16 August 2021 - 12:34 BY Louw
My audition process
I will go through the lines and scene once or twice more in the morning, making sure the lines are stuck and I have the confidence to know I know them. In my own words, I will speak the subtext to refresh my mind on the subject matter. Driving to the audition, I will listen to something completely different, a podcast on health & fitness or history etc. I tend to overthink, and therefore I permit myself to open myself up to new stimuli for the day. Music can be a superpower sometimes, use it, sometimes it works and other times we can’t rely on just music but need deep thought and clarity. I will always arrive much earlier, 15-20 minutes earlier, to get used to the new/unfamiliar environment. I will sit in the car, go through my sides one more time. Sit back and do a relaxation exercise.
I step out of the car with confidence and excitement, I walk towards the building with confidence in the choices I made. I release myself of the pressure. Knowing I did the work and nothing can be done now, I sit and wait my turn. Co-actors will surround you, sometimes those auditioning for the exact same role. Now, again, know this – the director are not looking for a copy but a unique performance, an actor who can be themselves and someone he/she will be able to work with. It’s impossible that you think exactly the same about the scene, make the same “unique” choices and have the exact same response as any other actor. Accept the fact that we are all different. Be kind to your fellow actors. But be confident in the work you have put in. You are still there to claim your craft.
What do I do when I walk into an audition room? My name is called out, sometimes your just a number, literally a number stuck to your chest. I remind myself that this is MY moment. You only get this ONE opportunity, so use it. If I can urge you to think about only one thing as you walk into that audition room, it will be this - the producers and director really want you to be incredible; they are rooting for you and hoping you will be GREAT. They too, do not want to sit and wait forever for the perfect actor to play that role. So, take all the time you need. You can even ask to step away from your mark for 5 – 15 seconds after giving you your mark (the spot you will be standing or sitting to do the scene) to centre yourself. Feeling nervous means you take this seriously and want to be great. Centre yourself. Take a deep breath. Get your bottom-line in your mind. Turn back and stay in it... When they call action, if your line is the first line in the scene, take your time. Then, listen… find your tiggers, assimilate… respond.
Sometimes the director will, without complimenting you on your performance, ask to do it another way. This has happened to me most of the time – the note or direction they give is way different than how I saw the scene, not close to what the scene suggests and might not even make sense BUT… this is a directors trick, they want to see if you can take direction. So, listen carefully to the direction they give. Ask them to repeat or clarify if you don’t understand. You only have this one chance, being “considerate” while not really understanding their note, will not help you or them.
So, ask a question if you are still unclear on something. When they ask for a new direction this is your chance to ask any question you have. So, think in advance while you prep a question about the scene to clarify it even more. This is the perfect time to ask your question. You’re invested and you show you really thought about the scene.
Apply their direction and do the scene with this new direction, with as much confidence as possible. That is why you should never memorize your lines like a parrot so that you become mechanical and can’t change any line’s inflexions or tone. Be flexible with your lines and willing to layer your character’s objective. Even if it feels “wrong” doing it the way the director asked you to, don’t get pessimistic about your performance, there might be a clear reason for that – they only tested your ability to listen, incorporate their direction and execute it.
Let it go. Don’t get in your car or uber and think, “I should’ve done this…” OR “I should’ve done THAT…” You did all you can. You went to the battlefield. You went there being vulnerable, you opened yourself up. You made yourself available to be judged or get shot at, so now, you REWARD yourself. You gave them a performance and you can’t do anything about it now. It’s done. You get yourself a coffee, watch a film, take a hike etc because you just did something not a lot of people are willing to do… be vulnerable. Let it Go!
“The best education I’ve had in my life is to travel.” – Matthew McConaughey
Ref to A Practical Introduction To Film Acting: Lesson 3: How to Audition pt 2.
How did you find the technique/tool/advice? Did it work for you? What was different this time? Share with the tribe and let’s keep on creating beautiful, honest and memorable performances. Let’s execute our best selves!
Edwin van der Walt