Actors and Acting
Selection of tips, tricks and other information for actors about acting.
The following is some info on how to audition for things, tips and hints, etc.
Hints for Auditions
HINTS FOR AUDITIONS
Prepared by Jenni Cohen Casting and the WA Equity section of MEAA
Always try to enjoy the experience of the audition. It is a great way to keep your skills tuned and a great way to network.
AUDITIONS AND YOUR AGENTS
When your agent calls to book you for an audition, remember to ask:
- What is the audition for?
- Where is the audition?
- What time is the audition?
- How long will the audition take? (Understand how much time you will be given to present yourself.)
- What is the part?
- Have they given you any hint about the character?
- Are there any dress requirements for the character?
- Are any accents required?
- Is there a script available to learn?
- Any physical movement skills required? If so, wear something you can move comfortably in.
- When is the shoot date? (Make sure you are available for the part you are auditioning for. It's not good form to take up a director's time only for them to find you're not available.)
- What is the fee, if chosen for the job?
BEFORE THE AUDITION
- Prepare as much as you can. If you have a script, learn and practise it. If there is no script then make sure you find out as much as possible from your agent and do a little research.
- Practise in front of a mirror, in front of a home movie camera, or with someone.
- Dress appropriately, i.e. if there are dress requirements, follow them. If possible, wear something suitable for the part you're auditioning for; otherwise, smart casual.
- Take a brief resume/CV, with your vital statistics (height, suit size, etc). Casting agents sometimes ask you to fill these details on one of their forms, while waiting.
- Make sure you know where the audition location is. (Look it up in the map book or even do a trial run to the location). Allow for traffic, and finding parking.
- Be there 5 to 10 minutes before time.
- If you are late or lost, call your agent immediately so that they can contact the casting director.
- Stretch; do a vocal warm up; relax. Have a water bottle handy.
- Turn off your mobile phone
DURING THE AUDITION
- Be aware of the space you are in, and the type of role you are auditioning for. (i.e. for theatre/musicals, they want to hear you fill the space. For camera, they want you to be natural.)
- If you are talking to an 'invisible' character, decide on a fixed point to focus your eyeline.
- Find out how tightly the camera is focussed on you. Be careful, if you move, that you don't go out of frame. If it's a tight close up, keep all movement to a minimum.
- Listen to what the casting director asks. They are looking to see if you can take instruction.
- Don't look down the barrel of the camera unless directed.
- If you are reading from a script, hold it so your face is not obscured, and look down as little as possible.
- Remember that the camera picks up everything so underplay rather than overplay.
- Keep acting until you hear 'cut'.
- Be prepared to try things several different ways. If you're given direction, make bold choices in that direction.
AFTER THE AUDITION
- Review what went well or what could've been better...but don't get too stressed about it!
- Call your agent and let them know how the audition went.
- Ask your agent when they expect to hear the results and can they try to get feedback if possible. Keep your schedule free until then.
- Follow up with a call about a week later.
- Forget about it and look forward to the next one!
Monologue Resource Page
How to SCREAM without killing vocal chords?
Does anyone have info about how to scream (or sound like you're screaming) without hurting your voice?
Its all in the Accent
An accent can make or break a production, seriously. It can add a sense of location when done well and is overly distracting if done badly.
I have to admit I have always found it easy to pick up accents (sometimes so easily I get them mixed up!) and I guess that is from years of impersonating characters off the radio and Tv. Pretty much all of the productions I have done, I have been able to get away with my natural speech or a slight English lilt. It wasn't until a couple of years ago when I did a production requiring an American Accent. I didn't even think about it. I just did it. The reviews however caught me off-guard. All were quite favourable but one in particular stuck out. It made the comment "His gentle American soap-star accent stapled neatly to him and never slipping (as indeed did all of the cast's accents remained impeccably pinned to their lips, never seen such a convincing lot) he engenders our sympathies with his torn plight." I for the first time realised the impact of a good accent.
But what exactly was it that I and my fellow cast members were doing to accomplish this? So I read up on the subject. I was initially surprised by the technical aspects of accents but then it all made sense.
In a global sense, there are two theatrically accepted and distinct English Accents, Received Pronunciation (Common British) and General American. For Australian Theatre we have General Australian. Underneath these, you have the many derivatives and subcultures. Each accent is placed physically in a different area of the head when spoken and will use the lips, tongue and jaw in completely different ways. Some accents would sound letters that weren’t there and then would drop those same letters when they were.
It really is quite a complicated sounding issue but surprising easy to pick up. I have found that once someone has developed a general feel for the sound of certain words, they can quickly adapt their speech without much effort. I was recently asked to help a few actors with American Accent development. One in particular had a rather broad Australian accent and they were worried that they would not be able to do it.
The 2 main differences between American and Australian accent are;
1) Australians tend to speak with their lips spread across and Americans are more conservative preferring an up and down spread.
2) Australians form their words mostly in the back of the throat while Americans are higher and more central, just the below the nasal cavity. For comparison, Received Pronunciation if located toward the front of the mouth and uses minimal movement of the lips in any direction.
Needless to say, once this actor exposed themselves to an instructional course of American Accents, they were able to complete the next rehearsal almost flawlessly. Quite an achievement in itself, but it just goes to highlight the ease that such a task can be accomplished with drive and dedication.
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I am awaiting a call of rejection, from a musical I have been dying to get into. Any ideas as to how to accept rejection graciously??
What An Actor Needs In A Headshot
I'm about to get my first set of headshots done, but there are some specifics that I'm not sure of.
Firstly, what is a contact sheet?
Secondly, these 8" x 10" prints that every actor should have, are we supposed to have a whole stack to hand out, or are we supposed to have one to take to auditions but still keep for ourselves?
It sound very expensive to keep handing out these 8" x 10" prints.
Any other information on headshots would be helpful.