Tag Archives: On Camera Audition Class

On Camera Audition Class-Week 4

31 May

Morman Boling Casting ClassThis is a continuation from Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3.

It was the final week of class. We were all given scenes from films this time to prepare (as opposed to TV as we had last week). I worked on it through the weekend, trying different ways and memorizing the lines. Because it was the last class, when we did our scenes in class we worked through notes and adjustments in more detail while we auditioned. I felt more comfortable doing this scene than I had previous scenes in class and therefore more confident.

After we all did our scenes Meg and Sunny talked about networking. As actors we are told that part of our job is meeting people and making connections. So we attend film premieres, networking events, classes, plays, and anything else that can connect us with people in the industry. It also means following up with people we meet. Sending postcards and thank you cards. Keeping people updated with what you’re doing. Book something? Send a postcard-it’s great news! In a show? Send a postcard! Ah, but make sure the postcard has all the right information!

  • Your Name (yes, postcards have been sent without a name, just a picture)
  • Contact Information (your email if you’re unrepresented or your agent/manager’s)
  • Show Information (date(s) of show, times, address (if theatre))
  • And don’t put important information at the bottom of the postcard, it might be covered by the post office’s bar code
The front of one of my postcards

The front of one of my postcards

So if you have a picture (or 2 or 3) on one side, make sure there’s a place on the backside to put your message. If you’re doing a mass mailing use a great shortcut and print labels with your message. You don’t want to get a hand cramp writing out the same message 100 times (or more). I like to do that and then sign my name. And if I know the casting person sometimes I’ll add something more personal to them.

But where to get all those addresses for casting you ask? Well the best place is CastingAbout.com. It’s an online directory of all the casting directors and their current projects and addresses. It’s updated constantly so you can be sure the addresses are correct. You can select whomever you wish and search multiple ways: dramas, comedies, films, shooting, on hiatus, etc. The addresses are downloadable as address labels so all you have to do is print and then put them on your postcards, add postage and send them out! Be careful though, if you know the casting person, or they were the ones who cast you on what you’re announcing, either don’t send them a postcard or make sure it’s personal.

Finally, if you happen to meet a casting director you’ve met before don’t be afraid to say hi. But at the same time, don’t feel like you can only talk about your current acting life. If the question is asked, “How are you doing?” it’s about life in general. Did you just come back from vacation? Just move to a new place? Talk about that. CDs are people too and when you randomly run into them don’t feel like you have to “be on”, you’re just a person too.

Meg and Sunny opened it up to any questions we might have. Anything at all. It was asked how the submissions look when they come in and rather than describe it, they showed us. Those submissions who have a video attached are on the first pages. The picture that our representation chose (or we chose if we submitted from Actors Access) is what shows up with the first part of any notes left right below. Casting can click on each person and see their resume, other photos and video on our profile. So no matter what video clip you attach to your submission, casting can look at all video you have on your profile.

I had a great time in this class and I highly recommend it to all actors. Meg and Sunny were great and put us all at ease. It never felt like they didn’t want to be there, you could tell they were enjoying it as much as we were. I hope they decide to do another class with different topics covered, I’d sign up in a heart beat!

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On Camera Audition Class-Week 3

24 May

Tonight was Week 3 of class, a continuation from Week 1 and Week 2. During the week we had to self-tape an audition and then also prepare a large audition for television to do in class. The self-tape had to be in by Monday at 7pm so on Sunday morning my roommate Janelle and I set up my camera and lighting, ran through the scene a couple of times, then filmed a couple takes. I picked the best one, cut it together with my slate, and sent it off that night after getting home from work and “Trainspotting”.

So let’s talk a little about self-taped auditions. With the advance in technology, self-tapes are becoming more and more common. With other states offering tax incentives for film and television productions, we have what’s called a “local hire”, which means a person has a place to live in that city. Popular locations include Atlanta, New York City, Chicago and now New Orleans. You have to have an address in that city (for tax purposes), pay for your transportation, and put yourself up in that city to work as a local hire. So if you can be a “local hire” you may be asked to put yourself on tape for the local casting directors, producers, director. There’s a right way and there’s a wrong way.

