How I Did 30 Auditions In 30 Days!

On April 4th, 2019, my teacher, Richard Lawson, gave my entire scene study class an assignment to do 30 self-tape auditions in 30 days. He gave us this assignment to keep our auditioning skills sharp. Richard says that actors should practice auditioning every week and not wait until you get an audition to practice. In addition to shooting 30 self-tape auditions in 30 days, he also wanted us to submit the auditions to him every day. He had a fellow student keep track of the audition submissions on a Google spreadsheet to see who was complying with the assignment and who was not.

Once he gave us the assignment, I immediately knew how I wanted to tackle it and set myself up for success. I approached the assignment as if I were a producer setting the production schedule for a film. I looked over the next 30 days and saw them as shoot dates.

Starting with day one, I already had my sides chosen. And on that same day, I logged onto Showfax to start finding sides that I could then distribute over the course of the next 29 days. While looking for sides, I knew that I wanted to focus on my first circle of casting (those characters I can play right now) because if I put my energy into those characters, then that’s what I’ll pull in from the industry.

As I accumulated my sides, I arranged them in terms of which date I wanted to tackle them. I knew that I wanted to have a combination of prepared auditions and cold read auditions (leaning more towards prepared auditions then cold reads) So, I scheduled the prepared auditions further down the week and then decided which date I would start working on them prior to shooting them.

I also cast the people who would be readers in my auditions. I knew that I wanted so and so on this day and so and so on that day. And in turn, I helped some of them with their auditions as well. I also had readers on standby if my first choice had to reschedule for whatever reason.

I also thought ahead in terms of wardrobe for each character I was auditioning for.

So, with this system set in place, I could see the entire 30 days. It became less daunting and more doable. I was at cause. I was in the driver’s seat. I planned ahead and saw everything from beginning to end. I was able to successfully shoot a self-tape audition every single day. I never fell behind. I never flinched from doing them. It was one successful audition after another. And by successful, I mean getting them done, executing them on time, making choices, being off book (unless it was a cold read), etc.

Tackling these auditions like a producer helped me to maintain my sanity.

I even posted a still image from each audition every day on Instagram and Twitter to document the journey. About two weeks into the journey, I also started posting still images on Facebook–starting with the still from the first audition.

When I emailed Richard the link to my 30th audition on May 4th (May the fucking fourth be with you!), I threw my fists in the air and cheered! I felt so good! I felt so accomplished! I felt like an artistic warrior (I am an artistic warrior!) And the most important lesson for me about this assignment was that IT WAS FOR ME. I wasn’t doing these auditions for Richard (that was not the point of the assignment) I was doing it for ME. To stay ready and sharp when it comes to auditioning.

I really don’t think that many people get the enormity of this achievement. This assignment was an event. This assignment was unique and it stood out. This assignment was challenging. To execute 30 self-tape auditions in 30 days was no small feat. It takes a lot of courage, tenacity, energy and excitement to tackle and finish an assignment like this–in addition to all of the other things going on in my life both professionally and personally. I remember being on set for the national commercial I booked right in the middle of this assignment and I was working on my audition sides at 2:30am on set!

Thank you to the following people for being my awesome readers over the last 30 days:

Chris Beber, Maia Modeste, Sayaka Miyatani, Jayne Marin, Angie Padilla, Emily James, Jessica Sade Ward. xoxo

Advertisements

Is This Thing On??????

And we’re back!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here’s to a great 2019!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let’s get right to it, shall we?

I was at a commercial audition recently and we were all put together into groups of four. And as you may or may not know, first impressions are everything when you walk into an audition room. Hell, first impressions are everything when you walk into ANY room (the bank, the grocery store, etc.) How you walk into a room is everything.

In the case of audition rooms, the casting directors immediately get a sense of who you are as a PERSON when you walk in. Is this person’s attitude light and fun? Or is their attitude dark and hostile? Is this someone I want to hire and work with on set? Your life force coming into a room is vital because the people in the room either like you immediately or they don’t. I have been a reader for casting directors. I have cast my own projects. I know the power of life force. You know immediately if you like someone or not just by them walking into the room. It’s ENERGY.

So, I say all of this because whenever I walk into an audition room, I am coming in with life force and I maintain that life force throughout the entire audition. I walk in with certainty. I am interested in the people in the room. I am present. I am aware that there is a camera in the room and that it may already be on. That camera may already be live and streaming into the office next door or into the office in another city. They already may be watching you. Or, the camera may be off and then it comes on right before they ask you to slate.

