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How Not To Fall Off The Tightrope In An Audition

By Marci Liroff
Do you ever flub a line or get lost when you’re auditioning for a role?
 
Your palms get sticky, your throat gets dry, you start seeing black spots floating in front of your eyes and you suddenly can’t hear?! Fun…right?! Actually, no, it’s not fun at all! It’s a horrifying feeling when that happens and I’m going to tell you how to win over the room when this happens. Yes, you heard me….win them over.
 
Here’s what’s happening when you’re auditioning or performing live. I liken it to a tightrope walker. When the tightrope walker is up on the rope, the whole audience is rooting for them. They are on the edge of their seats with anticipation and are subconsciously praying for them to do well. When the tightrope walker missteps and loses her footing and almost plunges to the ground (or rather the net!), the entire audience gasps. But, when the tightrope walker gracefully and masterfully recovers and rights herself back on the rope the entire audience springs to their feet and applauds.
 
Likewise, when you’re in an audition and go up on your lines, it’s how you recover that can either make or break you. If you dissolve into a puddle on the floor with “I’m sorry’s” or “Can I please, please start over again?!”, or “Damn, I f*cked it up again!”, you’ve essentially just lost your audience. Yet, if you can gracefully dip down and check your sides (because in your preliminary auditions you’ll still be holding your sides and turning the pages along with your scene), find where you are, and look up and continue…..you’ve just won us over. It’s as if you’ve almost fallen off the rope, corrected your footing and gotten back onto the rope and pulled off your trick. We’ll follow you anywhere.
 
Another smart thing to do is if you’ve just started your scene and you feel you are way off-track from what you’d prepared – say, “I’m going to start again”…..compose yourself, and immediately start again. When you start saying “I’m sorry, can I please start over….please?!!” you’ve lost us because you’ve lost your power. Remember…this is your audition. Take charge, take control of the room. I don’t mean you should act obnoxious or needy or demanding. There’s a fine line between being charming and in control in an audition and being a diva. And please, don’t do this when you’re 2-3 pages into your scene!
We want you to succeed. How you behave in an audition is indicative of how you may be on set. A true pro wouldn’t fall apart because they forgot or screwed up a line. Hey we’re all human. ALL of us. It’s just a line, you didn’t run over my dog, it’s not the end of the world. But, how you handle it is everything. Everything.

 
 
Want more tips and general thoughts on life? Be sure to bookmark my blog and follow me here!
 
We welcome your comments and suggestions.
 
Glad you’re here!
Marci This article also appears on BackStage.com
 

How To Self-Tape Your Audition Like A Rockstar

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By Marci Liroff

As many projects are asking for you to self-tape your audition as a form of pre-screening, many of you have asked how to self-tape your auditions. For some, the mere idea of this can be daunting. I urge you to get comfortable with doing this. It’s not as hard as it may seem. If you think about it, you’re actually the actor, director, and producer of your own audition! You are finally in control of your audition!

Here are some instructions that you should follow.

Pay attention to ALL of the instructions that the CD or website gives you. If they tell you to do it a specific way, DO IT THAT WAY!

Know the material. Be as off-book as possible so that you can interact with your scene partner (who’s off-camera). Try to find a good reader – it’ll really help your audition. It’s ok to hold your sides, but we don’t want to see you literally reading off the page.

Check out my article “Self-Taping Using your iPhone” if you’re going to use your phone.

TECHNICAL STUFF

TRIPOD:
This is important! Make your audition as professional as possible by attaching your camera to a tripod. Nobody wants to watch an audition on a hand-held camera. If you don’t have access to a tripod (or can’t borrow one!), prop your camera on a table on top of some books so that it matches your eyeline (never shoot under your chin – that look isn’t good on anyone!)

Here’s a tripod adapter for your iPhone

LIGHTING:
The best thing is to use natural light. Make sure you’re not shooting TOWARDS a window or the light, but that the natural light is actually lighting YOU! If you don’t have natural light, then get some appropriate lighting. You can actually use lamps if you don’t have real lights. You can even use those wonderful large globe Chinese Lanterns (w/the white shades) – those throw a lot of nice soft light.
Go onto YouTube and search for “3 point lighting“.

You’ll get A LOT of videos how to do this. This will make your video look very professionally done and you can even do it on the cheap if you’re going to be doing this at home a lot. Go to Home Depot and get some “work lights”, and you can fashion a stand for them.
One of my Twitter followers just sent me a link to Cowboy Studio which has inexpensive lighting packages.

Make sure you “white balance” your camera before you start shooting. Many cameras these days have an auto-white balance. If yours doesn’t, check the instructions and figure out how to do it. In many cases, you can just hold up a white piece of paper about 5 inches in front of the lens and that’ll do the trick.

THE BASICS:

1. Find a quiet and well lit room.

2. Have the actor stand in front of a blank white, blue or grey painted wall. You can always use a plain sheet (no prints please).

3. Have someone other than the actor (the “reader) reading the supporting lines off camera. Do not attempt to do a scene by yourself unless it’s a monologue. Even then, have a friend operate your camera. Have your “reader” stand RIGHT NEXT TO the camera – almost hugging the tripod. EYE LINE! This is very important. So often the actor is reading to a partner that is SO far away from the camera, all we see is his profile. Make sure the actor looks at the reader during the scene and not directly at the camera.

4. You want to frame CHEST UP – not too much head room. Make sure we can see your face. You should stand about 3-5 ft. from the camera. Some projects ask for a full body shot as well to include before or after you do your scene.

5. Camera should be at eye level or just slightly above, NEVER underneath your chin.

6. Record a test sample first and see how it looks and sounds on the computer first to make final adjustments before taping the scenes.

7. When you are ready to record the scene, make sure the actor adds a verbal “slate” first by saying their name, the city they are from and role they are reading for. I also like to know how tall you are. Make sure that your slate is a SEPARATE take from your audition scenes. Don’t just roll from your slate right into the scene – that’s an amateur move. Some CDs request a slate on a piece of paper w/the pertinent info. Just make sure we can READ IT! Edit your slate and your audition together into one video file.

9. Record the scenes 2 or 3 times(or as many times as you need), pausing between takes so that you can pick the best one once youʼve had a chance to review them. Only include your best take.

10. Make sure your audition is labeled with all your contact info clearly on the clip – you can do this before and after – it never hurts to be sure. This is very important. We need to be able to reach you if we want to call you back or give you re-direction.

You can also self-tape from your webcam on your computer (a video camera is better, so ONLY do this if you have no other options). If you’re going to do it this way, I suggest you raise your laptop up a bit so that it’s not shooting “up” at you with an unflattering angle. You can also practice your upcoming auditions with your webcam and play them back so you can see what’s working and what’s not!

There you have it! Have I forgotten anything? Please let me know what works for you in the comments section.

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

 

Glad you’re here – Marci

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