Friday, September 23, 2011
I had an audition today. I don’t think I’ve ever walked people through an audition before, so let’s try that.
13 Steps to a Good Audition
Step 1. Locate the audition and estimate how long it will take to get there, then add 30 minutes, because it’s going to take longer. Actually, it seems to me that it’s not entirely important that you’re on time. I’ve been very early before and very late. They just want to run people through. My audition today was at a place called Space Station Casting Studios. It’s 15 minute bike ride for me. Good.
Step 2. Before you leave, be sure you have your headshot and acting resume. They need to be stapled, with the resume facing out on the back of the headshot. You should staple the top and the bottom. I am always frantically doing this right before I leave. It is still odd to me to have a bunch of pictures in my room with my smiling face looking back at me.
Step 3. Outside the casting studio, use the camera in your phone to check for food in your teeth. I do this every time.
Step 4. When you get to the lobby, sign in. This is something that no one explains to you. You have to sign in, so they know you are there. At the casting studio today, there were four auditions going on for different projects.
Step 5. Survey the others sitting near you. Start picking out people who look like you, they are your competition. Be sure they see you sharpening a knife at various times. Pick out others and try to determine what sort of role they may be auditioning for.
Today, I sat on a bench with others. It turns out the bench was broken and was slowly buckling under our weight. I sat by a woman with her daughter who was auditioning, they both seemed strangely normal. When we got moved because the bench seemed like it was going to snap at any moment, I sat on a love seat of a bench with a large man. You know how if you’re sitting and someone else comes to sit next to you where there is not that much room, you scoot over a little bit out of politeness? This gentleman did not know this rule. He was the type of guy who sat with his legs as far apart as possible. I had one cheek on, one cheek off.
Step 6. Check to see if there are sides. Sometimes they will give you sides ahead of time, and sometimes they will just have some there when you arrive. Today, there were none. This is good for me, it means that it’s going to mostly be improvised.
Step 7. Enter the audition room when you are called. They are usually just very small rooms. Hand the people your stapled resume and headshot. This is where you want to be yourself, a confident friendly version of yourself. If you don’t have a confident, friendly version of yourself naturally, put yourself somewhere between, I’m meeting my girlfriend’s parents for the first time and I just made the best possible yogurt concoction at a self serve yogurt place. You are humble, but you are also a master.
Step 8. Join in the awkward small talk the people behind the table make with you. They want to like you, so you can show them that you would be fun to work with. Today, we talked about how to pronounce my last name and Houghton, MI. I was charming.
Step 9. Listen intently while they tell you about what they’re hoping for in the project. This is your chance to hear where they are coming from. When they ask you if you have any questions about the role, ask something about the character’s motivation, they like that. Don’t ask about their position on physician assisted suicide, you’ve passed the small talk portion.
Step 10. Slate, this is where you say your name to the camera.
Step 11. Act! I was auditioning for two commercials in the same series today. The premise for them is a guy in his thirties who lives with his parents and needs to be move out, so he needs to use their service to find his own place. The first spot was me in the bathroom brushing my teeth while my parents were grossly getting ready in the bathroom at the same time bumping me and annoying me. Obviously, there is no one around me, so I had to pretend like there were, while I was sitting. Michelle and I have a tiny bathroom, so this wasn’t too difficult to improvise. I made them laugh, good sign.
The second one was that I was making out on the couch with a girl I brought home. It’s dark and I am shocked to realize that my parents are doing the same thing on the other end of the couch. This one was more difficult because I had to improvise that I was making out. Do you know how hard that is? I put my arms around an invisible girl on my lap (I’m married, it was Michelle of course). I basically just kept my mouth open and moved my head around, which is exactly what I do when I’m actually making out. Then, I acted shocked when I saw my parents, who were the two guys behind the desk off camera. I made them laugh again.
Step 12. Shake their hands and walk out trying to step over the remains of their minds, which were just blown.
Step 13. Walk through the lobby of the other auditioners like the cool guy in the movie who has just set off an explosion behind him, but is too cool to even look back to watch.