Don’t Panic! It’s Just a Redirect.
5 Things You Can Do to Reduce the Fear of the Dreaded Redirect
(By Jim Webb)
Human beings didn’t always dominate the Earth. Once upon a time, on the African plains, we were frightened little creatures trying our best to avoid danger.
Every now and then, we would hear a movement in the bushes. What could it be? A bear? A lion? A tiger? A wolf? The fear of the unknown drove us to near madness.
Fear of the unknown still influences human behavior to this day, even though we’ve largely conquered the world. Nowadays, it’s not the fear of lions and tigers that worries us. Nowadays, we fear unknown possibilities, outcomes, mistakes, embarrassment and looming disappointments.
And that’s exactly what you’re feeling when you attend an audition and, after your initial read, the casting director asks you to do it again, but with some adjustments; also known as the dreaded “redirect”.
Receiving a redirect can make even a veteran actor break into a sweat. You begin to wonder:
“Did I mess up?”
“Did they not like my initial read?”
“Is my second read going to be as good or as bad as my first read?”
“Do I really understand what they’re asking me to do?”
Well, there’s no need to fear the redirect moving around in the bushes of your mind, like a lion ready to pounce. Just as humans now control the lions that used to scare us, you, too, can control the redirects that sometimes frighten actors.
Here are 5 things to remember:
#1. Don’t get offended by a redirect
Never make the mistake of assuming that receiving a redirect means you did something wrong. In fact, often times it means you did something great. The casting director might simply want to tweak a few things, or to test your range and flexibility, or to give the decision-makers more to work with.
It’s important to remember that a redirect doesn’t necessarily mean your character choices were wrong or that your audition is going badly.
#2. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarity
Sometimes, casting directors give vague instructions. They’ve seen so many actors, and have so many more to see, that they begin to toss out instructions with little detail.
They say things like, “Do it a little more playful next time”, or, “Can you try it with a little more energy?”
Huh? What the heck does that even mean?
If you don’t understand what the casting director is asking you to do, don’t be afraid to ask for a little more information. Don’t let the pressure and nervousness of the audition cause you to not speak up. The casting director, after all, wants you to succeed. If they give you an ambiguous redirect, ask for clarity.
#3. Come prepared to play, not just to perform
You don’t go to the audition to perform. You’re not putting on a theatre production. It’s an audition!
Don’t come into the audition room prepared to do your well-rehearsed performance, and that’s it. Be prepared to play. Be prepared to put your talent and flexibility on display. That’s what the audition is for.
#4. Prepare at least two different character choices
Don’t be married to one choice. In fact, whenever possible, prepare more than one character choice.
First, prepare the choice that you feel best represents your interpretation of the character. Then, prepare a completely different choice altogether. This way, you’re not hung up on one choice, while dreading the possibility of having to do something completely different.
#5. Don’t default back to the original
It’s easy to become nervous when given a redirect, since you haven’t practiced it and must do it on the fly. Nervousness might cause your mind to toss aside the redirect altogether and, instead, default back to the character choices you have already prepared.
This type of default-thinking drives casting directors crazy! Give an actor a redirect and he does it the exact same way as he did in the initial read!
An experienced actor will, instead, take a redirect and incorporate it into their performance, while still managing to keep the same elements that made their initial read so great. They don’t default to the original. The requested change is clearly visible, but the quality of their performance does not suffer.
See, there! Nothing to fear. Not from lions or tigers, or redirects!
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