Things to do:

  • Proper Lighting (be sure you can see both sides of your face)
  • Correct Frame (a bust shot, and about the size of a golf ball above your head)
  • Correct Eye Line (even with the camera, but just to the right or left)
  • Live Reader (ie. don’t read through the lines like a monologue, or read the other part!)

Things NOT to do:

  • Don’t read the lines of the other character yourself (or pre-record them)
  • Don’t wear “busy” clothes, ie. stripes, flowers, lots of words
  • Don’t send a HUGE file. Make it easy for casting to download it

The most important thing to remember is to read ALL of the instructions that casting sends. When they ask for a full body slate with profiles, then make sure it’s a FULL body slate, not just your half your body. Here’s my slate. We then cut, reset the camera with the proper framing (and better light since it was closer), and shot the scene. I downloaded them to my computer and cut the two clips together, which is a lot easier than it sounds.

This is what Live Movie Maker looks like when you first open the program.

This is what Live Movie Maker looks like when you first open the program.

I have a Dell, and therefore I use Windows. I’ve always been a Windows girl so I can’t give tips on how to use iMovie, but I here it is also super easy. I used Windows Live Movie Maker. Just click “Add Videos and Photos” on your toolbar or where it says “Click Here to Browse for Videos and Photos”. Choose the files you want, then drag them and put them in the correct order. You will see in the screenshot below that each file has a “film strip” image at the beginning and end. Click on the clip you want to move, then drag to the right position.

After you've added the clips but before you've moved them around.

After you’ve added the clips but before you’ve moved them around.

Hit play to make sure it’s how you want it to look, then click Save and voila! you have just cut together two clips! Because it saves it as a .wmv file, you will need to convert it to a mp4 file. Just Google “convert video files” and many choices will pop up. Choose the one you like and follow their directions. Now you have a file that anyone can watch, regardless if they have a PC or a Mac.

I was very excited that Meg and Sunny had us do a self-tape audition. While I have done a few in the past, I’ve never been thrilled about doing them. But doing one for class and then getting feedback and talking about the dos and don’ts was really helpful. I feel more prepared should I have to do another self-tape, and I think my roommate will too, since this was her first time helping me. So don’t fight the popularity of self-tapes, they are becoming more and more common and we need to embrace them. So cheers! Can’t wait for Week 4!

On Camera Audition Class-Week 2

16 May

Last Friday Meg and Sunny sent us our scenes. They had told us last week that they would be short scenes and that we’d be split into small groups and each group would have a different scene. Then we’d all take part in a mock audition and act as different people in the room: producers, directors etc. The scene my group got was from the movie “Loveless in Los Angeles”, a comedy from a few years ago that was a straight to DVD release. It was a short scene, just under a page so over the weekend I made my choices and memorized the scene. I felt I was ready for class on Tuesday.

My group ended up going last, so we watched as the first two groups did their scenes and took our own notes as though we were producers and directors. At the end of each group we discussed each person individually and then voted on if we would cast someone we saw or keep looking. It was interesting to hear what some people saw and what bugged people. For me I always noticed how a person entered and exited the room. It was something that I was taught at Lesly Kahn last year and it has really stuck with me. I try to be very conscious of how I enter and leave, especially how I leave, as that’s literally the last thing they’ll have from me.

Watching other people audition is also enlightening as an actor. You can see what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes actors (and I’ve been guilty of this) end the scene before it’s actually done. Stay in the moment until the casting person says thank you or breaks the silence. As Meg and Sunny said, “Let us enjoy the moment and what just happened.” It can be a hard thing to do because as an actors we can feel that the silence is a very long time, when actually it’s a very short time. We have to remember to let casting end the scene, not us.

Next week we will be preparing two auditions: one that we will self tape by Monday night and the other one for Tuesday night class. Meg and Sunny gave great tips to keep in mind when self-taping. Some of the big ones: use a real person as your reader and camera operator, make sure the lighting is flattering, and test the file by sending to yourself before sending to casting so that it still works. Self-taped auditions are becoming more and more common in our current electronic age. And if you can be a local hire in another state you may be asked to put yourself on tape for the local casting director. Bottom line, don’t fight self-taping, embrace it. And I am ready to!

