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CONFIDENCE IS SEXY

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By Marci Liroff

Confidence is sexy. It makes us feel like we’re in good hands when actors come in obviously comfortable in their skin and effortlessly steer the audition to meet their needs. Confidence is not to be confused with cockiness, though. We can spot a diva a mile away.

I often talk to my students about how to “take the room.” If done correctly and with subtlety, you can have them eating out of your hand by the end of your audition.

Here are a few ways you can achieve this if done with confidence and good manners.

“I’m going to start over.”

If you’re in the beginning of your scene and you feel like you’re not in the zone or you’ve gone up on your lines, rather than say, “I’m so sorry! Can I please start over?! Damn, I screw up that line every time!” simply say, “I’m going to start over,” and do so. Don’t apologize, don’t kick yourself; gracefully show us that you’re still in control by actually taking control and starting over.

Know your frame.

Tell the cameraperson that you’re going to be getting up at a certain point within the scene. Ask the cameraperson how wide or tight they are on you so that you know how much you can move around. We can follow you; just make sure to cheat toward the camera—meaning, throw your looks and actions toward the camera so we can see your eyes and expressions. I don’t believe you need to be dead still or locked into a spot on the floor. It doesn’t make for the most interesting audition. Just make sure not to come toward the camera because we’ll lose you in the focus.

“Would you mind standing?”

If you are standing in a scene and your reader is sitting, your eyes will be cast down and all we’ll see is the top of your eyelids. That’s not a great look, and we want to see your eyes when we look back at the audition tape. Sometimes the reader gets tired by the end of the day or doesn’t know that if the actor is standing, so should she. Politely ask the reader to stand along with you. I teach my students to say something like this, “Would you mind standing with me? It’ll help my eye line for the camera.” This shows me that a) You are thinking, and b) You know your way around a camera and what looks good. Get comfortable with saying this so it comes out naturally and not demanding.

“Are you going to read this whole speech?”

I’ve had clients tell me that they were in the middle of their scene with the CD or reader who then skipped to the last line of their dialogue to speed things up. It totally threw the clients. Before the audition starts, ask if your reader will be doing the whole speech or dialogue—then you’ll know whether they are going to skip over it or not.

Whoever these CDs are who are skipping over large chunks of dialogue so that they can get to your lines are completely missing the point here.

For me, one of the key elements in an audition is whether an actor is listening. I love to see the look on the actor’s face as he’s understanding and reacting to what the other character is telling him. Tell them that you’d appreciate it if they read the whole speech, as it would help you within the scene.

I look at these ideas as “asking-telling” them what you need. It’s your five minutes. Use it well.

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.

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9 On-Set Tips for Kids, Parents and Newbies

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By Marci Liroff

Having just spent the last couple of weeks coaching my 10-year-old client on the set of the new CBS series “Extant,” I got a bird’s-eye view of the issues that kids face when working on set for the first time. My client had only shot short films, music videos, and commercials and was somewhat new to a project of this scale. There was so much to learn!

These tips are great for young actors (and their parents) just starting out.

Shhhh! Keep your voice down!
Kids get very excited on set and like to tell stories in a loud voice. It’s hard with all that kid energy! Remind your child that even though it looks like lots of fun, everyone around him is working intently and needs quiet to concentrate. You will always hear the first A.D. (assistant director) yelling, “Quiet on set!” Be aware of your surroundings, as there will constantly be heavy equipment being moved near you and you could get hurt.

Where are you?
Let the second A.D. and/or welfare worker know where you are. Even if you’re just going to “crafty” (the craft service table), check in and let the A.D. know where you’re going at all times.

Be respectful and polite with crew members.
The phrases “thank you,” “please,” and “excuse me” go a long way with the adults your child is working with. Be polite and make friends with the crew because you will see them again on other sets and you want them to remember you fondly and professionally.

No playing on set.
No playing on “hot” sets because they are prepped for a scene and things should not be moved or tampered with. Plus, some things (ladders, walls, windows) are not “real” or fully secured. Even though that couch looks comfy, you shouldn’t sit on set furniture.

Learn how to read a call sheet.
I taught my client (along with his mother) how to read a call sheet and now they know exactly what is expected of them each day and the coming day. Start focusing on scene numbers rather than page numbers from now on.

