vowels stress verses consonants stress?

 

Slow Motion

Go through the TEXT…again as physically relaxed as possible and say the words in slow motion. Allow the flow of the TEXT to emerge and find the connection to the words as you speak. (Think slow motion, see in slow motion.) It is very important to take a lot time with the text at the very beginning. It is easy to rush through TEXT, in a desire to put it up and get it "right".

Once a scene is up it can be very useful to go through it in slow motion, making sure you are taking in everything.

Talking and Listening (Making the language your own) It is essential that you take a lot of time when first encountering a TEXT. Early on allow yourself to be available to the words and the material. (What do you know about this event or situation?)

a) Sit in a chair facing your partner. (Do not cross you legs or arms. Stay open to your impulses and those of your partner.) Look down at your script, take in a few lines of text off the page, then look up and say the lines to your partner as honestly as you can. Don't impose, interpret or try to manufacture any feelings. Don't go beyond your own sense of truth. It is important that your partner's head is out of his/her script - available to receive your line. This availability will give him the impulse to say his line. Bring yourself to the material. You know more than you know. It is easy to cheat.

Don’t try and "feel". Don't force; however, if a feeling comes up - a response- it is important that you don't "check" the impulse. Find the impulse to speak to you partner. As you work this way, you will soon find the impulse to move. Take it. Talking and listening is the basis of all good acting.

 

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41.  Auditions

 

These audition tips and guidelines comprise some thoughts on what helps to make an audition a less daunting proposition and how to stack the odds in favour of a successful outcome.

DON'T PANIC!

• The auditions are there to give you a chance to show the auditioning panel what you can do.

• Whilst auditions are inherently stressful for many people, the panel do not want you to panic they want you to do well. If you relax and enjoy it, so will the panel.

• You will not be "marked" or "scored" per se. The object of the auditions is to select the people who, in combination, will best be able to create a coherent, convincing and successful show.

• As well as the talents you present during the audition, a big consideration is your potential. How well you respond during the audition will also be noted.

• It is highly unlikely that your audition will be perfect but you CAN stack the odds in your favour!

 

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42.  Simply, do some preparation...

 

Content Find out what you are going to be asked to do. For the forthcoming auditions, everyone will need to perform a piece of dialogue. Additionally, those auditioning for singing roles will need to sing two pieces; for the singers there will also be a brief range check to see note how high and low you can sing effectively.

 

Dialogue You will be asked to speak one of the pieces of dialogue depending on the character for which you are auditioning.

 

Role Selection Do some research and see to which part you think you would be most suited. Going for certain parts will require you to prepare certain sections of dialogue. If you have no particular part in mind (and would like to be considered for anything that might be considered appropriate) then choose the piece appropriate to the most significant part that you would be happy playing (you might like to discuss this before planning your audition).

You MUST do some preparation (however good you deem yourself to be)!

 

Learn It...

Do not rely on reading it just before you go in (or worse, reading it "cold" at the audition). You will NOT be convincing. Ideally you should learn the words - it's always much more impressive to a panel because it shows that

• you have the ability to learn them, which is reassuring and

• That you have the dedication, which is encouraging.

Furthermore, make sure you know what the other characters say in response.

Keep it snappy and don't allow big gaps/silences. If you need to, then by all means keep the words "to hand" as an aide-memoire, but if you end up simply reading them out, you will not do yourself justice (the panel assumes you learned to read some time ago!). Word-perfect is nice, but its far more important that you are convincing. At the audition one of the panel will read-in the other parts as necessary.

 

Delivery...

There are no right and wrong ways to deliver the lines and you can do it how you like providing it's convincing. That said, I am far more interested on someone who auditions using their own voice rather than in any affected fashion^. I would prefer to be able to develop a character with someone rather than fight against a preconceived perception.

The one thing you absolutely must do is make yourself heard. In a show, you are telling a story - there is no point in wasting yours and the audiences time if they can't hear you. BE LOUD!

^ the single exception being the part of Richard Dauntless in this case I would like to hear first no accent and then an attempt at a Cornish/West Country accent.

 

Practising...

Make sure you practice the dialogue:

• OUT LOUD

• strongly and

• with someone else (several different people if possible so that you don't get used to the same response). Do this as many times as possible before you bring it to the audition.

 

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43.  Singing

 

• Think about what you are going to sing. And prepare it!

• You will be asked to sing the chorus line that you have learned in rehearsal so far from "Welcome Gentry". You'll find it in your chorus copies.

• Additionally you will need to sing something of your own choice. A minute or two will be enough. Choose something with which you are very, VERY familiar. It can be anything at all - from a hymn tune to a rugby song, from the Chilean national anthem to Freddie Mercury, something G&S or something Pink Floyd. Having said that, do give a passing thought to the word "appropriate"!

• Just bear in mind that your performance needs to be convincing.

• Think how you can make it entertaining. What can you do to engage the attention of the panel (without distracting from your singing, that is!!!!)? Make sure you learn whatever it is you plan to perform.

