I have a rant. I think your column is cool, and fun to read. The thing is though; I don’t find it to be 100% good to have actors always read it. My point being is that many times the articles are about what to do and what not to do, how to act in front of a casting director and how not to act, how to chat up an agent or casting director and when not to. Well, you get the idea. I think your articles have plenty of useful information and many actors can benefit from them. But I feel that repeatedly telling these young actors how to act in front of others or what to do in certain situations makes them fear for their lives in auditions. They shouldn’t be worried about how to properly greet an agent or manager at an audition, they should be focused on attacking their scene or monologue head-on. If these actors focus on the work more than they focus on reading for a “Mali Finn,” they would be better off. I think they’re all intimidated of every agent and casting director in town.
I hear you. Imagine there has been an emergency and a surgeon is working on your loved one, performing heroic measures in an attempt to prevent the loss of life. While you’re pacing the halls, wringing your hands, you have no interest in hearing about how close your loved one came to death during the process. You simply want to know, “Will she make it?” And if the surgeon comes into the waiting room and wants to give you a blow-by-blow account of every incision, every injection, and every oh-we-almost-lost-her moment that took place, you, the anxious loved one, would rightfully freak out.
But some people like to watch Extreme Makeover (and I mean every moment of every bit of surgery; and they’d do so even if that were their kid on the operating table), so you have to know that what some consider TMI (Too Much Information), others consider to be fascinating — even essential — details. Here’s another analogy: It’s like traveling on an airplane. Some people NEED to know how an airplane stays aloft. Others don’t care, they simply trust that the plane will do its job and fly them from point A to point B.
If every actor only ever focused on his or her craft and NEVER asked questions about color headshots vs. black and white or in-room small talk vs. asking for feedback or clear envelopes vs. standard manila, I’d believe it’s okay to leave a lot of the “gory details” out about the business of show business. But because actors tend to obsess about what the heck the casting director is writing on their resumés (or why they’re looking at the top of the casting director’s head during auditions), I do my best to help demystify the parts of the auditioning process that most confound actors.
There are dozens — perhaps a hundred even — classes on craft going on regularly in Los Angeles. In these classes, energy is regularly “focused on attacking a scene or monologue head-on.” Because there are next to NO classes out there on handling the business of acting (and because that is my expertise, much more so than any craft-related issues), I pen a weekly column that helps bridge the gap between the craft actors work on in class each week and the legitimate, in-the-room business issues actors face. One of my biggest pet peeves with formal acting training at colleges and universities is that it concentrates almost entirely on the craft and not much at all on the business of acting. Since actors must navigate the business elements (including what to say and what not to say, in certain situations) in order to get the opportunity to show the world their talent, I think a supplement to all of the craft-focused classes and programs out there is an absolutely appropriate offering.
My weekly column is one of many resources an actor should be using before feeling ready to tackle auditioning. I would never encourage an actor to ONLY arm himself with the information in my columns. It is only because there is very little “out there” about what is really happening before, during, and after an audition that I continue to focus on things such as getting out of your own way, handling the “big meeting,” and staying in the mindset that is most likely to help you win the role.
It seems there are many actors who not only enjoy learning about the point of view of those on “the other side of the desk,” but who actually rely on the demystification of the process to put them at ease with what they are about to face, each time they enter the room for an audition. Having such information gives them “room” to focus on their craft, because they can disengage from worrying about all of the things they may otherwise obsess about, if they didn’t have an overview of what was likely going on.
Case in point: I also received the following email this week.
Just a note of thanks to you and Mark for your columns on Actors Access. I’m just beginning to realize what an impact they have made on my ability to be a professional with manners. I’m an actor in the thespian Mecca of Flagstaff, Arizona, excited to be relocating to Santa Monica in June. Much of that excitement comes from the ability to distance myself from the myths and use common sense/hard work to grow on a daily basis. It seems so easy to remember but sometimes it’s not. So, thanks for being my reality-check and a source of inspiration! A rare combo.
Millions of people board airplanes every year. Some of them are comforted by having someone seated next to them saying things like, “That’s just a wing adjustment you’re hearing. We’re fine,” or, “That’s the landing gear. Nothing to worry about. Totally normal,” or, “It’s okay, they have to tell us how to get out of the plane alive, in case of emergency. It doesn’t mean it’s any more likely to happen than if they didn’t review the procedures.” They may like to hear these things especially the first few times they fly! Those who don’t prefer to have such information can choose to sleep throughout the flight (with or without a valium), simply disengage from “hearing” equipment sounds that worry them, or elect to travel by bus or train instead.
That’s the beauty of this whole thing: If you’re getting something out of having the casting process demystified, awesome. If it’s scaring the bejeezus out of you, take a break from reading about the business and focus on the craft instead. When and if you find yourself wondering why something (non-craft-related) went the way it did in a future audition, you can always come back and search the archives to see if Mark or I have covered the topic. And, if we haven’t, you know where to email us with your questions!
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000368.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.