The amazing Richard Paris Wilson kindly took shots of my head in time for this years Spotlight renewal.
He is brilliant to work with, very quick and directs well. I could not recommend him more! Check out more of his work HERE http://richardpariswilson.com/ and let me know which shot you like best….
A few weeks ago I posted Part One which outlined my top five tips for approaching casting directors and how best to show yourself off in castings. However, in Part Two I thought I’d point out more of the basic and obvious things we can do which perhaps we don’t always bother with.
1. Do your make up and do it well. I don’t mean pile it on! I mean take the time to make up your face properly. If you are on camera, you are being recorded, and you are being recorded because they are going to watch it back later. Perhaps they will show the client and this will be the first impression they have of you. You do not want to look washed out, you do not want to appear tired or hungover and you do not want to appear anything less than your best (unless the part demands that of you). Even men should think about hiding those dark circles under their eyes and giving their skin a light covering of foundation. Making the most of your looks will only ever serve you well.
2. Assume the casting director has no imagination. Dress appropriately for the role, for instance, if you’re playing the role of an office worker, wear a shirt. Don’t go too over board, don’t dress in a wedding dress if you’re going for the role of the bride! However, perhaps wear a floaty white dress, do your hair well and make your make up natural. Going for the role of a hooker? Wear red lipstick and high heels. Going for the role a rock star? Wear skinny jeans! It’s basic, it’s simple and it does work. They see you walk in the door and they see the character in you therefore, they see you in the character. Don’t go and spend a load of money on clothes just for an audition though; but in the auditions where you can make this extra effort, do!
3. Have some questions ready. Think about your character, the story, your impressions and imagine yourself on set, playing the role. Ask appropriate and thoughtful questions which show your interest, enthusiasm and passion for the project and the role. It’s a smart way; a far less desperate and subtle way of standing out.
4. When auditioning alongside other actors, it is easy to let them throw you off. Also, when you have someone reading in, they often don’t give you much to bounce off of and that can throw you too. However, you have to prepare yourself mentally for this before you go into the audition so that you are ready for the worst case and still able perform at your best. When it comes to other actors, obviously you have to respond and react appropriately. However, in an audition you can afford to be a little selfish and give the performance you feel that they are after. Give a little but also be confident to take and shine through the actor alongside you. When it comes to an unhelpful reader, just…fuck it! Give it all you have, pretend in your head you are performing alongside the best actor you’ve ever worked with and give the performance that you would deliver on set.
5. Take the pressure off. Don’t tell yourself that each audition could change your life. Don’t allow for so much to ride on each thing. Just, tell yourself you simply have an audition. Do the best you can and the second you walk out, try to forget about it. The more you focus in on the detail and how much you need/want each role, the more pressured, the more stressed and the more frustrated you will become. Casting directors pick up on this too. This is a hard one because it is so easy to feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall and of course you are allowed your down days. However, try to find away to take it all in your stride and turn it around. It will be different for all of us, but think about what would work best for you and put it into practice.
Got any advice and thoughts of your own? Please share! And break a leg at your next casting.
I’m not claiming that I have all the answers or that I know exactly how to “nail” an audition! However, over the last year I have taken to being the “other side” of the camera and played the role of Casting Director on several occasions. I cannot stress enough how invaluable this experience is for a performer! Not only do you get to see things from entirely new perspective, you also get to watch all the “classic” audition mistakes which we all fall foul to from time to time. Sometimes to witness a mistake is the only way you really understand why it is wrong. You can also flip this too; sometimes to witness someone doing it right is the only way you understand why it works. So I’ve come up with my Top Five Tips which should give you the best chance possible no matter who the Casting Director is. Some of it may seem obvious, some of it you may practice and some of it you may think sounds crazy. However, I urge you to have a read of each point and be really honest with yourself about the way you approach your career.
- It all starts before you walk in the room. How many of you out there apply for work yourself and send out a generic email to everyone that kind of fits what “they” need across the board? Well stop. Keep your emails short and to the point but make sure it is 100% tailored towards the role you are applying for. This IS time consuming. This IS boring. This IS worth more than you know. Obviously the Casting Director knows you are always actively looking for work. However, they don’t want to feel like 1 in 100 and this email has been fired out over and over for all sorts of roles. You need to get yourself through the door so being interested in the project, the role and indicating that you’ve got passion and an extra “spark” can do you no harm.
- Stop being so desperate. This is possibly the hardest one because most actors are desperate. We want to work, we want to perform and we need to earn some money. However, desperation is like fear; you can smell it. Being over-the-top polite and overly smiley and overly, “Yes Sir, no Sir” is actually doing yourself a dis-service. Firstly, you are not being yourself therefore, the Casting Director doesn’t know what it would be like to have you on set and secondly, it looks as if you never work which instantly turns off anyone before they’ve even watched your performance. I’m not saying be cocky, but be cool, calm, collected and confident. If you believe in yourself and the Casting Director can see that, they start the process expecting the audition to go well and pay extra attention to your performance.
- Don’t be lazy. If you are sent the script and sides. Read them, learn your lines, know your character. Look at the context of your scenes and know the relationship your character has with the other characters in the scene. You don’t always get the script but you often get the sides and you should try to become as familiar as possible. There is no excuse in the eyes of the Casting Director.
- Enjoy the audition. Be at ease and relax. The more relaxed you are, the more the casting director gets to relax and enjoy your audition too.
- Post-audition – don’t chase. They won’t forget about you and you sending an email just to say, “thanks for the audition”, doesn’t really serve much of a purpose. Just believe they will come to you.
Still from my personal project, “Myra”. Short film soon to be released for your viewing…ahh!