So, my point is that we need to be aware of our life force in the room. We can’t turn it off or forget about it at any point in the audition room. If we let go of our life force and become dead in the room and that camera is already on and streaming, what impression are we giving to the people watching us? Similarly, if we let go of our life force and become dead in the room and the camera isn’t on, then do we ramp up our life force and get ready again when they ask us to slate? Come into the room with life force and maintain it. In this way, it’s always there. It’s always present. You don’t have to get ready to stay ready. You don’t have to keep ramping up your life force on and off. On and off. On and off. Am I making any freaking sense?

Maintaining your life force during the whole audition is an energy that is palpable and exciting.

So, my group goes into the audition room and my life force is on. I’m interested and engaged in a real way with the session runner in the room. My group stands in a line and I immediately noticed that the other three had no life force. They were not engaged or present. They were just standing there. And the camera is pointing right at us. Again, is it already on? Is this thing on???????????????????

The session runner asked us to slate one at a time to the camera. I went first and I delivered a great slate. I was already living in my life force and so my slate was a natural extension and continuation of it. I didn’t have to ramp up. I didn’t have to get ready to do my slate. I was already in my life force and my slate was the extension and continuation of it. Stay in it. Maintain your life force. I watched the other three actors slate and they all did the same thing: They came to life when they slated and then went lifeless after they slated. It was so interesting and fascinating to watch. They turned on like a lightbulb when they slated and then they turned off after they slated. Not one maintained their life force.

And now by this point, we all know the camera is DEFINITELY on and recording. Don’t assume that just because you’ve slated that you can now go back to your inactive state. Don’t assume that the camera has moved over completely to the next person. Don’t assume that the camera hasn’t pulled out into a wide shot after the slates to get a full shot of the group. Imagine that: The camera is in a wide shot recording all of us and you look out of it. Or you look lifeless. Or you look like you have an attitude. Or you look like you don’t want to be there. I’m looking over at them like: “This is supposed to be fun!!!!!!! This is not a funeral!!!!!!!”

Again, life force. And I don’t mean you do cartwheels in the room and run for mayor hoping to be liked. I’m not talking about phony presentation and over-the-top theatrics. Because that energy also reads negatively in the room. That is also off-putting. Life force is connected to your purpose. Your sense of self. Your certainty. When you walk in, does the room light up? Do you make the room better? When I teach the Professional Development Program class at the Richard Lawson Studios, I ask the students after they watch their auditions: “Would you hire you?”

Back to my audition. So after we all slated, the session runner asked us to share a story about who inspires us. Again, I went first and delivered my story. I was a person in a place sharing a story. When I was done, I maintained my life force and listened with interest to each actor who went after me. I was engaged and present. However, each actor did the same thing again: They came to life when they told their story and they went lifeless after their story. Not one actor listened to the other actors’ stories. They just stared off into space like, “Is this over yet?” Again, like they didn’t want to be there. Like this wasn’t fun and exciting. JESUS MOTHERFUCKER!

When you go to an audition, maintain your life force from start to finish because that camera may already be on, you don’t know who else is watching you from another room and you also don’t want to rev up, amp up, re-ignite, turn on and off your life force. It’s like turning a car on and off. On and off. On and off. Turn that sucka on and let that engine purr from start to finish.

Happy 2019!

Quick Tip: Callbacks

Shout out to my younger brother Bobby who encouraged me to do a video blog this time around! He reads my blog every week and is a big supporter of my career! I’ve only done one other video blog before (In 2016, right before I shot a film and I was sharing my character’s wardrobe with everyone)

Click on the link below to get a quick tip of the day regarding callbacks! (Shout out to the motorcycle gang at the end of the video!)

Self-Tape Audition Adventures!

Fellow actors! As you probably know by now, self-tape auditions are becoming more and more common. A self-tape audition is where you are responsible for putting yourself on camera for an audition and submitting it to either the casting director or your reps. You are not auditioning in the casting director’s office, but rather, in a place you’ve set up for self-tape auditions: your office or a guest room or a studio room, etc. Self-tape auditions occur for a variety of reasons and I love to do them when the opportunity presents itself.

I had another self-tape audition yesterday (September 9th) for a feature film. I was thrilled with the part I auditioned for and I had a great experience from start to finish.

Looking back at my experience, I’m proud of:

*Being on go from the moment I received the audition notice from my agent. Being on go meaning that I jumped right away into the work and planned out when and how I was going to get my self-tape done.

*Keeping myself open to the audition preparation process (Subtees Process) and honoring my first impressions with good-humored inflexibility.

