The Fatal Four Audition Missteps - Jeb Beach, Actor's Foundry Co-Founder

The Fatal Four: The Missteps That Sabotage Your Auditions

The Fatal Four Audition Missteps - Jeb Beach, Actor's Foundry Co-Founder

 

Over the past couple years I’ve spent a lot of time working with Casting Directors running auditions.  A few years ago, I came up with a Casting Director workshop format that we called “In The Room” in which we brought in top Casting Directors from Vancouver, Toronto, and LA.

On a selfish note, one amazing personal benefit for me was that I got to connect personally with each CD and deeply discuss the ins and outs of how each one sees auditioning, the industry,  and career success. I was able to reverse engineer each CD’s unique perspective, and I now am lucky to be one of the very few people in town who really gets all of them. (I’ve run over 1,000 auditions with Corinne Clark & Jennifer Page, JJ Ogilvy, Stuart Aikins, Candice Elzinga & Martina Smyth, Jackie Lind, Tiffany Mak, Judy Lee, Jason Knight, John Buchan, Sharon Forrest to name just the Canadian side of things).

They all have big similarities: they seek and recognize outstanding work when they see it. Of course delivering outstanding work is your prime focus, but there are also little differences that are born of how they see acting and the industry, and trust me they all have a unique perspective. My ‘thing’ as a teacher is that I’m exceptionally good at seeing/knowing ‘who you are’ and helping you to fully bring ‘you’ into your work.  To allow you to allow your work to happen. I’m good at that because it’s what fascinates me most – who we are and why we do what we do.  I have that lens on at all times, especially when I’m talking with casting.  I have developed a very keen understanding of how to adjust the approach to your work and to your audition for each CD.

I’ve also learned that aside from the personal adjustment there are  FOUR FATAL ERRORS that get in the way of success in the audition room, all of which I have made myself umpteen times, and I continually work to stay ahead of.  Ready?  Here they are:

1.  Playing into emotion rather than fighting against it.  We work so hard to make sure that the emotional truth is there that we forget to approach it like we would in real life.  I watch actors time and time again come in emotionally charged, making sure they are vulnerable and ready to spew tears or rage or whatever the emotional requirement is.  That’s a great step, but on ‘Action’ if the audience knows exactly where you are going, you have LOST THEIR ATTENTION, and that is a blown audition.  It takes big discipline to get the potentiality for emotion to be present and then FIGHT it, but that’s how we exist in real life, so that’s how you must exist in your audition.  YOU must be surprised – if you’re not, then neither am I.

2. Rushing through the audition.  We’re nervous, and the animal inside us wants us to GET AWAY FROM THIS PLACE.  We listen to it, walk in, race through, and leave the people in the room with something forgettable because effectively what we are doing is asking to be forgotten.  Auditions are uncomfortable.  Embrace the discomfort, love it, operate within it and it will translate as a character fighting to overcome personal obstacles to achieve something.  Oh yeah, that’s why I’m watching anything I ever watch in the first place.  Cool.

3. Starting the audition outside the room.  We get ‘in the zone’ outside the room, get called in and never connect with the room itself or more importantly with the reader.  When this happens, the best case result is a forced or planned audition that’s a little disconnected.  The worst case scenario is a totally disconnected read plus an off-putting personal experience.  “That actor is so self involved.  He never listens.  He’s rude.”  We have GOT to check in with the environment of the room, and ground ourselves in what’s happening in there, and what’s going on with the reader.

4. Holding on to control – not entirely dissimilar to number three, but this is when we have decided to say a line a certain way, or create a particular moment, or have come up with an ‘interesting choice’, and we end up ‘delivering’ something rather than experiencing something.  There’s this moment that has to occur before you start, it’s the embracing of the chaos of it all – it’s the ‘I have no idea what’s going to happen next’ moment.  When actors are prepared enough that they can let go, the magic happens.

 

These “Fatal Four” are what I have seen over and over and over and over again in various combinations and iterations. They are a window in to what is leading you away from success, and they provide me the opportunity to begin to help you overcome and achieve.  Please pay attention to the four missteps, and work at being so incredibly prepared that you can step into the room, breathe, relax, connect, let go and enjoy a ride that you don’t control.

Your auditions will thank you for it.

 

Thanks for tuning in :)

#GetBusyLiving

 

8 comments

  • Warren Ellis

    I am beginning to notice a pattern to my auditioning. Frequently I feel guilty walking into the room because of a number of things… lack of attention to family, and business lead the list, plus a healthy fear of success due to the affect it would have on family and business.

    I self sabotage myself with any combination of the “four” plus tying up my head during preparation resulting in a lack of preparation.

    I have to figure out a way to manage this.

    • Jeb Beach

      Warren – I totally feel you. I myself have booked 3 gigs in the past year, and two of them were in the past 6 weeks.

