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Let It Go

By Marci Liroff

I had a very unique experience a few weeks ago that I just have to share!

I am the Executive Producer and Casting Director of a pilot presentation entitled “Myrna”. “Myrna” follows the life of an actor who sacrifices everything as she makes the transition from male to female. So far, we have raised over $34,000 (with a record breaking achievement of matching our goal of $25k in the first 10 days!)

I had been involved with this project as we tried (and failed) to get it off the ground over the last couple of years. After many re-writes we had a great script, the timing was right, one of our producers positioned us just perfectly with the crowdfunding site “FanBacked” and finally we were in pre-production.

When I was first offered the project I told them that I would do it on one condition. I had to play the role of the casting director. The creator, Marlo Bernier said, “Are you kidding honey? I wrote it for you! You better play it!”

I clearly remember waking up on my shooting day with the “Christmas morning” feeling in my belly. I was so excited. I had learned all my lines with the help of a friend and The Rehearsal app (which by the way is brilliant for learning your lines!).

I came to set with no make-up on as requested along with a collection of a few outfits that the wardrobe designer asked for. This was the start of my giant leap of faith to trust and let go. You see, I usually never leave the house without at least some make-up on. At my age I see this as a benevolent gesture on my part toward mankind. I sat down in the make-up chair and the set photographer immediately started taking shots of me. Um, no. Not without make-up I pleaded. He respected my wishes and walked away.

I then proceeded to have a giant case of flop sweat. Think of the scene in Broadcast News when Albert Brooks was sweating right through his suit and drops of sweat were raining down on his news copy.

We were shooting in a TV production office on a Sunday and I probably reminded our producer Jennifer Fontaine about six times to make sure the air-conditioning was working properly that day. Control freak. She was so kind, she even came in at 6am to get it cooled down by the time I arrived. Nonetheless, my body decided to take over which resulted in the make-up lady fanning me with a giant manila file folder. A giant electric fan appeared from an angel production assistant and things started to get back on track.

That is, of course, until I was sent to get my hair done. I walked down a dimly lit hallway to a small storage room where our Emmy award-winning hair designer was working. I sat down in the chair and again found myself concentrating on letting go. No mirror. What?! I had no idea what he was going to do to my hair. I already had my hair done for the shoot so I can’t imagine why he was ratting, backcombing, and spraying copious amounts of hairspray. “You like big hair, don’t you?” I was terrified. I came out looking somewhat like my mother; which is not entirely a bad thing – just not my look. Everyone said I looked beautiful so I went with it.

I then went to set for camera blocking and to run my lines with the lead actor, Marlo Bernier. My scene illustrated how hard it is for Myrna who was widely known in the business as Michael, to get a job in her new incarnation. I was surprisingly not nervous. I was the opposite of nervous. As soon as I looked in Marlo’s eyes across the desk I felt oddly serene. I knew my lines, the scene worked well, and I was comforted by the personal touch the production designer, Warren Young, had left for me on my “desk” – his personal day planner. We shot the master, her close-up, my close-up and we were done before I knew what happened.

For a few hours I gave up being a control freak, leaned in, trusted, and let go.

I think I might try that again in real life!

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.

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How To Prep For The Fall TV Season

By Marci Liroff

If you’ve read my columns, you can probably tell I’m definitely a type A personality. I write a lot about doing research and diligent preparation for your upcoming auditions and jobs. In my article “How Keeping a Diary Can Help You Book the Job,” I talked about how noting your auditions and meetings in your diary–journal–Excel spreadsheet will help you keep track of all the folks you’ve met and see your career trajectory through the years in black and white.

Now that the fall TV season is upon us and it’s time to buckle down and start doing your research again. In order to get ahead of your competition, you need to see at least one or two episodes of every TV show that’s out there—including the new season.

When you get a last-minute audition, it would be smart to have already done your research on the show so that you can understand the world they’re creating, the tone of the show, and how you will fit into it. This way you can spend 100 percent of your time concentrating on the scenes you need to learn rather than catching up on episodes of the show.

I spoke to actor Jen Levin, who has a very precise way of doing her research.

“My process is to research like crazy! I print out the fall premiere dates (I almost always use TVLine). Then I see where I have room on my DVR to record those first few episodes of each new show. I also use Hulu to help out with watching all the new shows.

