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THIS ADVICE WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE

By Marci Liroff
I want you to re-frame the way you’ve been thinking about meetings and auditions.
 
I’ve been reading a lot of comments to my articles and blogs using the phrase “the other side of the table” when referring to the Casting Director or the other people you’re auditioning for. 
 
Stop it! Here’s the new thinking: What if you thought of the whole auditioning process as a collaboration between filmmakers? What if you included yourself in that group? After all, you are one of the filmmakers too. We desperately need you in this process.
 
When I’m casting my projects, teaching my classes, and coaching actors I wake up and have that Christmas-morning feeling in my stomach—the happy feeling filled with anticipation. I get so excited to work with wonderful actors and filmmakers. 
 
Websters dictionary defines EXCITEMENT as:
Noun
  1. A feeling of great enthusiasm and eagerness.
  2. Something that arouses such a feeling; an exciting incident.
It occurred to me—that is exactly the feeling you should have when you come in to audition. Think about it. As an actor, how often do you actually get to act? Probably not as often as you would like. What if you thought of your audition as an opportunity to show us your stuff? What if you woke up on the day you had an audition and thought, “Yay! I get to act today and show them what I’ve been studying, prepping, and researching. I get to come in and play with the other filmmakers. I get to help them solve their problem. I get to be of service to the project and bring in my own special and very specific piece of the puzzle that they’re tirelessly putting together.”
 
You’ve got to stop this deadly “me against them” loop that’s going on in your head. Delete the word “gatekeepers” from your brain and anything else that you think is standing in your way. Replace it with this mantra: “I am a filmmaker! I am a collaborator!” We are all working together to bring the project to fruition.
 
When you’re truly prepared for your audition—you know the character and you’ve prepped and researched properly—you should feel like you can’t wait to get into the audition room. You should be excited to engage as a participant, as one of the filmmakers. After casting for the last century or so, I’ve come to realize that SO much of it is in your head. Once the preparation has been done, it’s all about perspective—and this is the good news. YOU are in control of how you view the audition process. It’s all up to you. 
 
Now go out there and remember that we’re all in this together.
 
I’d love to hear how this article made you feel.  It’s always good to share with the community. Leave a comment, share this blog with a friend.

Glad you’re here!  
 
Marci

 

EMBRACE YOUR BEAUTIFUL YOU

By Marci Liroff
A follower of mine on Twitter sent this email to me.
“As a casting director, how much of the decision on casting a role is based on looks? I don’t mean how the character is supposed to look, I mean in terms of beauty. It’s just something that’s always held me back. I don’t feel like I look the same as everyone else, because I have a few unique features that I’m not ashamed to say I’m proud of, i.e., dark red hair that can either look like fire in the sun or deep brown in the shade—and pale freckles. But having grown up being bullied I feel like all those traits are against me. I’m afraid that if I ever get my chance in a casting room, and hopefully my acting skills get me to a callback, it’d be my looks that stop me from getting the role. I was wondering if there was a certain look that’s popular at the moment. Does it help to have no freckles, and tanned skin, [and] brown hair? If so, would that affect things in an audition?”
First of all, I want to thank you for sharing this with me and being so candid. Of course, I had to reply.
No, there isn’t a certain look that’s popular at the moment. Sure, we’re looking for people who are “screen worthy”—but as you can see when you watch film and television, they come in all shapes and sizes. Take a look at Merritt Wever on “Nurse Jackie”—an amazingly funny character actor who’s also great with drama (check her out in “Michael Clayton” with George Clooney). I could continue to name hundres of actors who are not what you’d think are “beautiful” and have huge and thriving careers. Look at Bryan Cranston from “Breaking Bad”—not a traditionally handsome man, but I can’t take my eyes off him because he’s so compelling to watch.
I’m so sorry that you were bullied when you were younger. I think it’s great you’re attempting to turn it around, and I love the way you describe your attributes. But you’ve got to carry that thought through (in the acting world) and “own” it and wear it proud—just like you’ve described yourself to me. It’s those features that make you unique and not like anyone else. 
Unique is what we want. There are a lot of “traditionally” beautiful people out there, and frankly, after a while, that becomes boring to watch. As viewers we crave people we can relate to, whom we can live through vicariously.
It’s interesting to me that the words you use to describe yourself are filled with such pride and so beautiful—yet you think that these things are holding you back in the acting world and seem somewhat ashamed of these attributes. If you truly embrace them, you’ll go far.
  
I’d love to hear your stories about your experiences with your look and how this article made you feel.  It’s always good to share with the community.
Glad you’re here!

  Marci

P.S. You can also read this article on Back Stage Magazine here.

