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Trust Your Instincts

Note_CD_Nick_Bertozzi_0302.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!

Does the casting couch still exist? You bet. I was disheartened to read this post on Facebook from my agent friend Mimi Mayer of Angel City Talent.

“Anyone here have any of their ladies going in to see [redacted]? Cuz there’s some serious creepy going on right now. Warn your clients that they will be invited to meet the director at the Ritz-Carlton, and should they decline, will be shamed and insulted. Yes, I am naming names.”

I advised her to have her client write everything down while it’s fresh in her mind. Report it to SAG-AFTRA. She can do it anonymously if need be. Protect others.

Her client reported that the director called her cellphone directly (she never gave her number out) and wanted to meet her for a “private” meeting at the Ritz-Carlton later that evening, “just have a drink, relax and ‘talk about the role.’ ”

When she said that she wanted her manager to be involved, he said, “How long have you been in the business? Sometimes managers can lose a job for talent. You need to know that. And you need to lose 15 pounds and I wasn’t going to offer you the role anyway. I just wanted to give you some industry advice.”

I asked if she’d informed the casting director. “Yes, and he was a dick. Sketchy. I told him it was unacceptable, unprofessional, and harassment, and that I was contacting SAG-AFTRA, to which he replied, ‘Go right ahead,’ and hung up on me.”

She also posted about it on social media, on her personal accounts, and on the Agency/Management Facebook page to alert other reps about this situation and to protect their talent.

That’s when the calls and emails started coming in. “My agent colleague from another agency just called me and said he had a client with a similarly creepy experience with these guys,” Mayer says. “And yet another one of her clients went in earlier this week, said it was a little weird but nothing touchy-feely, yet they posted her picture on their Facebook page as being part of the project—no call, no offer. They’re idiots.”

I asked Mimi how she advises her clients. She says, “Always trust your instincts. They are your guardian angels. Do your homework on a project. This goes for the talent and the rep. Keep your team looped in. Our client did this and I feel that she dodged a bullet. Not all young talent will be so lucky, unfortunately.”

I wondered if this only happens to women. Mayer responded, “As unprepared for an inappropriate advance as a young woman might be, young men are more often even less prepared and can sometimes be more easily conned/shamed into doing something that they aren’t comfortable with. If parents aren’t able to teach their children about this, then it’s up to the reps to watch out for our talent. It’s not always easy. Speaking for myself, I know that Angel City does our best to send our clients into professional and safe environments. Our rate on this is very high—but clearly blemished by this experience.”

If something feels wrong, don’t get pressured into doing something if you don’t feel comfortable. I can guarantee you that that job won’t bring you fame and fortune.

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

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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Stop Saying No in Auditions

12.17.2015_Note_CD_Nick_Bertozzi.jpeg.644x650_q100Illustration By : Nick Bertozzi

By Marci Liroff

Megatalented television producer Shonda Rhimes just came out with a new book, “Year of Yes,” which chronicles the 12 months she spent agreeing to do anything and everything that scared her. It wasn’t just a “yes” to putting herself in harm’s way, like jumping out of an airplane. Most of us would say no to that. But she realized she wasn’t saying yes to much of anything, which meant she was avoiding new possibilities and opportunities. As she told NPR, “I was going to say yes to all the things that scared me, that made me nervous, that freaked me out, that made me think I’m going to look foolish doing it. Anything that took me out of my comfort zone, I was going to do it, if asked to do it.”

I realized this new habit of Rhimes’ could be embraced by many of the adult actors with whom I work. I reference specifically “adult” actors because most of the children with whom I work don’t seem to have the same fears about taking risks. Kids will do just about anything for you in an audition or on set because their egos haven’t developed enough to worry about looking stupid. They take chances and risks and play the clown because it’s fun. They say yes to any game you set forth because their imaginations are still limitless. As we get older, we start building that “wall” to protect ourselves from uncomfortable situations and start to say, “No, I’m not going to do that, I’ll look like an idiot.”

Along with saying no out of fear, you close yourself off to the opportunity to do great things. When actors audition for a role, many times I see them staying within the boundaries of the material but not taking any risks by making bold character choices. It’s as if they were told to color within the lines. But after a while, that gets really boring for your audience (and the actor, I imagine).

The performances that grab us are the ones where the actor is doing something unexpected—where you don’t know what they’ll do next and it can be surprising and scary in the same breath.

Take a look at Johnny Depp in the movie “Black Mass.” Yes, we all know Whitey Bulger is a bad guy, a criminal, a killer. But Depp plays him so quietly, so reservedly. I’ve heard actors worry that they aren’t doing enough; they should study what Depp is doing in his most explosive and terrifying scenes. He fully sits back into his character and says yes to who he is at heart. Depp told a reporter, “For me it was walking that tightrope between playing a very dangerous, unpredictable walking time bomb who could also be emotional and even sensitive.”

I’d so much rather have you come in and make the wrong choices than no choices. Take a stab at it and say yes. That, I can work with!

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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