Auditioning techniques for relaxing the interviewee at

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Old August 17th, 2005, 04:46 PM   #1
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Auditioning techniques for relaxing the interviewee

What do you do with nervous actors? How much time do you spend calming them down? How much time do you spend on auditioning each person? Is there anything that you should especially avoid doing?
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Old August 17th, 2005, 06:09 PM   #2
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Welll..... It's an 'audition' not an 'acting class'. Having said that, I always spend a moment or two chatting with them, asking how the drive in was, where they were comming from... small talk while we get them in place. Then it depends on the format of the audition. Have they had the sides for a while, in advance? Or is it pretty much a cold read?

I like to explain simply what we hope to achieve with the audition round, but NOT what I want out of the read. I explain where the sight line should be, and introduce the person who might be reading the other side. (If it's not a monologue). I make sure they understand where the scene starts. If there is some blocking or prop movement, I might take a moment to give very simple basic instruction, but usually that's not necessary.

Then I take a moment to get a mic level, usually I ask them to "Slate" it. This is a small test, to see if they have a little experience with the formalities of film. If not, no big deal I ask them to give their name and contact information, (this might be their agency contact). Then I roll tape, and give them their cue.

After the first take, I might ask for another with a minor change. Faster, slower, louder, softer, etc. THe point here, even if I LOVED the first take, is to see how they take directions. Here is where I might give character insights, and ask for how they saw the character. It's an audition for their interpersonal skills at that point.

Usually no more than three or four reads. Then I thank them, make sure they leave their headshots and contact information, and tell them WHEN they will be informed about a call-back.

(And for goodness sake, don't say "Don't call us, we'll call you.")

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Old August 17th, 2005, 06:57 PM   #3
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Very informative!

Is it inappropriate to ask for adjustments that run counter to the mood of the scene; e.g., asking for a happy adjustment in a sad scene?

In a recent audition I tried various adjustments, running the gamut of emotions, to see if the interviewee had an ossified preconception of how to perform the scene. No matter how extreme the adjustment, I got the same emotional response, despite my best attempt to give playable direction.

Last edited by Emre Safak; August 18th, 2005 at 06:41 AM.
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Old September 10th, 2005, 12:56 AM   #4
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directing actors in auditions

directing an actor at audition is always important. Asking them to do something unusual with the sides is not unusual. You don't always have the director or representative et al. there during the taping so it is always important to show as many sides and the professionalism of talent during auditioning.

The ability to take direction can sometimes show better than overall talent...

auditions for Film, Tv, Stage, etc. all have different variables to consider. As long as you remain focused on your goals and keep your eyes open ot new possibilities, you'll do fine.

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Old September 10th, 2005, 06:31 AM   #5
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Hey, here is what works for me..

If someone is nervous at an audition I always tell them I'm not an actor, but will act out part of the scene myself for them - maybe just a few lines where I look totally riduculous. It puts you on the same level as them and not way above like a Director God. I make it clear we're in this together...and I act out a part of a scene and usually STINK! Then I tell them that they'll most certainly do better than me...and that's all I want from them.

That seems to bring it down to earth...make it clear that they are professionals in your opinion and have something you don't. It's their abilities good and bad that you're interested in. Very specifically, I tell them that they're mistakes are JUST AS IMPORTANT to me as their perfection. If they don't make mistakes then they're not being want natural realistic performances and their individual quirks and mistakes is what make the film BETTER in the end. It's just my opinion, but the greatest performances ever put on film are not perfect performances...they're so real that you forget you're watching a movie. Tell them to be a kid again...

Also, on a techie note. I tell the actors it's about them...100%. It's not about the camera, the lighting or even the words they are saying. It's about the essence of the story being told through them. I'm there to CAPTURE the story. That's it. It's my job to capture them telling a story. I'll change whatever I have to do on my end to accomodate them. I think to many filmmakers try and mess with the actors. The greatest filmmakers of all time accomdate the actors. They change the camera, lenses, lighting, audio...the entire crew.
Christopher C. Murphy
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Last edited by Christopher C. Murphy; September 10th, 2005 at 07:12 AM.
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Old September 16th, 2005, 03:27 PM   #6
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I've only produced and directed one short film, so take what I say with a grain of salt. However, through that process I learned a couple of things. First, not everyone that auditions well will act well. In hindsight, I realized that the audition was in a different location and environment than what the prospective actor would have to deal with on the set. If I could do it over again, I'd have a second round of auditions on a mock set with at least some crew members around. This not only can give your crew some practice time to get used to working together, but it will also help simulate some of the pressure the actor will face when doing it for real.

During auditions, I let the actor read the part the way they feel it should be read, without any direction from me at all. Then I give them some minor direction for a couple of different variations. This tells me if they can take direction or not. Finally, we do a little role reversal where they tell me how they feel it should be performed, as if they were the Director.

Since not all Directors are also good actors (I'm certainly not), I like to listen to what my actors have to say regarding how a part should be played. The decision is ultimately mine but it's good to get the feedback of others who may be more experienced in certain areas.
Steve Williamson
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Old September 29th, 2005, 07:26 AM   #7
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Try to get their sides (script pages) too them ahead of time. Cold readings suck. Give them the chance to be good.
If you can't get their sides to them early, ask them to bring a prepared piece in the same vein as your script.

As others stated, when you meet them do a little small talk. I like to go over their resume briefly, ask them about different projects listed. The first thing I look at is education. I want to see how many have some kind of training. I don't care if it's a continuing ed class at a community college, acting is tuf stuff and I appreciate those who take it seriously.

Always be extremely attentive during the audition. And that goes for anyone else watching with you. Nothing is worse for an actor then people comparing notes or taking phone calls during your only three minute shot.

You can definitely offer direction. Better to find out now they can't take direction then when they show up for the shoot.

If you're new to directing and have never acted I strongly recommend taking an acting class. Even just one little one. It will give you an appreciation for the process. Learn "actor's lingo". You'll need to know what they mean by: method, sense memory, Meisner, Stanislovsky(sp?) etc.

They're learning, just like you are. By you acting relaxed, even if you're faking it, they will be relaxed.

Don't tell them "no" there. A cordial email will do the trick. I can't help but thinking what it's like for an actor to be turned down for one of MY projects. Like who the hell am I?

Have fun. At this stage you ain't making money, or at least not much. And you're probably a long ways from being famous. So keep things light and fun.

And lastly, be very upfront from the beginning about any and all nudity, partial nudity, sensuality/sex scenes, even skimpy attire. It is not fair to an actor to find out in the middle of the shoot that for the next scene they will only be wearing a thong.
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