• You could, of course, use words/music but it will not do you many favours. Don't worry if it is not perfect, just "sell" it. It's better to get it 75% right with 100% delivery than vice versa! • Also don't worry if you're stopped mid-verse - it doesn't always take long to assess a singing voice - the panel may not need to hear all of your song. Don't assume that this is because it's bad.

• At some point we may do a range-check. Don't worry if this goes too high and/or too low for you - that's the whole point of it! Remember that your range is your own personal trait; everyone's is different - some are bigger than others but none are right or wrong. It is likely that everyone has a range suitable for at least one of the parts.

• You will be accompanied on the piano if you provide the sheet music. HOWEVER, don't bring some ridiculous concert-pianist-virtuoso accompaniment and expect it to be note perfect! (You are entitled to bring your own personal Vladimir Ashkenazy, of course...)

 

Format of the Auditions

The auditions will take about ten minutes. You can do your songs and dialogue in any order you like.

After you do the dialogue you might be asked to redo some bits in differing ways to assess versatility and how responsive you can be to direction.

Naturally, the panel reserve the right to amend this format as they see fit. We will try as far as possible to run to schedule, but...

 

Outcomes

The results of the auditions will be conveyed to all those who audition as soon as possible after the parts have been cast. This will hopefully be after the Tuesday recalls but this depends on the roles being successfully cast by this stage. Please make sure that the panel have your phone number!

 

Feedback

The auditioning panel will be happy to discuss your audition afterwards. Realistically this needs to be done before the panel forgets who you are (!) but not so soon that the panel is still reeling from the process.

 

Finally Remember, not everyone will get a part, but have a go, because you never know. If you are unsuccessful then do not be too upset. It is not an indication of any lack of talent, ability or suitability, but more that the panel thinks that (for this production) someone else is, for various reasons more suited to the part.

 

Summary

Prepare - Learn - Practice - Relax - Deliver - BE LOUD

Then Keep Your Fingers Crossed!!!

 

Very Final Hint

You cannot sing your best if you're feeling the affects from a night of alcohol...! If you must, then you must, but think moderation!

 

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44.  Showreels

 

• When thinking of trying out for that vital part, many people have decided to create a tape of their performance, as well as the obvious resume and picture.

• Rupert Grint originally made a tape of himself rapping, which eventually landed him the part of Ron Weasley in the first Harry Potter movie! Obviously, the tape caught the eye of the casting director, which basically made his dream of becoming Ron come true. And let's face it, we all want to catch the casting crew's attention.

• However, a tape really is not necessary. Sending a tape will not guarantee you a role, nor can you guarantee that it will even get watched. So therefore, try not to get too hopeful. A lot of people ask, 'Just what should I put on my tape? How long should it be?' etc, so here I am going to give you the answers.

• Before we go on, note that if you simply wish to become an extra, do not send a tape! You are wasting your time – extras are usually chosen by their location and photograph; a tape is not needed.

 

The Showreel

When an actor or presenter makes a recorded performance, this tape (though DVD format is commonly used nowadays) is called a showreel. Although the showreel is more common with television presenters, and is just as important as a CV with regards to presenting, some actors make a showreel too.

Therefore, if a casting director was to see their CV and picture, a tape or DVD would be an added bonus, as they can be seen there and then on screen. Even though it is not needed, in some cases it might help.

When a presenter makes a showreel, he or she has to do certain things such as walking and talking, interviewing, and something else, preferrably something which they want to do in future (ie children's presenting, the more serious newsreading, or QVC-style sales.) This is similar when it comes to acting.

 

The Setting

The setting for your tape need definitely not be professional. Simply find a nice, clear room in your house and do it there. If you opt for doing something outside - then watch for obscure scenery - eg flowers that appear to come out of your head or whatnot. Scroll down for information on Equipment and Editing.

 

What should be on the tape?

As previously mentioned, an actor needs to get together a little selection of monologues. If you like, you can film a short introduction, just telling the camera about yourself. Then perhaps go straight onto the acting. Usually if an actor or presenter makes a showreel, then this tape/DVD is duplicated and sent round along with CVs and pictures. However, if you are simply making the tape to send to one person (for example, the Harry Potter Casting Office) then you may want to base your agenda for the tape around Harry Potter itself.

For example, if you are making a tape to try and get the part of Luna Lovegood (harry potter), you may want to do something along these lines: (Note: this is just an idea. You do not have to go by this.)

1. Introduce yourself to the camera, giving a very brief description of yourself (ie your name, where you come from, 'this is my tape' etc).

2. Perform something from the books, such as a monologue by this character. If the role you want is that of a lesser character, then perhaps make something up that perhaps they would say. I have seen people do this and it seems to work very well.

3. Perhaps do another monologue from a play, or read something non-HP related. You could even do a song. It is basically up to you.

 

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45.   Audition tape Do's & Dont's

 

Just for the record, here are a couple of things NOT to do on your audition tape.

