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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

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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
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CONFIDENCE IS SEXY

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By Marci Liroff

Confidence is sexy. It makes us feel like we’re in good hands when actors come in obviously comfortable in their skin and effortlessly steer the audition to meet their needs. Confidence is not to be confused with cockiness, though. We can spot a diva a mile away.

I often talk to my students about how to “take the room.” If done correctly and with subtlety, you can have them eating out of your hand by the end of your audition.

Here are a few ways you can achieve this if done with confidence and good manners.

“I’m going to start over.”

If you’re in the beginning of your scene and you feel like you’re not in the zone or you’ve gone up on your lines, rather than say, “I’m so sorry! Can I please start over?! Damn, I screw up that line every time!” simply say, “I’m going to start over,” and do so. Don’t apologize, don’t kick yourself; gracefully show us that you’re still in control by actually taking control and starting over.

Know your frame.

Tell the cameraperson that you’re going to be getting up at a certain point within the scene. Ask the cameraperson how wide or tight they are on you so that you know how much you can move around. We can follow you; just make sure to cheat toward the camera—meaning, throw your looks and actions toward the camera so we can see your eyes and expressions. I don’t believe you need to be dead still or locked into a spot on the floor. It doesn’t make for the most interesting audition. Just make sure not to come toward the camera because we’ll lose you in the focus.

“Would you mind standing?”

If you are standing in a scene and your reader is sitting, your eyes will be cast down and all we’ll see is the top of your eyelids. That’s not a great look, and we want to see your eyes when we look back at the audition tape. Sometimes the reader gets tired by the end of the day or doesn’t know that if the actor is standing, so should she. Politely ask the reader to stand along with you. I teach my students to say something like this, “Would you mind standing with me? It’ll help my eye line for the camera.” This shows me that a) You are thinking, and b) You know your way around a camera and what looks good. Get comfortable with saying this so it comes out naturally and not demanding.

“Are you going to read this whole speech?”

I’ve had clients tell me that they were in the middle of their scene with the CD or reader who then skipped to the last line of their dialogue to speed things up. It totally threw the clients. Before the audition starts, ask if your reader will be doing the whole speech or dialogue—then you’ll know whether they are going to skip over it or not.

Whoever these CDs are who are skipping over large chunks of dialogue so that they can get to your lines are completely missing the point here.

For me, one of the key elements in an audition is whether an actor is listening. I love to see the look on the actor’s face as he’s understanding and reacting to what the other character is telling him. Tell them that you’d appreciate it if they read the whole speech, as it would help you within the scene.

I look at these ideas as “asking-telling” them what you need. It’s your five minutes. Use it well.

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: Learn how to ask/tell them what you need in your auditions in ‘Confidence is Sexy” via @marciliroff http://bit.ly/1oN49jR
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