*Researching previous work that the director and writer of the feature film did to get a sense of their artistic aesthetic.

*Bringing someone else into the audition process that I trust to read the other characters in the scene.

*Me not questioning my choices.

*Setting up my self-tape station and deciding the best time to shoot it.

*Choosing my wardrobe based upon the headshot my agent submitted to casting. Because a headshot only captures the top half of your wardrobe, I used the clues that the writer gave to inform the bottom half of my wardrobe.

*Having a moment before. Having subtext.

*Being a real person in the scene having an experience.

*Shooting the self-tape audition in about 35 minutes. I had two scenes and I did three takes for each scene, plus a take where I slated and a take for my full body shot.

*Looking at the takes and knowing which ones I was going to keep and which ones I was getting rid of. And being able to look at the takes objectively with no emotional attachment. In other words, looking at the takes objectively to see if I was honoring the story being told and that I was also delivering my product. I was very happy with the product I created and that each take was only slightly different from each other. Every take was still in the same zip code.

*Quickly editing the takes and uploading it to Actors Access for my agent to approve and submit to casting on my behalf.

*My agent loving the self-tape audition and writing, “Great job!”

*Me sending a cool and clever tweet to the casting director afterwards to thank them for the audition opportunity.

*Celebrating my win with pepperoni pizza and champagne.

What was the last self-tape audition you had? How did it go? Or what was your most favorite self-tape audition? Let me know in the comments section below!

Auditions

LLL d 31_5418.NEFCasting directors in a scene from “La La Land” / Lionsgate

On Monday, June 5th, I had the honor and privilege of being a reader for a prominent casting director who was casting various roles for a feature film. As the reader, I brought each scheduled actor into the room and read the other characters in the scene they were auditioning for. A reader gives the casting director the opportunity to focus on the actor who’s auditioning, to take notes on them and give re-directs if necessary.

This was my third time being on the other side of the casting desk. The first time was when I was a reader for an AFI short film that was being cast by another prominent casting director. The second time was when I was casting for my own TV pilot. With this project, I read the entire script for context and I rehearsed the scenes I was in so that I could impinge and affect the actors when they read with me.

Being a reader this past Monday was a great confirmation and reminder of things I already understood about the casting process and I wanted to share it with you all:

1) Don’t take it personal if you don’t get the job. There are so many reasons why you don’t get the job. Reasons that are out of your control. This particular casting director (and the director of the feature film) was looking for something very specific with certain roles. So either the actors had it when they walked in the room or they didn’t. In some cases, several of the actors had one dynamic of the character, but lacked another dynamic of the character. All good and talented actors that came into the room. But again, nothing personal. The people behind the scenes are putting together a complicated puzzle and have to make sure the pieces fit looks-wise, age-wise, type-wise. One actor was too tall. Another was too short. One didn’t look high school enough. One didn’t look nerdy enough. Our job as actors is to deliver a strong product and book the audition rooms so that we can be brought back for other projects in the future. Remember, casting directors are not just casting that one project…they are casting other projects down the line.

2) Don’t take it personal if the casting director seems “unfriendly” or “cold”. This particular casting director was literally juggling 10 different things in between each audition session. It’s not that they were cold. This casting director loves actors. It’s just that they were dealing with a myriad of things regarding the project. In between actors coming into the room, this casting director was calling one particular agency to see if they could resolve a scheduling conflict with an actor they already cast in the feature; or they were working out a deal memo; or they were calling Breakdown Services to re-release a breakdown for another character; or they were on the phone with the director and producer of the feature film to let them know that they might be losing one of the lead actors due to a scheduling conflict.

3) Make strong choices. The actors that booked the room made strong choices and delivered a product. One actor asked me before we entered the room, “What do you guys want to see from me?” I answered, “Do what you prepared and they’ll give you a re-direct if necessary.” Don’t ask or figure out what the casting director wants to see from you. Create your product and deliver it. Show us what you created and how you brought this character to life. Give us the answer. Believe in what you created.

4) Don’t apologize. Apologizing before you start your audition, apologizing during your audition or apologizing after your audition doesn’t serve you. Apologizing leaves something in the room that doesn’t need to be in there. Apologizing leaves this icky feeling/energy in the room. Once you apologize, it gives us an “out” to not root for you. Once you apologize, you’re shaping our viewpoint of what you’re about to present to us or what you just presented to us. Don’t apologize. Do your best and let us have our own opinion and viewpoint about your audition. Don’t apologize for us and leave us with an apology.

5) Casting directors are rooting for you. They want you to be the answer!

This was a great experience and I hope to do it again!