As a fresh wave of graduates joins the flood of Actors already out there competing for roles, I can’t help but think back to last year when I graduated and joined the “real world”. One thing acting school does not (and probably cannot) prepare you for is just how tough it is day in, day out.
Most of us leave with our degrees in hand having trained in our art. We feel hopeful, excited and optimistic that we will be successful and make a career out of it. Most of us have been told how tough it is, warned of just how much competition there really is out there, heard the realities of the ongoing expenses that the business demands. Most of us “think” we are prepared for it. Being told something and experiencing it are incredibly different and no words can really prepare you for the emotions that go hand-in-hand with these harsh truths. None of us would even bother if we thought for one moment we couldn’t overcome all the trials and tribulations. All actors must have absolute belief that we are talented, we are what “they” are looking for and maybe, just maybe, we will get the part!
And I’m not saying that we won’t. But there are thousands and thousands of super talented actors sadly out of work growing frustrated and tired. So, I have put together a list of tips for any recent Grads who might feel a little lost now they are “out” and ultimately, on their own.
- Don’t wait for work to come to you. If you are lucky enough to have an agent – awesome. If you don’t, this is not as “terrible” as you are led to believe. You have hundreds of small theatres, pub theatres and studios willing to let young creatives take over the space and put on a night of theatre for little money or even a share of the ticket price. This can be done fairly cheaply and it’s a good opportunity to invite along industry folk who you want to work with. A perfect example of how successful this can be are Made From Scratch. A theatre company set up in 2009 by two graduates from Rose Bruford who has regularly showcased new writers, directors and actors around the capital. They started out small putting on Scratch Nights – a short play or a collection of short plays and monologues but two years later they are off to Edinburgh Festival with their first full length play.
- Don’t under estimate Social Media. Get out there; join forums, even the most unlikely of websites such as LinkedIn can connect you to hundreds of writers, directors and other actors all looking to collaborate. Working with people on fresh new material is incredibly exciting. Make sure that across the board you are saying the same thing about yourself, all your credits are up to date and your images/showreel are the same. You are a brand; it is part of your job to brand yourself across all forms of social media professionally and consistently. Twitter, Facebook, Ideastap as well as CastingCallPro and Spotlight all connect you to people just like you and tell you industry information!
- Know your Industry. Find out when that musical/TV series you are dying to star in is casting and independently of any agent you might have, write the Director or CD an email or a letter (yes letter!! Think how many emails they get…letters are quite novel!) and express what character you are interested in, enclose your CV and Headshot (and CONTACT info). It will probably produce little reward but…what if that one person reads it and wants to see you. You have nothing to lose so do it! Also as a side note: keep your emails/letters short and to the point. They do not have the time to read your life story. In addition, tailor each letter, express praise for something you know they recently worked on etc.
- Pay Attention and Know what’s going on. You don’t have endless funds but you can get some cracking deals on theatre tickets if you do your research! Go and SEE theatre, watch that independent film, read interviews, reviews, take an interest in those who are casting or about to start working on their next project. We have the internet, The Stage, countless journals and blogs. There is no excuse not to know what is going on.
- Never Stop Learning. Keep your training up; movement, voice, being present. I’m not saying we “forget” but under the pressure of an audition, if these things are no longer like second nature you may just “forget” to perform to your best. There are countless reputable companies offering cheap workshops for actors to get involved in and keep refining their skills. (Social Media sites regularly advertise these)
- Talk to each other. So you’ve heard about a casting of a play…do you know anyone you have worked with or went to school with that could play one of those roles?! Talk to them and send them the details… next time, they might just return the favour. Remember, we are all competing but that’s no reason not to let each other know about things and help each other out. Also as a side note: just because your friend is doing well, doesn’t mean you aren’t. You are on different paths and acting in a turbulent business. Be happy for your friends when they are doing well, they will find it much easier to be happy for you when your turn comes.
- Always Attend Castings. We have all been there when we have received instructions to attend an audition and we look at the breakdown and go…erm…this isn’t my casting. To be honest, that isn’t your job to decide. Do your best with the material you’ve been given, go there with confidence and give it your all. You never know, you may just surprise yourself…and the casting directors.
- Look after yourself. You are going to get stressed. You will have times of immense frustration. Make sure you sleep well, drink lots of water, moisturise your skin, maintain your hair/nails/figure. It sounds so silly but you have no idea when you will be hired, you need to make sure you are always ready to perform, ready to audition and ready to be seen. Keeping control of yourself (your brand) will make you feel more in control of your career. You don’t want the fact that you look shattered to be the reason you don’t get hired. Also, stress and frustration can easily spiral into depression if you lose sight of your goal and feel sorry for yourself for too long.
- Be Realistic and Stop to take Stock. Don’t get upset and frustrated because it hasn’t happened yet. Every achievement, no matter how small is still an achievement. It means you’ve got yourself out there, been proactive and hopefully helped your career. So many times we are thinking about that next show, or the audition we have coming up after closing night or “that’s a wrap” has been shouted we forget to give ourselves a small pat on the back. Of course focus on what is next; but also stop and take notice of what you’ve achieved. If you’ve had a whole day of sending out CVs/Headshots and researching what’s casting, you should still see that as a small achievement. So many actors sit back and wonder why people aren’t knocking on their door for work; at least you’ve been doing something.
- Remember; If you quit today then I guarantee you would have made it tomorrow. Keep with it for as long as your dream is alive. If you realise this career if not for you, that is one thing; but if you’re sat, reading this, unable to imagine a life without performing…remember that phrase. It will pick you up when times get tough.
All that is left to say is…Break a leg! Let me know your thoughts on this blog – you can find me on Twitter @k8hollowood and if you have any questions or queries, I’d love to hear from you.