      That’s not a co-incidence. With the big changes that I’ve gone through, specifically with the huge shift Matthew and I have gone through, I’ve cleared out major life clutter and become more present.

      It’s so directly tied to a peaceful, grounded existence in life. I’m not sure where you’re at these days, but it really sounds like cluttered life, burdons, life frustration – all that stuff – is in the way. When we’re in that space, it’s my experience that the audition itself becomes a burdon that adds to the ‘to do’ list that we resent, and we definitely look to sabotage things on some level.

      My past 5 years have been constantly adding things to the mix – marriage, growing a business, proving myself as a teacher, two kids to name the major points. I was in a state of stress management. There was a time when I would see my agent’s number calling and my stomach would knot up.

      That was when I stepped out of commercials to make some space, but I also was foggy at best in my acting, and I wasn’t booking.

      As I’ve re-organized (read acknowledged and honoured) my life priorities, the biggest one being the business stuff of late, things have become much much more easeful.

      Not sure how much of that applies, but hopefully there’s some useful perspective for you there!

  • Ben Butler

    Hey Jeb,

    Miss you, Andrew and Ted. Good post. (And nice site btw). I have been thinking a lot abut all I have learnt and I certainly suck at audition lol. I think there may be another angle, we constrain ourselves by: our script analysis, we then try to force a relationship onto a fairly unrelationable room, to then become beholden rigidly to the script. as written.

    One of the questions I have booted around is whether, when on stage, or set, if you have clearly won your objective then whether you should have the courage to break script and stay true and simply walk off / kiss the girl / draw your pistols – because that is what the truth of the acting has lead you to with your scene partner in the moment of that relationship at that point in time… but we feel beholden to the script and cant deviate and the lack of courage to follow our impulse because of the sides and this immediately removes us from the truth in the moment. But it is an audition right, big deal and don’t want to upset the CDs.

    Is it wrong… in Good Will Hunting – “come to California with me Will”, to simply walk out if she does not, in the moment, compel you to stay in the room, or in the artificiality of an audition where the reader is obviously not giving performance energy for the 100th time that day to force and dig from within the energy onto the scene from our prep work and inner director / interpretation of the text.

    Wish I was back in your AF class and Van.

    Congratulations btw :) x

    Ben

    • Jeb Beach

      Thanks Ben! Hope your wishes come true would love to see you some time. Nice to at least see your FB updates and get a sense of where you’re at.

      I totally agree on your ‘other angle’. That’s actually part of what I was trying to communicate with ‘holding on to control’ – number 4. it’s being married to how we’ve seen it so much that we disconnect from what’s ACTUALLY going on in the room at that moment. result is a presentation and not engagement.

      to your ‘is it wrong to simply leave’ question – I think the answer is yes, it is. We are getting hired, after all, to facilitate the telling of a specific story, and the audition is seeing how that story looks through us. One perspective that I think helps with this is to always view your objective in terms of a change that you must create in the other person. So, if the character reading Skylar is falling short, you must remember your job in the moment is to get her to back off by destroying her. DESTROY that reader. I guarantee when we commit to this change the reader will wake up. Real human behaviour put upon us is undeniable. not to do this is, in fact the enablement of scene abandonment.

      Truly, I believe that a disconnected ‘calling it in’ reader is a gift. MAKE THEM SEE YOU. make it happen. you will find yourself spontaneous, alive, and chaotic. You’ll resolve the scene as it must resolve but will have dealt with the real humanity in front of you and the room will be alive.

      love to hear your your thoughts on my take on it. Great to hear from you!

      cheers,
      j.

  • Troy Adamson

    I have been to many of these “In the room” workshops. Not only did I get great personal notes from Jeb, but I walked away with a tape of me auditioning, so I could see for myself what my energy is when I walk in the room.

    For many of us, we don’t get many auditions each year and I believe the more you do it, the more relaxed you get. These workshops gave me an opportunity to practice auditioning when there wasn’t a job at stake and my focus could be on auditioning itself.

    I hope you being them back this year!

    • Jeb Beach

      Thanks Troy! I’m always very grateful to have confirmation that the value I’m working to spread is landing. Most definitely expect to see more In The Rooms this year. Working on the first one for next month hopefully. Will keep everyone posted.

      Cheers,

      j

  • David Whitmey

    Very astute and well written Jeb. I completely agree. What I get most from your theory, is that even the most well trained and experienced actor needs also to focus his training on the craft of auditioning, which really is entirely a skill of its own.

    • Jeb Beach

      Cheers David,

      I think you’re spot on – and further to that a major key to the audition is to find ways to remove from the need to ‘achieve the win’ – the general source for the nerves that we allow to get in the way of success. They build up and more damaging when we are not practiced in the skill of the audition, and the fatal four emerge. I often call that ‘all dressed up with no place to go’. Actors need to educate and practice what it takes to give that wonderful energy somewhere productive to go, then let go and let it go!

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