You’re at your acting class. Yours is the final scene of the night. It’s 10:30pm.  Your coach is giving you more notes than you were expecting. “Our last try felt pretty good. Damn!” Your cell phone vibrates in your pocket. Though you are all ears as your coach rips your last go to shreds, something tells you the incoming communication is of some importance. You discreetly check the screen on your phone….YOUR AGENT!!

You listen to the last of your coach’s critique, pack up and fly out of there to check the voice mail….. “You have an audition tomorrow morning at 7:30am. You have to go to the set and do the audition between set ups for the director and producer because this is a new character they’ve just written into the story line. But it’s a juicy supporting role. They are shooting in Szhuhuhtit. Takes an hour to drive there. Map is attached to the sides. Break a leg!”

“Damn, again!”

You check the sides on your device as you take the 30 minute rapid transit ride home. Great character…. 4 scenes!! And you want to rock it because it’s Quentin Tarantino shooting out in Szhuhuhtit.

Late night, early audition that could change your career, early drive to Szhuhuhtit. Makes you wanna scream “Szhuhuhtit!”

How do you prep for a sizable role with minimal time, so you give a good and detailed enough audition to land the gig?

Besides answering all the obvious questions – objective, obstacles, relationships, moment before…

Here’s a Checklist of 5 Tools that will help you add some depth to a larger role with a time sensitive preparation window:

  1. A LITTLE BACKSTORY PLEASE – Sure you know the basic objective in terms of plot. But go deeper with the “why” questions in terms of your character’s life prior to the beginning of the movie. If not stated in the script, why did your character choose the medical profession? Law enforcement? The military? Sex trade? Any of the things that would affect your character’s disposition that aren’t specifically mentioned in the script, find them. Create them. Provided it makes sense in relation to the story the writer is telling. It will add a massive amount of gravity to your work in the room. The powers that be won’t know why, but they’ll feel it.
  2. FIND YOUR OWN VOICE – Unless an accent is required, once you know why you are saying each and every line and what your intent is, say the lines enough until you can achieve what you want as far as intent, then repeat the lines with the intent over and over until you’ve found your own “relaxed” rhythm. There may be several “”ways” or “inflections” that work. You don’t have to PICK one of them. You need to be spontaneous in the room. It comes out, how it comes out. But having explored your very own personal inflections and rhythms, they are in place. And one of them will magically appear, provided you’ve done some exploring. This will add an unforced truthfulness to your work. Even if you are required to raise your voice for a heightened emotional moment.
  3. STEAL! – Ask yourself, “How would Meryl do it? How would Denzel say it? How would Robert Downy do it?” Obviously you don’t want to copy or imitate. You’re not an impressionist! It’s about maybe making the same CHOICE they made in a previous venture, in a similar scenario to the one you’re faced with. But make their choice YOUR OWN. Make their choice, but do it your way. It’s similar to finding your own voice for a line.
  4. FIND A MOMENT…EVEN JUST ONE – Look over the scene/scenes for the audition. After your mandatory beat breakdown (finding the places where the scene feels like it’s going in another direction) find a moment or moments where taking a pause would be appropriate. I don’t mean just putting a pause in for the sake of it. I mean finding a place to FILL.  A place for your character to convey something intimate, or revealing, or interesting, or kind, or loving, or menacing. Usually in the form of a reaction or thought process. Sometimes, just one of these moments, done correctly, can be enough to land you the gig.
  5. GET SOME BLOOD FLOWING – Even if emotion is NOT called for, having some blood flow going prior to your scene can be a huge advantage. Anger going on inside of you, for instance, or elation, or sexual arousal, a little rapid breathing even…all of these physiological triggers can illicit an increase in blood flow and heart rate. It’s not about putting out a lot of energy once the blood is flowing. You can be sitting in a coffee shop talking and have the blood flowing. You’ll be less in your head and thinking about things you shouldn’t be thinking about. You’ll be more ALIVE and present, and less nervous believe it or not. And more – yup. Here it comes for the 20,000,000,000 time, but who’s counting – in the moment. Once the blood is flowing, just listen, stay open, and focus on getting your need met.

Using the above tools shouldn’t and doesn’t have to take a lot of time. But on top of answering all the basic questions, exploring these tools will add some depth and flare to an audition when your prep time is compromised.

Hope you all continue to break multiple legs out there. Peace.

– Peter Bryant


Peter Bryant teaches at Bryant and Tuck Studios in Downtown Vancouver.  For class times, please click on our Class Schedule.

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