1. If you are doing an introduction, make it no more than a few seconds long. The reason why will be outlined in 'How long should it be?'

2. Just as you wouldn't dare do in your cover letter, DON'T go on and on about how you want the role because you want to meet the cast, or how you're the biggest HP fan in the world and deserve this role, etc etc. It does not sound professional, and they will just turn off. If you have reasons why you should get this role (decent sounding ones, that is) then stick to putting them in your cover letter.

3. DON'T pretend to be someone else when you do your tape. Just be yourself. In the real world of TV and film, if an actor or presenter puts on a false personality, then in times of panic, this 'mask' will easily slip. Not only that, but people can easily see through you, specifically casting directors. Just smile, be yourself and do it - it is a whole lot easier just being you. Trust me!

 

How long should it be?

Showreels should never be longer than four minutes. This is true, as casting directors have so much to do as it is without having to watch ten minutes of every person.

 

Remember – The first 30 seconds are the most vital!

This is usually in terms of presenting but it works the same way for actors. And if you want that role, you have to get their attention straight away!

 

What equipment should I use?

Many people opt for a professional showreel. This is usually done in a package at a professional studio, by qualified cameramen, and also edited by professionals. However, this usually costs £300 and over, and you have only two days to get everything right.

The truth is, you do not HAVE to have a professional showreel at all, ESPECIALLY if you are simply making a HP tape! If someone tells you that you'd get a better chance if you 'go pro', do not listen. In all honesty, the tape will be four minutes of you. Yes, YOU - The casting director is not bothered about seeing flashy editing techniques and perfected lighting. All they want to see is how well you can act.

 

In addition, if you make the tape at home, you can perfect it again and again!

If you, a friend or a family member owns a video camera, then this is fine – get them to film you! Providing that the picture is clear, it should be perfect. That is all you need!

 

Presenting your tape

If you can, try and keep a master copy of your tape, so that if you need it again, you can just make another copy. Make sure that your name and details are on the cover/main labels. Obviously, send your tape along with your CV/resume, photographs and a cover letter (also an SAE if you expect your package back). Post your tape in a padded envelope with the address printed clearly. If you can, send your package by Recorded Delivery so that you know when your package reaches its destination.

 

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46.  Public Speaking Tips: 10 Easy Ways to Prepare

 

• An introduction is the very first message an audience will hear when you have to speak in public.

• It can set the scene and make or break a presentation. It is frustrating so very few presenters use this powerful tool. Always request an MC or someone respected to introduce you. This provides instant credibility through third party endorsement.

• It is far better for someone else to talk about and endorse your fantastic achievements than yourself!

• The more senior, respected, experienced or higher ranked, the greater the credibility boost you will receive. As that well-known phrase goes, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. So do you leave this opportunity to chance? Or do you want to control every word the audience hears?

• It is always best to control the introduction and in particular, write your own introduction and importantly brief the person who will be introducing you.

• A well-written introduction you have prepared beforehand also allows you to move smoothly and unhesitatingly from the introduction to your opening.

 

Here are some public speaking tips and 10 Easy Ways to Prepare a Powerful Introduction when giving a speech for any occasion.

1. It Has To Make Sense. Your introduction must make sense and cover why you are speaking or have been chosen to speak. Read it out aloud to someone else prior to giving it to the introducer.

2. Keep It Simple. The best introductions are often the simplest.

3. Keep It Short. A short introduction will have the most impact. Remember the audience has come to hear you not the introducer. Bill Clinton has made famous his mistake in the US Congress where he took longer to introduce someone than the actual speech. Don't make this fatal mistake. A good introduction will take between 20 and 30 seconds to read out and be between 3 and 4 paragraphs in length.

4. Make An Impact. Good introductions make an impact. Ways to do this could be to start with a rhetorical question.

5. Include Personal Information. Include personal information to make a human connection with the audience. This helps build rapport and empathy.

6. Include The Quirky, Memorable or Unusual. This helps the audience relate to and remember you. It is also useful as a way of introducing humour or a foil or balance to all your great achievements. The unusual can also surprise and delight an audience. I use my past involvement in the unusual athletic pursuit of hammer throwing to help put a smile on the audiences faces.

7. Link To The Opening. Make sure you have a link in your introduction to segue seamlessly into your opening. Remember the introduction and your openings are NOT the same.

8. Have Large Font. Make sure the introducer can read the introduction. Keep the font as large as possible that will comfortably fit on 1-page.

9. Brief The Introducer. Always brief the introducer on pronunciations and any stage directions. It is especially important for them to shake your hand to give you confidence and energy and permission to connect with the audience.

10. Give Them Plenty Of Time To Prepare. Avoid handing the introduction to the MC at the last moment. Give them plenty of time to prepare and rehearse. Most are nervous and will want to do their best. Always avoid the credibility sapping experience of them saying ..."So and so has just handed me this and I'm just going to read it out." Don't laugh it has happened to me and nothing dampens your energy and enthusiasm as a presenter more than being introduced with that line.

 

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