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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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An Ode to Actors

Photo courtesy Ian Schneider

By Marci Liroff

I posted an inspirational tweet the other night on Twitter, Instagram, and my business Facebook page.

It got more reaction (and interaction) than anything I’ve ever posted.

The only other thing that came close was when Robin Williams died and I posted something about depression with a suicide hotline. And I didn’t even write it! I was quoting a former actor:

“Actors are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime. Every day, actors face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they’ll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every role, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life—the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because actors are willing to give their entire lives to a moment—to that line, that laugh, that gesture, or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Actors are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another’s heart.

In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be

And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.”

What’s the takeaway from this?
One: I have a large actor following. Two: People like to be honored for their hard work. And three: People like to be inspired. But I knew there was more. I went directly to the source, writer David Ackert.

When was this written?
I wrote this in 1998, almost 20 years ago. Since that time, it has taken on a life of its own. It has been quoted all over the internet, in numerous books and publications, and has been translated into several languages and repurposed for singers, dancers, musicians, and painters.

What prompted you to write this?
In 1998, I was madly in love with a woman who was not an actor. She couldn’t understand why I was dedicated to a profession that was so unstable. One day I’d be working on a TV series, the next day unemployed. It was scary for her that I had so little control over my financial security, and clear to her that I wasn’t about to change professions, so eventually she ended the relationship. I was devastated, and wrote the passage to remind myself and anyone else struggling through a similar hardship that an artist’s relationship to their art is a uniquely precious experience, and while it comes with many sacrifices, it is ultimately worth pursuing.

Why do you think this has resonated with so many?
I believe that artists have a wholly unusual experience of life. They are dedicated to a dream and will pursue it at any cost. Most people don’t know what it means to believe in an irrational idea that’s so powerful that it completely defines them. That’s why the artist’s journey is simultaneously blissful, heartbreaking, and deeply lonely. I think the quote resonates for artists because it reminds us that we share that same swirl of juxtaposing feelings. And it is my hope that the quote inspires artists to pursue their self-expression without apology or regret.

What work are you doing now?
I retired from the entertainment industry in 2009 when I discovered that I could create, perform, and produce original content in the business world. Once I learned how to broaden my definition of success, I gained access to opportunities that were much more attainable than Hollywood stardom. Now I channel my creativity on my own terms.

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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