On the heels of a crazy busy month, I was catching up on some actor notes from my most recent Toronto visit, working with Casting Director Sharon Forrest.
On the whole actors did some outstanding work. Impressive first takes. Then it was time for notes from Sharon. Previously, on our coaching day, I had prepared them to be ready for some interesting, possibly off the page redirects. I’ve worked with Sharon quite a few times, and I know she likes to play this way, often citing the fact that a director will throw stuff your way just to see how you do.
So…. in our coaching day, I had worked to ensure everyone came in with RANGE. NOT married to a choice, ready to adjust. I think that’s key always for all our auditions. Auditions are about engagement and engagement is the child of investment and unpredictability. Our auditions only have a shot at creating those conditions when we bring in range, not a predetermined read.
As a result actors did great first reads, and were, on the whole, directable.
NOW… here’s where it got interesting:
often times the redirect was absurd (intentionally so) “I’m not saying it’s good direction, it’s just direction”. And even when they were absurd, actors successfully let go of previous ideas and delivered. But wait. half way though, that big moment that plays as a confession now makes no sense. How do I play it now… umm…. (drops out, fumbles through, finishes take). “woah, that made no sense. hmmm…. i think it needs to go like this…..” (does another take, nails it).
And THAT. Right there is the missed opportunity to deliver the PRINTABLE TAKE.
That actor got to the printable take, but needed an ‘exploration take’ to get there.
That actor is not as hireable as the actor who delivered the printable take right away. Why? It is likely to take longer to get the result.
That’s not luck, it’s an easily masterable skill, and I think it’s a golden opportunity for an actor to raise their professional image in the audition room.
We are being hired to deliver PRINTABLE TAKES. The easier it is to do this, the more we will get hired.
When a director gives us a redirect, intentionally or otherwise, we are in a role play of what it will be like to work together on set. We are testing each other out. If I waste a take, it’s harder to hire me.
If I take a little time to clarify, grab the sides, flip through and see where interesting change ups may occur as a result – explore on the fly BEFORE THE CAMERAS ROLL, then I am much more likely to deliver a printable take.
Not only do you have permission to take that extra little bit of time, you have the professional responsibility to do so.
In the wrap up, Sharon made note of the fact that not many actors can do that – take a wild redirect and deliver. it’s not that they don’t possess the innate ability to do it, it’s that they simply haven’t been in the practice of doing it.
I asked her: when you see an actor do that, does it raise their stock and make you want to work with them? Absolutely. She said.
Ok, so…. how about we practice that skill?
The first step is not being married to a ‘choice’. So bringing RANGE to your audition. The next step is taking the time to process and adjust BEFORE THE CAMERAS ROLL.
BOOM. you’ve now delivered two very different printable takes with no wasted time.
“What a pro. Think about how much I can get from this actor if I hire them.”
Yeah…. that’s a good thing.