(Originally published on the web as, “The Audition Paradigm”)
I am often asked about auditioning – “what’s the secret?”
There really aren’t any secrets, but there is a checklist. Here is my memory word, a word you can use to make every audition more successful – by going through the checklist.
The word is PARADIGM.
P – Prepare. Preparation usually involves several steps. Here are just a few: Know what you are auditioning for. Ask questions, get information, and listen carefully. Familiarize yourself with the script (if there is one). If there is a script (or sides), study the character and make a couple of solid choices as to how you will perform it. If there is no script, but you have a general description of the character you are trying out for, again make some choices. Plan your trip to the place where the audition is taking place. Have your outfit picked out. Make sure you have gas in the car – or correct change for public transportation. Plan the day ahead of time. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready (hair, make-up, etc.).
The number one element in a successful audition – that most casting directors point to – is preparation.
A – Arrive early. This is VERY important. When you arrive early you accomplish two crucial things: First, you are “on time.” This is a must in our industry. People who show up late are a pain in the ___ (fill in your choice of body part). Producers hate late. directors loathe the lackadaisical. Other actors don’t like it much either. casting directors are unlikely to form a favorable impression of you if you are late. That’s because if you are cast (on their recommendation) and then you show up late for production, they will get yelled at. CD’s don’t like getting yelled at. They are unlikely to recommend you if you are late. (Don’t “sign in” early as this will cause problems. Get there and wait nearby.)
The second thing that happens when you arrive early is you have time to do the next part of a successful audition which is:
R – Relax. Being relaxed is important to your results. If you are keyed up, stressed, rushed or still coming down from the trip to the audition – it will cost you. Almost everybody needs some time to “get ready.” Only you can know how much time you will need, but whatever it is – that’s how early you have to get there.
There are about as many techniques for relaxation as there are humans on the planet – so I’ll skip listing them. The bottom line? The relaxed actor is the more successful actor. Why? Because if you are relaxed, you help relieve the natural anxiety the casting director, producer and director are also dealing with in the audition process. Oh, yes, it’s tough on them too. If they don’t get it right it can ruin an entire production. So, believe me, they are stressed. Relax and the whole world relaxes with you.
A – Act. A lot of actors forget the purpose of an audition. The CD’s, directors and producers are looking for a performer – which means it is important to perform. This is another reason to relax. It’s easier to remember to do the job when you are at ease.
D – Deal. Every audition is just one of the many you will have in your career. If you are a normal human being you will “fail” 80% of the time. Not just at auditions either. The best piece of advice about this failure business is given by one of the richest men in the world, Bill Gates; “If you want to be more successful, double your failure rate.”
The most difficult thing to ‘deal’ with in the entertainment industry is the inevitable – “I didn’t get it.” – realization You must understand that this is going to be the case much more often than not. Rejection is not an easy thing to deal with, but if you want to be a successful actor you must learn to deal with it. It’s a central part of a professional acting career.
As I have pointed out, more than once, even successful established actors are rejected a lot. Every time a part is being cast (say, Batman or Scarlet O’Hara) there are hundreds of professional, money-earning stars who are dismissed as possibilities and dozens of others who meet with the producers and find out later that – “I didn’t get it.” Dealing with rejection is crucial to your eventual success. So, deal with it.
I – Impress. If you accomplish the goals on this list, you will impress the people doing the casting. You will be considered a “pro.” Professionalism is the word you want attached to your efforts. This will happen if you are on time, prepared, entertaining, relaxed and able to deal with the inevitable rejection that follows most auditions. That’s your goal in every audition – to impress them with your professional attitude.
Even if you don’t get this one, when you impress the CD, the director or the producer with your pro attitude, they will think of you for something else. Guaranteed.
G – Grace. Gracious people have the edge. We like them, we trust them, and we want to work with them. Be polite. Remember people’s names. Be helpful. Listen carefully. Follow directions. Don’t impose your ‘neediness’ on the CD. You will always leave a good impression if you are gracious to other people in the business. Think Cary Grant or Audrey Hepburn.
Your mantra should be; “I’m nice … to other people.”
M – Manipulate. If you hope to succeed you will probably need to manipulate somebody.
Of course, there is only one human being you really have any control over – and have any hope of manipulating: Yourself.
In other words, don’t waste a minute of your time trying to find the “reasons” behind someone else’s decisions and attempt to change her mind. Take a step back from every ‘failure’ and discover what needs manipulating in your own actions and reactions.
You can only change the world by changing yourself.
That’s my audition PARADIGM.
Is it easy to do all these things? No way. If it were easy, everyone would be a successful actor and they’d have a difficult time finding people to type up annual reports for $6.75 an hour.
But make no mistake; you can accomplish all you want, once you set your mind to it. Of course, the important words in that last sentence are “set your mind to it.”
Go ahead. You can do it if you really want to.
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