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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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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On-Set Tips For Kids, Parents and Newbies Part II


By Marci Liroff

I recently spent a few weeks on the set of CBS’ “Extant” with my 10-year-old client. It was his first project of this scale after working in commercials and short films, and as I watched him, I observed a few important lessons being absorbed. In my July 8th blog, I wrote about on-set behavior; here are a few tips as they relate to performance.

Bring a bag of toys and books.
There can be a lot of downtime on a set—it could be hours sometimes. Your child needs to be occupied both mentally and physically. Don’t let him get bored while waiting to shoot his next scene because that could affect his concentration when he’s finally called to set. Bring his favorite toys, electronic devices, DVDs, books, and a football or softball to toss outside (if there’s room). Make sure you check with the assistant directors and the wardrobe supervisor before he plays wearing his costume!

Listen up!
When the director is talking, pay close attention. Although he or she may be giving direction to another actor, that direction may include you, and this way you’re always in the loop.

There’s so much to learn while you’re on set if you keep your eyes and ears open.

Continuity is crucial. The scenes my client did were very complicated. They shot lots of coverage with several different camera angles and setups; he probably did each scene 30 times and they had to be repeated exactly each time so they would match when the editor cut them together. My client had to learn the blocking (where you stand and when to move and say your line) and do it consistently each time or the scene wouldn’t cut together properly.

You must be completely off-book.
On the first day of work, my client’s first two scenes were one-on-one with the lead actor. They were very emotional and heavy on dialogue. The writer was taking out lines and adding new ones as we were shooting. If you don’t have your lines down cold, your head will explode from these lightning-fast changes!

Ask questions.
If the director gives your child a direction she doesn’t understand or for which she needs clarification, it’s completely acceptable for her to ask questions until she fully understands what is expected of her in the scene. Have her pick a quiet moment when the director isn’t giving instructions to the crew.

No, your other left.
The director, A.D., and camera team will be continuously giving stage directions so they can get you in focus and exactly where they need you to be in frame. It can feel tedious but once the project is completed you’ll be grateful you were able to understand their explicit directions. Learn stage directions; know your left from your right. When they say “camera left” it means what the camera sees—which would be your right.

Costume continuity.
Since you’re being covered from several different camera angles, your clothing, hair, and makeup need to be consistent. For example, once the wardrobe assistant sets your hat, collar, or hoodie in a certain way, be sure not to wiggle around and misplace the specific way they’ve arranged it on you. Kids need to be especially conscious of this.

What other handy tips can you add to this list?

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.

Like this article? Help spread the word!
Click to Tweet!: On-Set Tips For Kids, Parents and Newbies Part II via @marciliroff
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