Are you “room ready”? You may have all the talent in the world, but if you’re not prepared to rock the room, you won’t book as much as you’re capable of booking. And don’t you want to become a booking machine?
Yeah. I thought so.
So, let’s look at what goes into being ROOM READY.
1. Talent. I’m going to go ahead and make the first item the blatantly obvious one: You need to be talented. Duh. This is something you control through training. Lots of ongoing training. Sure, you might be born with “it,” but the part you control involves getting your ass in class.
2. Prep. You’ve not only read the character breakdown and downloaded the sides for your character, but you’ve grabbed the sides for all other characters or the entire script (if available), so you can learn as much as possible about the tone of the project and what it is that the other characters say about your character in those other scenes. All of this should inform your choices, as you prepare your sides for your audition. You’re as close to off-book as possible, even though you’ll audition with script in hand. Awesome.
Beyond prepping material, you’ve looked up the principals on the production team. You’ve checked out their history at IMDb-Pro. You’ve watched clips on YouTube from work they’ve previously produced. You’ve done enough Googling to know you’re not walking into a scam or an unsafe environment, and that if this is a copy-credit-meals project, you know the quality of the footage you’re likely to receive, by saying yes. YES, this is all stuff you should be doing even before you decide to attend the audition. This is alllllll stuff you control. All of it.
If these are folks for whom you’ve previously auditioned, or whom you’ve been tracking in Your Show Bible, you’ve spent quality time with that data to be sure you know when you last encountered one another and how that went, as well as what else they’re working on, in case convo about that comes up. Research is your friend! You’ll feel more at home in the room the more research you do.
3. Type Alignment. You can’t really control this one, and it’s more of a factor affecting whether you even get called in at all, but if you get an audition and it turns out you’re not the right type for the role, you may worry that you’re gonna have to stretch to make it work, or turn the audition down because it’s not your bullseye. We talked about this last week, of course. What you control here is whether you let it get into your head that there may be some lack of alignment. Do you let your audition get snakebit before it has even begun? Part of room readiness is feeling sure that you belong there. Don’t let any lack of alignment convince you that you don’t. You were invited in. You have a job to do (BOOK THE ROOM). Let the rest go.
4. Time and Location. More of a “DUH” set of issues, really, but you’d be shocked how many actors out there don’t map out where they’re headed in advance and don’t give themselves more than enough time to get there, get parked, find the session runner, and get signed in EARLY. Nothing sets an audition off on the wrong foot faster than being late. And — unless a meteor drops on the road in front of you as you’re traveling — this is within your control. No, I’m not gonna debate with you about the perils of traffic and the unpredictability of closures on the 405. You’ve got Sig Alert. Give yourself a ton more time than you think you’ll need. And communicate like crazy if you see there’s a chance you MAY be late… as soon as you realize that chance exists.
5. Your Headspace. Don’t let Waiting Room Games get to you. Some actors are just wieners and they think they stand a better chance at booking if they throw you off before you go in. Something I heard happen outside my office at 310 Casting just last week will be a future column, here, it was so gross. But since you never know when an unscrupulous actor is gonna try to get into your head, you can control the whole thing by always carrying some earbuds with you. Even if you’re not listening to music, the body language of being unavailable will cause the wiener-actor to move along to another target.
Beyond the chaos of actors in the waiting room, there’s the issue of hearing casting staff discuss the project (or other projects), seeing them offer warm welcomes to some actors while barely acknowledging others, and tracking the amount of time certain actors are spending in the room and comparing it to your experience. NONE OF THIS helps make you room ready. It’s all stuff you need to train yourself to ignore, so that you can focus on your work. Since your work is something you *do* control, start tuning out allllllllll the other stuff. Instead of entering the room focused on the gossip, the varying levels of actor respect, how behind sessions are running, or anything else that has nothing to do with your work, focus on YOUR WORK. You control that. And it’s what you’re there to do.
6. Your State. Not only should you be well-rested, fed, and hydrated before auditioning, you should also be able to either turn off or USE anything that is troubling you. If you just broke up with your partner and you’re a WRECK (but decide not to cancel the audition), you’d better be able to either use that energy in the scene itself or own the things you’re feeling without launching into an emotional tirade when asked if you’re having a good day. Since creatives on both sides of the audition table are sensitive critters, we all feel one another’s energy. For you to be room ready, you must develop, use, and keep strong the skills that allow you to shake off tough days and still do your best work. The energy you bring into the room affects how your audition is perceived.
7. Chitchat. There comes a time in many auditions during which you’ll need to engage in chitchat. Maybe it’s, “Do you have any questions?” Maybe it’s, “How did you interpret this character?” Maybe it’s, “Talk about your training back east.” Maybe it’s, “So, tell me about yourself.” You don’t control what they’ll ask you (or that they’ll ask you anything), but you sure as heck control that you’ve practiced your Brandprov and that you’ve worked on your “yes, and…” action. Being good at conversation doesn’t come easy to everyone, but you’re an actor. You can practice this art. You can build this muscle.
So, that’s a bunch of stuff you can control, all affecting your room readiness. Seven things. How about checking in on one of these per day. On the day that’s “Time and Location,” how ’bout you do a random spotcheck of area traffic maps and track the predicted travel time between your home and a random casting facility to start tracking averages. Start building up your knowledge of how long it actually takes to get around. On the day that’s “Your State,” practice your sense memory and shifting emotions from one zone to another. Whenever something happens that puts you in a foul mood, take the opportunity to practice “turning ON” as if you’ve just been asked to engage a buyer in conversation. And on the day that’s “Chitchat,” run Brandprov drills like the ones suggested in this free kit.
Ready to get on it? Wanna share some suggestions with readers of The Actors Voice on how you keep yourself room ready? Hit me up below so we can all be inspired by what works for you.
Oh, and in case you’re thinking, “Yeah, Bon. I’ve got all that in check. I’m totally room ready, but just can’t get in the room. Ah… well that’s a topic we’ll get into next week. ‘Til then, rock on!
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001697.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.