After our mock auditions were done, we talked about dos and don’ts in the audition room. Not giving everything away here, but here are some of my favorites. Big thing to remember, it’s OK to ask questions! It’s not a test when casting asks if you have any, they legitimately want to help you if you need clarification. Keep your eye line to the reader. If there are other characters you talk to, make their eye line either to the same reader or to the other side of the camera, don’t put them to the side of you or behind you. It’s also okay to use a prop, like your cell phone or a water bottle if need be. Don’t be afraid to do the action listed in the script, especially if that’s a majority (or all) that is in the sides. And finally, don’t be afraid to go all out. Just bring it, it’s your one chance to make an impression, so make one. Until next week…

On Camera Audition Class-Week 1

9 May

I started a new acting class Tuesday night and I’m already stoked. It’s with Casting Directors Meg Morman and Sunny Boling and it is a 4 week, on camera audition class. In the flyer that came in my inbox at the beginning of April said, “A 4 week intensive designed to you give you the skill and confidence needed to book the job!” It was exactly what I was looking for and for the right price-$175! (yes, that’s a good price for an acting class. No one ever said acting classes were cheap.) Once I knew my May schedule was clear, I emailed to sign up and got a confirmation from Meg that I was in.

Morman Boling Casting Class

Last week Meg and Sunny sent us an email with instructions for the first class. They asked us to prepare a short scene (about 2 pages) that was a character that we would easily be cast as.  I decided to go with a scene I had auditioned for a few months back. It was a scene from the Disney show “Jessie” and was a lot of fun. I also love comedy and feel more comfortable with it than drama. With all the work I had done on it way back when, it all came back to me as I started prepping for class.

Also in the email was a short questionnaire that Meg and Sunny asked us to fill out. It was six questions that was meant to help Meg and Sunny learn more about ourselves and how we see ourselves as actors. I actually had trouble with a couple of the questions, and in full disclosure, here are my answers…

1. Why are you taking this class?

I want to work on my audition technique and I haven’t been able to take a class since last fall.

2. What do you hope to improve or work on in class?

I want to improve my audition technique and be more comfortable in the audition room.

3. What are your audition strengths?

Honestly, I’m not sure.

4. What are your audition weaknesses?

I think I talk too loud because of my theatre background

5. What do you like and dislike about auditioning?

I love just getting to act. I don’t like the speed of some auditions or when the CD isn’t friendly.

6. What type of roles you are most obviously cast as?

Sweet natured young moms/wives. The upbeat/ditzy girl. In theatre I get cast slightly different, usually sarcastic, opinionated girl.

The first night was great. First, the class is small, 9 actors, which is perfect! I once took a class that had so many actors I felt that the teacher had no idea who any of us were. Anyway, we auditioned with our chosen scenes with Sunny and Meg (which were recorded and sent to us via email), then they talked with the whole class about the audition process, starting from the beginning. What to do when you get an audition (i.e. RESEARCH the show and the people involved!) and then we went over wardrobe. (i.e. NEVER wear scrubs to a theatrical audition unless instructed. If you’re going in for a doctor, wear something professional.) Each week they will be adding another element to the audition process. In addition to prepping in person auditions, we will also be learning how to (properly) self-tape, which I’m extra excited about!

Meg and Sunny were both so welcoming and very frank about what to do and not to do at an audition. They were relaxed themselves, which made me feel relaxed and more open to everything they said. Did you know that some people are starting to use their iPads and other electronic devices in audition rooms? It might seem like a smart idea, no rustling of pages, less wasted paper, but actually it’s not. You can be scrolling through and go way past where you are, your phone might ring or you could get a text message, or-heaven forbid-Pandora starts playing! Yikes! So remember to just print the pages yourself (never assume casting will have pages at the audition) and use them in the room. It’s okay to have them with you, it is an audition and no one expects you to be 100% off book. And if they redirect you in the room be confident enough to know that it’s okay if you look at the sides before starting again. This is your time to do your thing, don’t be afraid to take another glance at the lines.

I find out on Friday what my scene will be for Tuesday’s class. Can’t wait for the next class and to share more with you!

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