We currently see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to this terrible pandemic. If you are interested in a career in acting, get vaccinated. Get vaccinated no matter what industry you’re in. That being said, let’s get on with some business talk.
I have several students who didn’t let the virus stop them from seeking work in our industry. Obeying all the guidelines expressed by the scientists, they pursued work. At first, they had little luck, but because they persisted, they began getting work. They continue to get work to this day. One actress is currently filming a feature.
Every one of us at one time or another will experience both sides of the win/lose coin. We will be winners and losers. The great salesman, Napoleon Hill, once said, “as a traveling salesman, in order to sell one item you had to knock on a hundred doors.” That meant ninety-nine failures out of a hundred tries. I believe any good salesperson will cut down the number of failures if they learn something new with each door that opens.
Let’s discuss several areas where we can cut down our possibilities of failure.
Today’s audition world has changed dramatically. In the past year auditioning was done generally from the actor’s home to the casting person’s home. This meant those acting had to find a new way to present himself/herself professionally using this new approach.
Our industry seems to have embraced the method of self-auditioning with much enthusiasm. It appears more than likely this method may be here to stay.
Let’s look at the best way to get representation. Google in your neighborhood or nearby big cities for Theatrical Agents and Management. Before you contact these people, you first need to get a headshot in 8×10.
One big mistake beginning those pursuing acting make is presuming to know what the industry is looking for. For the most part, they are wrong. First, they are not looking for glamour shots. They are looking for real people. They are looking for a picture that has some energy to it. This does not mean a busy picture with silly expressions. Does the person in the picture appear to be greeting you, or glad to see you? Can you see if the eyes hold a specific thought? For beginning actors, two pictures showing different sides of yourself, for example, one serious and one smiling picture, is a great way to show range as an actor.
Women especially need to watch their makeup. Do not have a professional makeup artist do your makeup. Apply your own makeup. I recommend an actress apply the same amount of makeup she would wear if she were going to dinner at a very nice restaurant. Men need only apply enough makeup to take away any shine. Men, if you have very light eyebrows, maybe a little brow pencil. When having your picture taken, look directly into the camera and have an unspoken conversation with the camera to get the energy you want to project in the picture. If you need more information, go to past articles by me in Pageantry magazine.
You should also have prepared a short, one-minute, monologue for submission. This monologue should show your strength as an actor. Again, as with your picture, they will want to see a real person, not someone who is acting! The more real your audition monologue, the more the casting director or agent can visualize you in varied roles. Present your audition monologue directly into the camera. The result will be the person watching your audition will believe you are talking to them. This is not true if you are doing a scene; in that case, talk directly to the person you are reading with.
1. Smartphone or Camera
2. Tripod – $30 to $60
3. Smartphone Video Rig – $20
4. Microphone – Mini Shotgun Mike, this microphone attaches easily to your cell phone – $60
5. Backdrop – The importance of a backdrop is to frame the actor, not upstage him/her, stiff frame and double-sided – $30 to $50
6. Lights – I suggest using a table lamp to begin with. When you want to get serious about lighting, YouTube and Google are great sources for information.
How to dress for your audition
Please, wear a solid color. Avoid prints and shirts with logos or writing on them. Allow the color of your clothes to be complementary to the backdrop. Again, we want the focus on the actor. Do not allow what you are wearing to upstage what you are doing.
The lighting should be such as to not throw shadows on the backdrop. It should appear as much like natural lighting as possible.
The camera should focus generally from the midsection to the top of the head. This will give the person holding the audition an idea of your physicality. It is important to note that real life is composed of many types. If this is true in life, then it is also true in casting. It is also true that exceptionally beautiful people have an edge when it comes to catching the eye of an agent or casting director. Notice I said exceptionally beautiful people. The industry is used to seeing thousands upon thousands of beautiful people. Interesting-looking people also catch their eyes. Do not exclude yourself because of how you look. The truth is, it always boils down to talent.
Before beginning your monologue, you need to slate. Slate means to say your name directly into the camera clearly and slowly. If you are submitting to an agency, add the following statement, “I am currently looking for representation.” If you are lucky enough to have representation, then add, “I am currently represented by The Blank Agency.”
As I said earlier, chose a monologue which will allow you to present a real person. A real person is someone very much like yourself, like your friends and family. I like a monologue where the character is telling a story or remembering a moment from the past. Advising someone else is also effective. Notice how simple the actions or objectives are in each example: to tell or share a story, to remember, to advise.
For those of you who have representation and are being submitted for parts, here are some hints for securing a callback; make sure the reader is alongside and close to the camera; do some test shots to judge if the voice’s balance is adequate to good; remind the reader it is your audition and to read with clarity, but not to feel the need to act.
You will have had the script for a period of time
This means the casting person expects to see a thoroughly rehearsed audition. Do not ever submit an audition which has not be worked on thoroughly. Casting directors especially have elephant memories, they never forget anything. I suggest you never concern yourself with being right. Be thorough, be specific, be committed 100% to your choices. The acting industry doesn’t always care if you are right, they only care how good you are.
As always, I wish you all great success in your acting career.