Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Can I get a Line?"

On every set, I hear this question at least one time: "Can I get a line?"

It's as if I can just easily make additions to the script and say "Sure! How about you say .... (whatever)"

In order to get this elusive "Line" that all new actors are in pursuit of, one needs to realize that more often than not, these things don't "just happen."

Very rarely will you show up to set (as an extra) and be bumped up to a speaking role. It does happen! Just not on a regular basis.

I do remember on a set earlier this year, we had about 100 high school extras, and suddenly we had to "recast" 3 minor roles due to various issues. This is one instance that the Director walked amongst the crowd and selected who he liked(based on look), gave them a mini-audition of sorts, and then cast them on the spot! So - it does happen!

But what I am going to talk about in this blog is how you get a line, the right way: The Audition Route.

As you probably already know, an audition is a 3-5 minute "interview" of sorts where you are called in before the Casting Director, Director, Producer, and possibly others. Most of the time you will have received a scene in advance to practice.

When you show up, you will see your competition, other actors, sitting in the waiting room preparing to read for the same role that you are reading for.

When it is your turn, you show us what you bring to the table. And you better be hitting the mark from the beginning! I hear many actors complain that they didn't have enough time in the audition, or they weren't given the chance to "get into character."

If it takes you 5 minutes to "warm up" or "get into character" you probably already lost the role. We want actors that can grasp the character quickly, immediately be immersed into that character, and be flexible enough to evolve the character based on direction that we may give you.

A good actor is "on" from the first breath of his audition. A good actor can pull the audience in and tell a story within a 3 minute audition.

On one particular show that I worked on, I would tape the initial auditions and then show the Director the footage. Did you know that most decisions for callbacks were made within the first minute of the actor's audition. Therefore, if it took you 5 minutes to really get into character, the Director never even made it to that point. You were axed within your first minute of time.

Once you impress the Director in the audition, you are invited back (a Callback) and we expect for you to do the same thing again, and then see how well you follow direction.

Callbacks usually narrow the casting process down from 30 competing for the same role to 5. If your performance is more convincing than the other actors, you will get the line(s). If not, you will have to start the entire process over again for the next project.

Performing well in an audition can be a challenge for a new actor, that's why we recommend taking audition workshops, practicing with friends, and enrolling in an acting class to get yourself familiar with the protocol and process. The Production team does not have time to explain to you what you should already know. We call in professional actors for auditions, and until you get some experience behind you, and are confident from the moment you step out of your vehicle.... you need to look at auditions as real life practice. And keep going and going and going. Eventually, if you are doing everything right, have a top notch headshot and professional resume... you will get your "line." And you will be very proud of it!