How do you prepare for a casting?
The best you can!
I gave the students an opportunity to watch the previous week's work on video. Having
given them all a pen and some paper, I asked them to evaluate their own performances. They had been working on some unison work. In previous weeks we had looked at ensemble playing and moving from one focal point to another, as a group. We had also explored the possibility of developing a group understanding. In asking the students to be self critical, I expected them to be constructive and not only mention where and when they went wrong, but think about how and why.
Awareness is the one word which is recurring in our sessions.
In one section of the unison work, every actor suddenly dropped their imaginary prop and then expected the audience to believe that it was still there, once they returned to using it.
I mentioned to the group that their performances need to be consistent in unison work, because the moment we drop the prop, we drop the performance.
We have made a conscious decision to continually change from acting for the stage and acting for camera, so for the main part of this weeks session, we looked at techniques for acting to camera.
The plan was to begin with 'idents' (saying your name and age to camera), then to read for a character in a short scene, with just a couple of minutes to prepare. As I expected, the majority of the students failed to keep eye contact with the camera and performed their scenes with their noses in the scripts. We did not play these back to them.
We then paired the students with the corresponding character for each scene, gave them
some time to rehearse and learn the scene and then filmed each scene. The students took a small amount of direction, and also had the different types of camera shots explained to them. They were filmed with various close ups and cut aways and the scenes will be edited and viewed at the next session.
Each student made an attempt to adjust their performance for camera. I explained that they only needed to project their performance as far as their partner's ears and not to think about the rest of us in the room. The scenes were played out very nicely, if a bit rushed. This will cause problems with the editing, but t's a first attempt.
So here's the whole point of the three hour session... ...how do you prepare for a casting?
After we filmed the scenes, we filmed them reading again, in a simulated audition. The
'idents' were relaxed and focused. The scenes were played to the person representing the casting director and not to the page in front of them. Some of the students played some of the very long pauses beautifully, with clear intention and it 'read' perfectly. They were brave and sophisticated. Everything that was missing from the first reading, was present in the final reading.
Young people who are not experienced professional actors need to know what they have to bring to the table, at a casting. In seeing the contrast between the 'mock casting' at the beginning of the session and comparing it to the one at the end of the session, they now understand that which we don't want to see in a casting and that which we do. It's all in the preparation. It will, at some point, be the difference between getting the job and winning the job.
On a personal note... ...when you recruit students, you do so, based on the promise that is shown at some point in their audition/workshop. This week, each student, at some point, showed us a glimpse of their true potential. It's a very special 'buzz' that you get, when you see 'talent' emerging.
This is our company Blog, re-capping previous weeks sessions.