SELF-TAPING YOUR AUDITION USING YOUR iPHONE

By Marci Liroff
Having just worked on a feature film where we were asking for actors to send in their self-taped auditions from around the world, I realized that actors are becoming more empowered and self-sufficient by learning how to tape their auditions. But do yourself a favor and make sure you do it well – taping your audition on your laptop should be a last resort. Make sure to show yourself at your best. Lighting, sound, good quality video and a talented reader will help make your audition as great as it should be.
Some are still stymied by the process and our guest bloggers Tara Tomicevic and Leslie-Ann Huff are here to explain an easy and very inexpensive “work around” using your iPhone. Yes, your iPhone!
When we started noticing how often self-taped auditions are requested (a friend booked a pilot through a self-tape this year!), we figured there had to be a way to get it done that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. We discovered that there is!
Taking matters into our own hands, we started meeting twice a week, practicing and playing around with equipment. Since we weren’t working on an actual audition (yet), this gave us some room to try things, both technically and with our acting. Then, when it came time to send one in, we knew what we were doing.
The following tips are meant to add to Marci’s blog entry How To Self-Tape Your Audition Like A Rockstar, which already covers all the important basics. Hopefully these tips will help to make it even easier.
JUST USE YOUR PHONE:
The camera on the iPhone 4 or iPhone 5 records considerably high-quality video. No fancy, expensive cameras necessary.
YOUR TRIPOD CAN WORK:
Just as Marci pointed out, the tripod is very important to a professional audition tape. To hold up your iPhone on a tripod, you can purchase an inexpensive iPhone mount, like the one we used: Studio Neat Glif Tripod Mount. If you don’t have one, these little guys are a great option to explore. Here’s another one I just found that looks sturdy and is inexpensive. (this is Marci!)
SOUND IS CRUCIAL:
A directional mic can be hooked into the iPhone via the headphones hole. Theonewe purchased was about $40. This kind of mic cut out the white noise and clearly picked up the actors voice. The difference was very clear: good sound helps pick up all the nuances of an actors performance and gives the tape a more professional feel. A side note on sound: the reader’s voice should not be louder than the actor’s. This tends to happen as the reader stands next to the camera. A directional mic and a mindful reader can help with that. If you still experience some background noise, it can be eliminated in five seconds on iMovie or similar basic programs (YouTube tutorials rock!)
UPDATE: A few of my readers commented that the mic that was suggested (above) is no longer available. I reached out to Tara and asked for any new recommendations. Here’s her response:

The Belkin one we originally suggested is only one we have used repeatedly. I just found some through non-Amazon retailers and eBay (which of course I have no personal experience with and cannot officially recommend):
A friend of mine has a great one called the Tascam iM2 mic for iPhone (http://tascam.com/product/im2/). It is about $80 but if you look around online you can often find them reduced to $30-$40.
Leslie-Anne also added that she recently bought an iPhone 5 and the quality of the sound is comparable to using the directional mic for the iPhone 4 (what we were doing before). Hope this helps!
LIGHTING:
We are lucky that one of our apartments has a spot lit by two windows, which provides great natural light. Find the spots in your home that face windows. Use blinds and curtains to increase or decrease the amount of direct light. Try using the different lamps in your home. Experiment. Much to our surprise, we noticed that a fluorescent kitchen light actually enhanced the look of the natural light. Be resourceful and use your judgement. If you have a dark place or have to shoot at night, Marci’s lighting suggestions in her original post are spot on.
TRANSFERRING FOOTAGE:
To get your video (regardless of its length) from your phone to your computer, connect the two via a USB cable. If you’re on a Mac, open the app Preview. Then click File, Import from iPhone, and all your iPhone files will be listed. Select your video and click Import.
IF YOU NEED TO EDIT:
We recommend stopping after each take so that you can select the take you want and send that one only without having to edit at all. But if you need to edit we learned iMovie quickly and on our own (again, YouTube tutorials!)
COST COMPARISON:
We paid about $60 (in addition to the price of our phones) to get this system working. We’ve seen companies around town charge $25-$100+ per self-tape. So invest in yourself and a couple self-tapes in you’ll be happy you did (and feel extra savvy too)!
Here’s a video sample:
If anyone has any questions, feel free to reach out. We are both on Twitter: @TaraTomicevic and @Leslie_AnneHuff.
Tara Tomicevic is an actress, writer, and producer. She is Croatian born, Italian raised, and Berkeley branded.
Leslie-Anne Huff is an actress, Los Angeles native, and lover of pugs. Credits and more info can be found on her website: http://leslie-annehuff.com
I’d love to hear about any hot tips you’ve discovered while self-taping your auditions. It’s always good to share with the community.

Glad you’re here!

Marci

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