You said what about the lead actor?!

Please remember, you’re wearing a mic! Be careful what you say on and off set, because the sound department and everybody else who has earphones on can hear your every word!

Careful where you sit.
If it has someone else’s name on it, don’t sit in the chair. You’ll be very embarrassed when the executive producer asks you to get out of her chair. Only sit on chairs marked “cast,” or, if you’re higher up the food chain, with your name.

Who’s got the kid?
Kids can’t just walk off by themselves while on set. Minors must be with an adult at all times while on a film set, whether it’s their guardian, welfare worker–teacher, or sometimes the A.D. or wardrobe person.

Leave your entourage at home.
Would you bring your friends to your place of work? Probably not. Don’t bring family or friends to the set either.

These are but a few of the things I observed during my time on the set; I’ll be writing about more in my next blog.

What other handy tips can you add to this list?

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.

Like this article? Help spread the word!
Click to Tweet: 9 On-Set Tips For Kids, Parents and Newbies via @MarciLiroff http://bit.ly/1r6QJ4T
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ARE YOU FRYING YOUR JOB PROSPECTS?

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By Marci Liroff

There’s an epidemic going on and I had no idea it actually had a name. The culprit is “vocal fry.” Not only is it annoying but it’s ruining your chances of getting hired—not just as an actor, but for any job.

Vocal fry is the result of pushing the end of words and sentences into the lowest register, where the vocal folds in the throat vibrate irregularly and allow air to slip through. The result is a low, sizzling rattle underneath. (Kim Kardashian is the queen of vocal fry, but now that I’ve pointed it out you’ll probably hear it everywhere.) For a great example, look up actor and national public radio host Faith Salie’s vocal fry video on YouTube.

Sociologists say women and girls pick up this bizarre vocal pattern because it makes them feel like part of a macroculture.

Recent studies have documented its growing popularity among educated and successful young women in the United States, but this learned behavior might be frying their job prospects. According to researcher Ikuko Yuasa, vocal fry may be the result of young women striving to reach the male register by imbuing their speech with gravitas.

Not only is it irritating to listen to, but you may be permanently ruining your vocal chords. As an actor, your voice is gold and it must be protected at all costs. YouTube star Abby Normal reports in her video: “This sort of vocalization can cause more harm to your throat because your vocal chords aren’t smoothly rubbing together; they’re more clapping…it’s like whispering. Instead of a nice, even flow, you’re creating more friction on your vocal chords.”

And there’s another vocalization that, while not harmful to your voice, is harmful to how people perceive you: “Uptalking,” also picked up from friends, is a way of ending your sentences with a vocal inflection that turns up at the end like a question. I tell my coaching clients and those who are auditioning for me that uptalk results in the listener not taking them or their content seriously. I vocally show them through mimicry the importance of ending their sentences definitively, rather than sounding as if they want to communicate a point without being too decisive or potentially ruffling feathers. Uptalk is very passive-aggressive and it isn’t helping anyone in an audition, a business setting, or a personal setting, for that matter.

This passive-aggressive tone is said to have origins in California “Valley Girl” culture, but D.C.-based vocal coach and speech pathologist Susan Miller says the uncertain, youthful tone has moved across states and genders—despite the assumption that women are the prime culprits. “I would say that the majority of employers come to me because people sound young,” says the coach, who trains employees to sound more professional. “And it’s the uptalk, the uncertainty, more than fry.

“Voice is important to show authority, to show that you’re confident and you know your subject matter,” Miller adds. “It can be the deciding factor between getting a call for a second interview or being passed over for someone else.”

Linguist Robin Lakoff drew attention to the pattern in her book Language and Women’s Place, which argued that women were socialized to talk in ways that lacked power, authority, and confidence. Rising intonation on declarative sentences was one of the features Lakoff included in her description of ‘women’s language,’ a gendered speech style which in her view both reflected and reproduced its users’ subordinate social status.

Take a moment and listen to your vocal patterns by recording yourself having a casual conversation with a friend. Are you guilty? If so, stop it! Ask your friends, coach, or acting teacher to call you on it so you can be stronger in your auditions.

Do you know people who do this? If so, send them this article and help them become more conscious of these vocalization patterns.

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”.

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