Excerpt from Book the Job by Doug Warhit
NO SINGLE AUDITION WILL MAKE OR BREAK YOUR CAREER
“If I get this part my career will be made.”
“If I blow it, I’ll never get another chance like this again.”
Thinking this way is like going to Las Vegas, betting every penny you have on a single toss of the dice, and then wondering why you’re falling apart. Not a good method to prepare unless you thrive on incredible amounts of pressure. Trust that if you do good work, you will book jobs, but don’t make any single audition “the be all, end all” of your career. Number one: it won’t help you do your best. Number two: it’s a lie.
Some actors will tell you that they’re most successful when they don’t really care whether they book the job or not. What they’re really saying is that they care enough to do good work, but they aren’t desperate for the job.
THE NIGHT BEFORE THE AUDITION
Studies have shown that most people only tap into ten percent of their brainpower; the conscious mind. They don’t realize that ninety percent of the good stuff is hidden beneath the surface. If you expect to do your best work, you must learn to go deeper.
The night before the audition is particularly important. Ten minutes before you go to sleep, sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and visualize the audition exactly the way you want it to go. Visualize the casting director responding strongly to your work. See her nodding yes, with a big smile on her face. Hear her saying, “That’s it. My gosh, you’re a terrific actor.” Next, hear your agent saying, “You got the job!” Then visualize yourself on the set actually playing the part. See the director and the other actors praising your work. Visualize the producer telling you the studio wants to hire you again. After you finish the visualization, say to yourself, “Either this or something better.” Then let it go. While you are asleep, your unconscious mind will do everything it can to assist you in creating your desired outcome.
Note one: The above exercise should be done in addition to your conscious preparation.
Note two: Even if you aren’t told about the audition until the same day, the exercise will still be of benefit.
NEVER GO TO “AN AUDITION”
Never go to “an audition.” Imagine instead you are going to wherever your character would be going. Begin your involvement in the life of the character before you even leave home. Then the actual audition will be a continuation of the life you’ve already created.
As you dress for the audition, think about what your character wants and all the ways you are going to fight to get it. As you travel to the audition, fantasize about the obstacles in your way. Daydream about the character’s hopes, fears, and secrets. Focus on the character’s life, not the audition. Don’t wait until you get there to begin this work. Getting lost in the life of the character is a lot more fun and helpful than focusing on the audition itself.
ARE YOU SETTING THE BAR HIGH ENOUGH?
Many actors say to themselves, “I don’t care if I get the job. I only want them to like me” or “If I don’t embarrass myself, I’ll be happy.” Well, guess what? If that’s all you ask for, that’s probably all you’ll get.
What do you think would happen if you said to yourself, “I have something special to bring to this role” and “There’s not an actor alive that can do this part as well as I can.” You’d probably find a way to live up to your highest expectations rather than down to your smallest desires.
Expect the most of yourself, rather than the least.
TRYING TO DO IT “THE RIGHT WAY”
Actors-waste valuable preparation time trying to figure out “the right way” to do the role. Your choices must serve the material, but what you bring to it through your unique perspective, essence, and interpretation is something that can’t be quantified as right or wrong.
The casting director may want to see you do it a different way, but that doesn’t mean your way was the “wrong way.” Art is created through the choices you make; it doesn’t come down to right and wrong.
Art is created through the choices you make; it doesn’t come down to right and wrong.
I DO GREAT WORK ONCE I’VE BEEN CAST, BUT I DON’T AUDITION WELL
If you can use your imagination to believe you’re a killer, a cop, a nurse or a politician, why can’t you use your imagination to believe you’ve already gotten the part and you’re on the set actually shooting? You go all out in acting class and you haven’t been cast. Why not when you’re auditioning? Holding back on an audition is like deciding you can’t have fun on a date because you’re not married yet.
Gene Hackman has said that when he was first starting out he used to love to audition because it was often his only chance to actually play the part. This perspective enabled him to do his best work because he was no longer waiting to get hired to show them what he could really do.
AUDITION PREP QUESTIONS
I. What’s taking place in the scene? (Given Circumstances)
2. What do I want? (Goal/Super-Objective)
3. Who and what is keeping me from getting what I want? (Obstacles)
4. What steps will I take to get what I want? (Actions)
5. What is my relationship to the other characters in the scene?
6. Do the other characters help or hinder in my pursuit of what I want?
7. How does what happened before the scene impact me emotionally? (Prior Circumstances and Moment Before)
8. How does the place where the scene occurs affect me emotionally?
9. What is my secret or hidden agenda?
10. What statement or question can I write at the top of each scene and silently repeat three times that will immediately get me involved in the scene? e.g. “How can I get you to love me?” “Please don’t leave me. ” I’m going to hurt you.” “How can I trust you? “