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How To Handle A Physical Audition

Illustration by: Nick Bertozi

By Marci Liroff

In case you didn’t get an email announcing my next Audition Bootcamp classes in Los Angeles, here’s the link. I’d love to work with you.

AUDITION BOOTCAMP IN LOS ANGELES

This week I called upon my Twitter followers to ask for questions for my column.

I like to know what the community needs from me in terms of advice. Here are a couple of questions:

“So many times, I get an audition scene that has so much action in it, or it’s intimate and a kiss is called for. I never know how to play it. What should I do?”

Great question. My coaching clients always ask me the same thing. Sometimes it seems like we pick the most impossible scenes for your audition. Believe me, we’re not doing it to trip you up. We need to see what your character will do in all emotional (and physical) situations. We need to see your range.

Obviously, you can’t get in a brawl on the floor with the casting director (although I know some of you would probably like to!). But there are definitely ways to show that you’re slapping or getting slapped—you can react by pulling your head back and grabbing your cheek in shock. Imagine and create the hot sting of blood rushing toward your cheek. If done well, it’s very believable.

My best advice in this situation is not to ask what we want you to do, but rather ask, “How have you been blocking this scene?”

Remember, we’ve been auditioning this scene for the last several days, if not weeks. We know exactly how it should work in the audition setting. When I was casting “Vampire Academy,” we chose a scene where our lead character was having a fight training session. We needed to see her throw some punches, and when the romantic lead threw her to the floor and they were inches from each other’s faces, we cheated it by having her throw herself against the wall and imagine he was on top of her.

Another question I often get is this: “What’s the worst that can happen when we have a ‘bad’ audition? Never called back? Career over?” First of all, no, your career is certainly not over. But you must ask yourself why you had a bad audition. Trace the steps back to understand what sent you off the tracks. Nerves account for a lot of people blowing an audition. Many get nervous because they’re not thoroughly prepared. If you’re not completely off-book, you won’t be able to execute any of the direction you may receive. If you slugged back a double macchiato before your audition, your body might be careening with caffeine.

We can usually tell when you’re just having a bad day or you weren’t sufficiently prepared. If you come in and stink up the room because you weren’t prepared, it will be a while before I call you back for another audition.

The best thing you can do in this situation is learn from it, make the changes you need to, and then move on. If you hold on to that memory when you come into your next audition, it will overwhelm you with the fear that you’re going to make the same mistake. Learn and move on.

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.

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions. Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.)

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Your Audition’s Most Important Moment

Illustration by: Nick Bertozzi

By Marci Liroff

My word it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged! Sorry for that!

In case you didn’t get an email announcing my next Audition Bootcamp classes in Los Angeles, here’s the link. I’d love to work with you.

AUDITION BOOTCAMP

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Have you ever watched a few thousand auditions? Well, I have! People ask me how long it takes for me to know whether someone is right for the role or not. Because I’ve been a casting director for so long, I answer, “Usually a few seconds.”

Remember, I have a good instinct for this. I’ve been working with actors for almost four decades. Imagine that several of those in the decision-making process haven’t worked with actors for that length of time and they only know what they respond to. Add to that the fact that the internet has rewired our brains to have the attention span of a gnat. The internet is a fast-paced world, and we’ve become used to being stimulated at all times. If our brain isn’t stimulated, there are a million other places to click to receive what we need.

Our brains crave instant gratification. It’s like an addiction.

If you ever watched audition tapes with a filmmaker, network, or studio executive you’d be horrified. All that hard work you’ve put into your audition goes unnoticed, because they look at your audition for a few seconds and decide whether they want to continue viewing it. If you don’t grab their attention immediately at the top of the audition, they’ve clicked away. Simple as that. They’ve moved on to the next guy.

Because I’m in the room with actors throughout their audition, I can see that they warmed up in the second half of the scene. They actually got really good, authentic, and made distinct choices. But—and this is a big but—unless the creative team was in the room, no one saw it because the actor didn’t grab them at the beginning of the scene. You’ve got to be riveting in the first few seconds or no one will get to see how great you were at the end.

Take a look at the audition with Henry Thomas for “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.” I was fortunate enough to be on the casting team for this film. We were all behind the camera weeping. He grabbed our hearts from the moment he started the scene and didn’t let go until the end. He had a clear objective and didn’t waver. Notice how Thomas is “in it” from the word go?

Kids are great at accessing their imaginations. Their imaginations are huge because they still live in a world where play is acceptable. As an adult you’ve got to get back to the child within you where any self-conscious behavior is banished. Remember to get back to the world of “play” when you were a kid and connect to your vast imagination.

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.

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions. Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.)

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How Far Would You Go To Get Cast?

05.26.2016_Nick_Bertozzi_Note_CD.jpeg.644x650_q100Illustration by Nick Bertozzi

By Marci Liroff

If you’re in L.A. and haven’t RSVPd to my July Audition Bootcamp, take a moment and check it out. Only a few seats left!

What’s the wildest thing an actor has done to get the job?

Years ago, when I was working for Fenton-Feinberg Casting, I heard a knock at the door and stepped outside to find a lovely birdcage with a pigeon inside. I brought him inside and put the cage on my desk for further inspection. We found a manila envelope taped to the bottom with a photo of a woman and a note: “Please see me for Brenda Starr! I’m perfect. Attach this little piece of paper to my homing pigeon’s leg and he’ll fly home to me to give me your message. I hope you grant my wish!” No résumé, no contact info, no name on her photo. Yes, folks, yet another reason I keep haranguing you to make sure your contact info is everywhere!

We closed the doors to my office so the bird couldn’t fly away. My boss, Mike Fenton, carefully reached into the cage to grab the bird.

You could’ve cut the tension with a knife. It was as if we were performing surgery.

He got the bird and positioned him with his feet toward me so I could attach the little slip of paper to his leg with a rubber band. As soon as I touched him, he broke free from Mike’s grasp and started flapping like an Angry Bird all over my office. He managed to take down all of my posters and poop on everything. It was like a Marx Brothers sketch. We were laughing hysterically at this point. Hair askew, bird poop all over us, and a bird still on the loose. He finally landed on top of the curtain rod, panting and squawking.

We let the bird calm down—as much as a bird can calm down—and attempted another try. Mike gingerly grabbed him again, and because the poor bird was probably in shock by that time, I successfully managed to get the message on his little leg. We walked outside and launched him.

He flew off, never to be seen or heard from again. We never heard from the nameless actor. To this day, it still stands as the best stunt an actor has ever pulled. I admire her tenacity. Maybe she’ll read this and we can finally connect!

A colleague of mine told me this story about another actor who had a certain, ahem, agenda. “For a sex scene, a young actress came in wearing a mini–tube dress with no panties for a director-producer session. Awkward. It was all guys except for me—and they were less than gentlemanly. They asked her to do the scene again. Ultimately I had to step in to protect her—which they didn’t like. Not pretty.”

Another colleague of mine was an intern years ago in a casting office and a woman kept calling and calling, demanding an audition. “Jesus wants me to be in the Broadway musical you’re casting!” After numerous phone calls from the woman, the CD in charge of the show said, “OK, if Jesus can pay for you to fly to New York, you can come audition next Tuesday.” She did. And she booked the job in “The Color Purple.”

What’s your craziest audition story. How far did you go?

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.

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions.  Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.)

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