By Brian Michael
May 2015 was one of the most fruitful months in my acting career. It was as if all the little goal seeds I planted and watered with drops from my action plan began to sprout and bear fruit. I earned two callbacks for Co-Star Roles on TV projects, booked a short film, and ended the month booking a Co-Star on the new Aziz Ansari project. Here are some steps I took in the last year that helped me perform better and book more work.
1. Understand Yourself And Pinpoint The Kind Of Work You Want To Do. When I first started out I was bright-eyed and broad in focus. If you would've asked me my career plan I would've said, “I just want to act!” That was true, but there is too much happening in this town to approach a career without getting specific. Ask yourself what kind of work do I want to focus on now? Theatre? TV? Films? You may want to do all three, but try to pick one to concentrate on. I enjoy theatre and it's a great place to grow your craft, but my heart is in TV and Film. Specifically Primetime Procedurals (cop shows) and single-cam comedies. See that? The more specific you get about the work you want to do, the easier it is to put your energy into making it happen. With this information, I narrowed down the list of shows I was most interested in and was then able to find out who casts it and where I could meet them.
2. Practice Auditioning With The People You Want To Work With. There are some people I’ve met who are totally against casting director classes and workshops because they look at it as a paid audition or interview. They miss the point and I weep for them. The classes, for me, are an opportunity to learn about the casting process, the people involved, and to practice auditioning without the pressure of stakes. There are no stakes in a class. You have nothing to lose, there is nothing on the line. So, you get the chance to simulate the audition process with someone you actually want to work with and then get feedback to fine tune your “room work.” It’s worth the investment, especially when you are specific. In addition to this workout, you’re getting used to the tone and working in the world of those shows. Therefore, you are used to it when it comes time to audition. This has been critical for my success in the last few months. Because when I get called in for an actual audition, I know who I’m working with and how they work. Bonus: they know me and how I work and what I’m capable of and will work with me to get the best take.
3. Understand As Much As You Can About The Casting Process And Industry. Another reason I have been performing better in my auditions is that I understand more about the casting process and industry. I am more aware of what's in my control and what's not. I understand that the people who brought me in the room already know that I am talented and capable and want me to get the part. This takes so much of the pressure away and I can focus on the work. Since I’m comfortable with the set up from all the practicing in classes and I know who I’m working with and can be in the moment and play. Once I walk out of the room I now know that there are thousands of reasons I could not be cast for the part and most of the time it has nothing to do with my performance. Casting directors have shared that sometimes the scene they read for is cut, or re-written. Sometimes the casting director and director love you but the network decides they want a local hire instead. There’s so much more involved in the decision making that has nothing to do with you. So don’t worry about it. Focus on what you’re doing in the room and the relationships with the people you are working with.
4. You Must Establish And Maintain Relationships With The People You Want To Work With. Once you’ve identified who you want to work with, done your homework, and taken a class with them, you've taken the first step in starting a relationship. It's your job to maintain that relationship. You will be disappointed if you believe that going to one workshop one time will be enough to be remembered. Put effort into getting to know the casting directors and associates and how you could help them do their jobs. So follow up with them the way they say they like to be contacted, thank them, share with them your progress, celebrate their achievements in their work, see them in another class, and invite them to see your work.
5. Find Ways To Keep Acting And Creating Work That Supports Your Goals. Acting and auditioning are two different things and you have to find the balance between practicing the two forms. I learned that if I am too focused on auditioning, my creativity shrinks. Meanwhile; performing in plays, improv shows, short films or web series gives me a chance to exercise my acting muscles. Auditions only allow a small percentage of this work. Doing independent work with colleagues gives you a chance to practice for your larger goals so that when a lead or Guest Star Role is offered to you, you are ready. It also gives you control. You don’t have to depend on someone else to select you to do what you enjoy. You’re not dying for the next audition or opportunity; YOU are creating it.
Marcus Aurelius said, “ You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” I couldn’t agree more. Focus on yourself and your work, follow these steps and put yourself in the driver’s seat of your acting career.
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