Read to me (or being a reader)
Please indulge me while I vent for a moment.
Right now there are maybe a million actors around the globe trying to make it as an actor (I tried to google this information but it was impossible to get exact statistics), be that part time, full time, in school or just starting out. So if you get called into a room to read for a major Hollywood feature or television show you would probably make sure you knew your lines, or were suitably comfortable with reading lines cold in a way that would demonstrate you were right for that character….right?
In the past I have turned up to be a reader for directors, producers, Casting Directors and even attended Casting Director workshops (as a paying participant) and seen people not be off book. Now I have been told that in America people don’t have to walk in a room and be off book, so that is cool. But I bet in that case they practise cold reading a lot to really nail the skill that makes reading a fresh script a total breeze to do in the room. Certainly in Anthony Meindl’s amazing workshops and classes over here, actors have been brilliant at it. I’ve watched first hand. So if actors choose to work that way in LA, given the sheer volume of auditions, then all power to them.
Within the UK, I have found it to be a little different. Casting Directors, like the lovely Manuel Puro, even have it noted on their site that they want actors prepared and off book for their auditions. Brilliant! It’s literally giving you a cheatsheet so you know exactly what to do in the room. It’s also making it clear that if you turn up unprepared, your tape may NOT even be seen. I repeat, you may NOT even end up being seen by the people who make the decision on whether to cast you or not.
Just because you audition does not mean your tape gets sent. It’s that simple. If you turn up hung over, unprepared, not looking at least even mildly like that role (unless your in another production that has you with pink hair or a beard and you/your agent can always explain that) then you are saying – I don’t value this opportunity you have handed me on a plate. And if the Casting Director thinks your audition isn’t good enough, then they won’t include it in the audition tapes. IT IS THAT SIMPLE.
I once posted about not having my accent down for a big US film about seven years ago and having the Casting Director explain that he couldn’t send my tape. I was devastated. Lesson learned. You don’t have to tell me twice to sort that out. What a muppet I had been!
So back to my original rant – if you are going to go in for an audition and it’s for a role that any other 2000 actors would give their right fingernail to have, then at least be prepared and know your lines. Otherwise you are an amatuer and you may as well give up now and get back to your Hollywood parties and your day sessions at Bondi Beach.
In a more positive light, do yourself this favour. Talk to a Casting Director who is your mate, or a director you have worked with in the past and feel you know well and ask them if you can be a reader for them on their next production. Perhaps they’ll even pay you (but don’t assume this). When you are standing helping in that audition room and there is no pressure of you having to give your best Oscar winning performance on show for the audition, you can learn so much. It’s like the days in acting school where you spent half the class just watching others fumbling around with lines and you didn’t get up…you learned loads and loads from watching your peers make mistakes. Being a reader is a gold mine of goodness.
And being prepared is the jackpot to success. Want to read more on this? Check out a guest blog from the beautiful actor and VO legend Felicity Josling on rehearsal and preparation.
Thanks for reading B.A.B.E.’s.