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Why You Didn’t Get the Role

Photo by Jared Erondu

By Marci Liroff

You had a great audition. You killed it. The casting office “pinned” you (casting called your agent to let them know you’re one of our finalists and to let us know if you get another job offer that conflicts). Your hopes are up. You don’t hear anything for a while. Then you get “unpinned” and you didn’t get the role. You ask yourself, “Why? What did I do wrong? What does the other guy have that I don’t?”

I’m here to tell you not to do that to yourself. Don’t go down the rabbit hole on this issue. I had this very thing happen last week on the film I’m casting. We had a final two and then chose one of the actors. The actor who didn’t get the role had his agent email to ask why? My response was this: “Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason. When putting together a family we have to think of all the moving pieces (the wife, the kids) and the overall vibe for the family. Your guy was great. He did everything right. The actor we chose fit better with our existing family.”

In this business, and in life actually, there are so many elements out of your control.

You don’t look right with our lead, you look too much like the writer’s ex-wife, you’re too tall, too short – you get the picture. The one thing you are in control of is your perspective. You get to choose how you are going to feel about not getting the role. No one can take that from you.

Are you going to kick yourself time and time again after each audition because you didn’t do what you wanted to do? Or are you going to learn from it – specifically learn from what went wrong or what sent you off the rails. Are you going to continue to let that voice inside your head that says “I’m not right for this – I always screw up in comedy – I’m no good” or are you going to master that voice and banish it not only from the room, but your head forever. You have this choice.

If you stop thinking, “I’ve got to get this role,” and make it your mission to walk into every room being über prepared and do what you came there to do, you will succeed.

If you make a subtle shift of your mindset so that your goal isn’t to get the job, but to consistently come into every room, knock it out of the park, and build relationships for the future. You want casting directors to bring you back multiple times on all their projects because we know we can trust you.

Remember that we’ve considered thousands for the role, (check out my article Auditions Can Be a Numbers Game) narrowed it down to auditioning about 30 actors (sometime hundreds depending on the role), and if you were chosen as the final two you’ve already won. I know it may not feel that way, but that’s where your perspective comes in.

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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I’m Ready For My Close-Up

By Marci Liroff

I’m addicted to Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series. Some of the interview/interviewee pairings include Matthew McConaughey and Jeff Bridges, Viola Davis and Tom Hanks, Adam Driver and Michael Shannon, and Sally Field and Hailee Steinfeld (to name a few)

The episode that caught my eye recently was Hugh Grant and Colin Farrell.

They were discussing camera work. They both agreed that they felt they were never as good in their close-ups, which are usually shot at the end of the day, as they were in the wide shots, or when it’s the other actor’s close-up and they’re off-camera doing the scene. As Grant said, “Then I’m bloody marvelous! But then they say, ‘Turning around on you,’ and then there’s an hour to wait while they set everything up, and you get tight and tense.” Farrell agreed: “There’s a certain looseness, fluidity, sense of ease that I experience off-camera that instantly leaves my side once the camera turns around to my close-up.”

They never truly came to a resolution, but Farrell wondered if a certain amount of tension could be equated with awareness. Translated: It may help plug you into your character.

The anxiety surrounding the close-up also comes up in Rob Lowe’s first book, “Stories I Only Tell My Friends,” in which he recalls a harrowing experience on his first film, “The Outsiders.” The scene was a large action scene shot in the middle of the night. There were dozens of extras, a rain and wind machine, five cameras rolling, and the scene called for Lowe’s character to have an emotional breakdown with his brothers.

They shot the scene eight or nine times; the director, Francis Ford Coppola, felt like he got it, and Lowe felt pretty certain that he gave 100 percent.

Then Patrick Swayze, who plays his older brother, said, “Good job, buddy. I think it’s time to do your close-up.”

Lowe wrote, “I can feel my legs go to rubber and my pulse skyrocket,” and he started to panic. “None of the cameras were close-up?” Swayze answered, “Oh, no. They were all extremely wide. Now we’ll punch in and really get the emotion!”

He tried the scene several times and no tears. He had left it all on the ground in the wide shot. They called a 10-minute break.

Lowe crawled off the set and locked himself in his trailer. It was at this point that Howell sat Lowe down and told him a narrative. A hushed hypnotic story of their life together as orphaned brothers and how much he means to him. Lowe said it was the most giving, loving and generous thing one actor did for

Lowe left his trailer and went back to the set and nailed it.

I often wonder if, in your on-camera classes, they just focus on technique for auditions. Do they tell you what happens on set? If you’re on set and you have any questions, make sure to make friends with the 2nd assistant camera person. Ask them where they are framing you. Is it a master? A close-up? Two shot?

You’ve got to know where the camera is, what your blocking is, and which is a wide or close-up shot, then forget it. Forget it and lose yourself in your character.

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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Perfection is a Creativity Killer

Photo by Ricardo Viana

By Marci Liroff

These days we have casting sessions without the director or the producer in the room. You’ll be “going on tape for producer(s)/director” because often times they are on location or simply not available. What I’m noticing is that many actors are hung up on perfection. That nasty “P” word vexes their audition time and time again. They want to do it over and over again until they’ve reached what they think is perfection.

When I’m coaching actors I have some clients who just want the work session to be over and done with. “Is that good enough? Please, can we move on to the next scene?” They truly don’t like the process and just want it to stop. In stark contrast, I have a few clients who simply will not turn anything in unless it is perfect.

What is “perfect” anyway? Who is the judge of that?

You? Me? The casting director who receives it? The creative team who looks at your work and decides whether you’re going to get the role?

As an artist, you’ve got to be your own editor and judge. You’ve got to know in your gut whether your performance is truthful, organic, and spontaneous. It’s a delicate balance. In life, we don’t get to go over and over and replay each experience until we get it right (although some of us definitely keep choosing the same toxic people in our lives and keep playing the same scene out but with different characters.) But I’m talking about the actor who is concerned about how each line comes out, the accent on each word, how his hair looks, or what his hands were doing in the scene.

There are many pros and cons to self-taping. I’ve had many actors tell me that they feel like they’re in a vacuum and don’t know which choices are the right ones. The thing is, there is no “right” here. The right choice is the honest and true choice. Ask yourself, – Are you coming off as a real human being? Or are you making choices that are clichés of what you think this man would do. Are you getting deep down into his soul or are you just skimming the surface with your choices.

Human beings are flawed. Life is messy and complicated.

The performances that show us these traits are the ones that are more compelling to watch because the actor is letting us in to his psyche, not just revealing what he wants to show us – but what he doesn’t want to share. That’s what’s infinitely more interesting to watch than perfection. There is no such thing as perfection and those that are striving for it are not only kidding themselves, they’re shortchanging us and them.

In life, we don’t always know the answers to the questions – we’re searching, we’re discovering. The performances that show us this journey are the most fascinating ones to watch.

I’m not suggesting you turn in a self-tape that’s sloppy, where you don’t know your lines or your performance is half-assed. But please lean toward thinking of yourself as a fallible human being and your performance will automatically be more honest and captivating. The more you start embracing the dark and messy side of your soul, the more we’ll want to watch. It’s only human.

What are you doing to “keep it real?” I want to hear from you.

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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