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How To Make Auditioning Easier

Illustration by Nick Bertozzi

If you haven’t already signed up, my Audition Bootcamp in Los Angeles has a few spots left so grab yours and be ready for your upcoming auditions! Click here to apply.

By Marci Liroff

Have you ever received sides so marked up you can’t make heads or tails of where your lines are? You end up so confused, your audition becomes fraught with massive page-turns and unintended bad timing.

When I’m casting a project, my office picks the scenes in order to capture a range of emotional moments for the character. We run those choices by our director, and sometimes the producer and studio casting department as well. Because there may be several characters within the chosen sides, we edit out some of the extraneous lines (or characters) so that the scene has a better flow and highlights your role.

You may have noticed that some casting offices make this a seamless process by editing in the screenplay program Final Draft. You receive sides that are easy to read, where you don’t have to wade through a maze of words to find your lines.

Then there are the casting offices who just take a black Sharpie, cross out sections, and play “connect the arrows” with your lines. You end up hunting and pausing, trying to figure out where you come in.

I have a great fix for this: Go to your computer (or do it longhand) and rewrite the scene so all the blacked-out lines are gone from your page. Just write your parts and your scene partner’s; this way you will have no distractions and no built-in pauses that shouldn’t be there in the first place.

If something doesn’t make sense because we’ve edited out a pertinent bit of information, make sure you ask questions to clarify what you need to know.

Another thing I see actors do too often is pause for the scene description. Remember: The scene description sets the stage, and is for the reader and actor to take note of, but not to play. If the screenwriter writes, “Tom walks into a humid room, his dog following close by,” there’s no reason for you to pause before reading your next line. The same goes when you have a page break—there are no page breaks in a real conversation, so why bring that into the middle of your scene? String your lines together, whether there’s a page-turn or not.

You may wonder why we pick some of the most difficult audition scenes, such as scenes with action or blocking. We need to see how you’ll handle the emotional shifts when the story’s stakes are high. I suggest you ask, “How have you been blocking this scene?” rather than ask, “How do you want me to do this?” In my article “How to Handle a Physical Audition Scene,” I explain in detail how to navigate this often difficult situation.

There are so many things you can do to help yourself in an audition and on set. Be aware of pitfalls along the way and take care of yourself!

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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7 Things Actors Can Do Every Day to Succeed

Photo by: Carl Heyerdahl

By Marci Liroff

One of my Twitter followers is doing a 30-day acting challenge and asked me if I had any advice. Of course, it got me thinking about what actors can do on a daily basis to help themselves. Acting is like learning a musical instrument: You’ve got to practice every day.

Here’s a short list of what you can do Monday through Sunday to stay plugged in.

1. Check online sites for casting notices. Even if you have representation, you’ve got to remember that you are a team, and if you happen to notice that a project is casting and you know the showrunner or producer well, you should alert your agent or manager so they can follow up.

2. Go to the gym. Yes, you must keep your body in shape. Although it may seem like there’s a lot of waiting around on the set, you’ve got to have stamina and flexibility so you don’t hurt yourself. Exercise helps your mental health as well.

3. Learn a new scene or monologue every day.

Think of your brain as a muscle; you need to work it out and teach it new tricks every day so that it can grow.

Learning how to memorize lines on the fly is a must that everyone should have in their toolkit. I have a nice list of free screenplays on my site.

4. Check in with what’s going on in the business around you. Also on the resources page of my website is a list of sites and blogs you should read daily. If you’re going to work in this business, you have to know what’s going on outside of you, what shows have been picked up, and what the trends are.

5. Watch a few episodes of all the shows on TV. You might have noticed that you generally get an audition the night before you’re meant to be auditioning. You’re then tasked with learning all the dialogue and making specific and colorful character choices. Think of what a timesaver it would be if you’ve already seen the show and don’t have to do that research when you have only a few hours to prepare your scenes.

6. Watch old movies. Check out my list of iconic and important films. Many directors today don’t know how to help you on your scene. They know exactly where to put the camera but don’t speak “actor.” But they’re all film addicts, and they may give you a scene from a movie as a reference for what they’re looking for. You’ll benefit from being a walking, talking film library.

7. Get in an acting class. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I see many actors who aren’t in a weekly class. Think about it: How often do you actually get to get up there and act? If it’s just a few auditions a month, then you’re not keeping your instrument in tune.

What other things do you do daily that help you as an actor?

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 to Defeat Self-Doubt

Photo courtesy: Tertia Van Rensburg

By Marci Liroff

My Los Angeles Audition Bootcamp starts May 16, 23, 30th, 2017. Only a few spots left – sign up here!

I started casting a new film this week. In the days leading up to it, I got extremely anxious. It happens every time I start a project. The loop in my head goes something like this: “I have no idea how to cast this film. They’re all going to find out I have no idea what I’m doing.”

Can you imagine? I’ve been casting for almost four decades and I still have self-doubt.

Once I start the project, within the first morning, I realize I actually do know what I’m doing and I’m very good at it. As the ball starts rolling I immediately recognize the familiar day-to-day back and forth of the casting process.

Since I’m an independent casting director, I don’t keep an office. Like a gypsy, I move to a new space each time I start a project. Perhaps that’s part of the issue; I can’t picture where I’m going to work or who I’m going to work with. Once I get relaxed into my new surroundings, I can marinate on my casting ideas and they start flowing. Like riding a bike, it all comes back very quickly.

Then why the anxiety and self-doubt? I’ve taken great pains to analyze this to try and nip it in the bud. As a perfectionist, I find that that quality can actually work against me sometimes. There are such huge expectations on me when I’m in charge of a project. I’m so swept up in doing everything right that I forget the big picture.

Renowned acting teacher Howard Fine wrote this about self-doubt and insecurity in terms of the acting community. I think it’s a great lesson for us all: “Let me explain the positive benefits of self-doubt. Those who question their talent work harder. The doubt translates to a work ethic. The insecure actor will not take anything for granted. To those of you who feel insecure about your talents, it is your very sensitivity toward life and toward your fellow human beings that is a core part of your talent. You must seek to find balance. It is OK and natural to question your talent. Do not think that this disqualifies you from having a wonderful life and career. In fact, you share the trait with many whose work you admire.”

I agree with Fine on many of his points. What I’ve learned to embrace is that this feeling keeps me humble and keeps me on my toes. I don’t rest on my laurels. I’m constantly pushing myself to be better at my job.

As an actor, you’ve got to exude confidence in your work. Even if you don’t feel it inside, you can act “as if” and it will telegraph. I’ve often cited social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on this topic. Take a look at her video. It’s life-changing.

There’s nothing better than an actor who comes in to audition, who is comfortable in her own skin, and who’s there to “play”; it allows us to relax and feel like we’re in good hands. Confidence is sexy and it’s infectious.

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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