Sunday, September 07, 2014

Who the HECK are these actors??

At one of my commercial auditions last week, I had to use a teleprompter.  Usually, in commercial auditions, there is a board with words handwritten on it in multiple colors to denote various speakers.  I don't see very well, and wear glasses in my *real* life (have since I was 6 years old), but not my onscreen life.  I don't wear contacts anymore because they started making my eyes unhappy, so I memorize the text before I go in just in case the handwriting on the board is written in a light color that I can't see from wherever I'm told to stand.

The text on the teleprompter was fuzzy to me, but I had been in the waiting room long enough to familiarize myself with the script.  The trick is to say the words without looking like you're reading, stay in character, and follow all of the instructions given to you beforehand (move here, pick this up, put that down, etc.).  As I began my audition, the text on the teleprompter began to scroll... and it was scrolling more quickly than I thought it would.  I kept pace up to the point where I felt like it was too fast, and then I stuck with my natural rhythm.  Sure enough, the words ran off of the screen before I could do the ending.  I stayed in character, continued with my given action, and (because I had memorized the words), said the last two lines when it felt right.

The CD told me "I knew the words were off the screen, and I was wondering what you were going to do.  Thank you for memorizing - it shows you give a shit."  I told him "I do."  He continued with "It shows that you take this seriously, and that you care about making some money."  I told him "Not only that, but I don't want to come in here and look bad, because it puts casting in a bad position.  It wastes time, and then you can't put me in front of the client."  We chatted a little bit more, but the exchange left me wondering what kind of actors he had been working with that day.  The few actresses that went in before I did are professionals that regularly appear in commercials, so I know that none of them are screwing around in the audition room.

Who are these people who care so little about a career that takes so much time, energy, and money?  Memorizing isn't everyone's way - I get that.  If I could see the friggin' board, I probably wouldn't even do it.  But if you are leaving the casting director, the session runner, or any other industry personnel (including actors) with a bad impression of your work ethic, what is the point of even going to an audition?

To paraphrase a veteran actor from my scene study class yesterday:  "As a lawyer or doctor, you have to have years of schooling before you see the inside of a courtroom or touch a patient unsupervised, but people think they can walk, talk, and get an agent, so 'Hey, I'm an actor!' because the skills required aren't easily identifiable."

An actor may have natural ability, yes, but an actor also trains so that s/he can command that ability when called upon.  A PROFESSIONAL actor goes as far as necessary to bring words to life, and then goes further because a career requires more than just acting know-how.

It requires "giving a shit."

--Nicole

2 comments:

Brandy said...

This is great and I feel the same way. Every time I read about bad experiences in the casting room I'm thinking "how did these people even get so far?" It's amazing that people think they could just wake up and be a movie star. It takes practice and commitment and more practice. This is a serious job and people should be professional and know their stuff.

Nicole J. Butler said...

Brandy -

I think this Goethe quote says it best:

“I wish the stage were as narrow as the wire of a tighrope dancer so that no incompetent would dare step upon it.”

;)