“When I’m watching a new show, I have a notebook or my iPad to take notes. I make notes on the major characters and their relationships to each other; what the tone of the show is like; the locations of the show (both the city and what sets seem to be used a lot); and finally, I use IMDb to make notes on the producers, directors, and casting directors. I keep those notes so if I get an audition for one of those new shows, I have a lot of my research already done. I also go through my contacts to see if I have met any of the team connected with the show. If I have, I typically send a little congrats note to them, saying how much I enjoyed their new show.

“I try to watch at least two episodes of each new show since many things can change from the pilot to the second episode. I just update my notes as I go along. And for any shows that become a part of my regular viewing, I’ll update those notes from time to time as well.

“I keep the notes on each show until the show is canceled. I’ve found these notes extremely helpful, especially when I have last-minute auditions. I think being prepared has helped me to stay calm at my auditions and focus on making the best impression that I can. This is a smart way for actors to prepare for the unknown. I’ve had same-day auditions where I’ve had an hour to get to the casting office. That isn’t enough time to Google a show and figure out the plot, characters, and tone.”

What about you? How do you research the new fall shows?

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.

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How To Replenish Your Self-Confidence

14842038610_eacf3cbe20_hphoto credit: IdeaLuz Photography

By Marci Liroff

I received this note from one of my followers on Facebook, who lives in a major hub of film and television production in North Carolina. “I was wondering if you have ever written any articles about children losing interest in acting, or confidence being lost from lack of or no work. My daughter (on her request) has been signed with an agent for almost three years now. I have spent the time and money to take her to countless auditions, acting lessons, singing lessons, and even traveled a few hours away just to have video auditions taped by professionals, but she has not landed a single job in all of this time. I have even tried to submit her for countless ‘extra’ parts and have never been contacted for any of them as well. Now when she gets a request for an audition, she lacks the motivation and confidence to do so, saying, ‘What’s the point? I am never going to get it.’ ”

The pursuit of getting an acting job on camera or onstage is a tough road for most adult actors, and young actors must have thick skin—with their heads and hearts in the right places—to survive. The one thing most actors have (the good ones, anyway!) is that they’re in it for the love of the craft. They simply have to act; they have to perform—it’s their lifeblood.

In my article “When Is The Right Time For Your Child To Become An Actor”, I examined the notion of making sure your child wants to act for the right reasons. Whenever I meet child actors I always ask how and why they got into acting. The ones who repeatedly begged their parents over the years to take acting classes, are in plays at school, and truly enjoy being a storyteller are the ones who make it. Thankfully, they’re not at a point yet where they have to earn a living. Let’s not forget this is supposed to be fun—especially for kids.

I would submit to the concerned mom that perhaps the end is not the means in this situation. What is her child looking for in terms of being an actor? So far she hasn’t landed any roles, even background roles.

All actors need to recognize the fact that being an actor is not just when you’re in front of a camera or onstage—it’s the entire journey.

From immersing yourself in acting-dancing-voice classes to getting your headshots taken, the preparation is actually part of the job. Yes, I recognize that actually landing a job is the cherry on top of the sundae, but it can’t be the main goal. You’ve got to appreciate the rest of the experience in total and can’t feel defeated just because you didn’t get the role.

I suggest this child learn to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate her acting classes and use them as an opportunity to express herself as an artist. On a practical level, what about local stage productions? Is she involved in school plays? How about registering with all the local colleges and universities that have film programs? They are always producing short films and need actors—especially kids.

Most important, it’s perfectly acceptable for this child to take a step back and stop auditioning for a while until she regains her confidence and rediscovers her motivation to pursue acting. There are so many local places that need child volunteers: animal shelters, reading to young children at schools or libraries, collecting clothes around the neighborhood to donate to Goodwill or other suitable organizations—the list is endless. I’ve found that being of service is a great way to take the focus off of you and replenish your creativity.

What do you do when you feel defeated and your journey feels futile?

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.

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Click to Tweet: You’ve got to find balance in life and acting “How To Replenish Your Self-Confidence” http://bit.ly/1qP4SYq via @MarciLiroff pls share
Click to Tweet: R you or your child frustrated with rejection? “How To Replenish Your Self-Confidence” http://bit.ly/1qP4SYq via @MarciLiroff pls r/t
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