Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Listen up

I've never been a great listener, but I work on it all the time. I'm always getting ahead of what people are saying, anticipating what I think they'll say instead of just shutting up and really listening to what they actually say. And, like Vincent Vega, sometimes I have to consciously make myself listen instead of waiting and thinking about the next thing I'm going to say.

But listening to instructions is not really a problem. That's definitely information I want to know. I'm reminded this week that many people just don't listen.

I've had a streak of auditions -- four already this week -- and either I'm super advanced at this point or they're bringing in a lot of new people. In one audition, it was a two-person scene -- me and an actress. They brought everybody in beforehand and walked us through the blocking. She had about 5 or 6 things to do. Walk over here, pick something up, walk over there, pick something else up, check herself in the mirror, make a face at me, say a line, get out a phone, etc.

I suppose when you list it all out like that it might sound like a lot. But when you've got a grasp of the big picture, the actual story the scene is telling (which, of course, we get the day before), it should come together pretty logically. But of the half-dozen things she had to do, she did maybe two of them. And for good measure, she did a couple of the things that were assigned to me. Then after she was coached on everything she did wrong, she managed to get an extra thing or two right but a couple of others wrong.

Remarkably, I got a callback. Sometimes it's really hard when your scene partner sucks. I mean, we had almost zero interaction and chemistry, but apparently they saw that I was trying.

Another audition was interview style. They ask random questions and are simply looking for how we interact, what our facial expressions and body language are like, our energy, etc. They told us that one question might be, "Who would you have lunch with?" And they told us not to pick an actor because, duh, they know we're actors interested in acting -- they want to see another side of us.

I had a hard time thinking of what non-actor I'd want to lunch with. And I even ruled out film directors and screenwriters as being a little too close to what they weren't looking for. They ended up asking me something else. But one of the other actors in the room got the lunch question. Her reply? Morgan Freeman. Oy.

I'm wondering if the economy is causing agents to register a bunch of new, untested people. Because one of the casting directors in town just sent out a terse note about some of the sloppy, unprofessional conduct they're seeing.

And, of course, now I'm thinking of how much I probably sucked when I started. Which I did. But I got better. Eventually.

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