• Ray Watters

In my last blog, I covered the importance of preparation and learning your lines. I was covering preparation both in auditions and on the set; however, I want to be more specific in this blog.

I want to address just the cold read audition.

For some actors, the words “cold read” conjures up nightmarish thoughts of dread. However, as strange as it may sound, I actually enjoy the experience. And…no, I am not a masochist. I actually find the audition cold read to be an opportunity to show off my acting chops.

I have experienced a number of cold reads and have found a process that works for me…a process that others have successfully used as well.

Always…always show at your audition at least 20 minutes in advance of your scheduled time, unless instructions state different (Remember…showing up at your scheduled time is considered late!). When you sign in, you will usually be given that part of the script (sides) to look at prior to your audition. Take that time to read over your sides and highlight your lines.

Determine who your character is and what is he trying to accomplish. What are his wants…his needs? What is blocking him from getting what he wants? Make a choice on how you will portray the character.

Do not try to memorize the sides in that short time. In memorizing your lines, you will be more concerned about remembering your lines rather than developing the character. However, do memorize the first and last line. That is important! When you deliver that first line, eye contact with the reader is essential, as is your reaction to the reader’s response. Looking at your script while the reader is responding may result in you not getting a callback. Having your head in the script the entire time is a guarantee of not getting a callback.

Before you give your first line, place your thumb on your second line. That way, after the reader has responded with their line, you can quickly glance at your line. With some practice, you will learn to quickly glance at your line and give that line while looking directly at the reader. I cannot stress enough the importance of having eye contact with the reader!

Earlier I mentioned making choices on how to portray the character. You may think this would be difficult because you haven’t had access to the script to learn more about the story and the character…and you would be right! This is where you have the opportunity to show off your Oscar winning talent!

Make a choice on how you think the character should be portrayed and go for it! If you give a generic performance because you are afraid you will play it wrong, you will probably not get the booking. Take a chance…take risks!

Possibly your choice on how the character is portrayed will be totally wrong. It may be opposite of who the character is supposed to be…and that’s OK! The Director may tell you to do it a different way. This is your opportunity to show your ability to follow directions and show the Director how professional you will be on set and be able to take direction.

Rather than dreading the cold read audition, consider it an opportunity to show your acting ability, which includes your ability to take direction.

Have fun!

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I’ve heard all too often from fellow actors (and have experienced myself) that there are people in your life you have considered friends…until you became successful in your craft. These people changed from “friend” to the latest word du jour…“hater”…almost overnight. It happens. These people are what former HBO Casting Director, Amy Jo Berman (see link below) refers to as “Dream Stealers” or “Energy Vampires.” If this has happened to you, read on.

Many of us have worked hard through the years to train in our craft. We have worked free just to build our resume. We have spent considerable time and money in training. We understand rejection after having driven many miles to many auditions, only to hear nothing, except for that rare call back. In the beginning, our experience on a film set is one of the passing pedestrian on the street, or the diner in a restaurant. After some time, however, things start happening and we see some success and may eventually get that big break. While it may have been dumb luck for a very small number of actors, the majority of us realize the time and work it took to finally get those good roles. Most, but not all of your friends will applaud your success. Many do not realize that experienced actors have "paid their dues" as extras on film sets before becoming professional. I know I had to do that and, while no longer taking extra or non-paid roles, realize that was valuable experience.

Unfortunately, there will still be the dream stealers…the energy vampires who are jealous of your success. There will be people who will try to put you down and make you feel “less than.” These are the people who feel bad about themselves and the only way they can build themselves up is to put you down. You also may experience those who were once friends and have stopped communicating with you. You may want to consider that it is time to just walk away from these people. For me, walking away from the haters was the best thing I could do.

For the people who are truly happy for your success, treat them like gold! I have many of those people in my life!

We know what it took to get where we are.

Check out the link below.


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Many times, friends and acquaintances have asked how to get into the acting business.Some think all they need do is have a photo, put themselves out to be discovered, and voila…they’re on screen! Well, for some people, that can work if your desire is to be a background actor.

Film and television rely on people to be in the background. Look at any film or TV show and you will see people walking on the streets, in restaurants, or perhaps working in an office. These people are essential to the film since having no background activity would look unnatural. The people you see are known as Extras, or Background Artists. While they are essential to the production, being an Extra requires no training and anyone can sign up to a service that casts Extras. Examples include Central Casting in Los Angeles, Legacy Casting in Dallas, Third Coast Casting in Austin, or Extras Casting in Atlanta, just to name a few. If you want to get into the business of acting, being an extra is a great way to start. You not only make money, but you get to experience what happens on a film or TV set. Many people enjoy being an extra, love hanging around celebrities and have done well financially and choose to continue in this pursuit, especially if they have managed some union work as an extra and have joined SAG/AFTRA, the performers union. Do understand that in the hierarchy of the set, the Extra is at the very low end and some times not treated very well.

However, if you really want to pursue the craft of acting, there is work to be done. First, if you are working as an extra and have reached the point of being eligible to join SAG/AFTRA, I would highly recommend against it.Gaining experience is very important.There are many student and non-union films that look for aspiring actors.Working in these projects can build your resumé and give you valuable experience.If you were a member of a performer’s union, you would not be able to work any non-union project, So…if you want to join the union, wait until you gain experience.

Finding a good headshot photographer is a must! You will need theatrical and commercial headshots. You can look online and on Facebook for recommendations.

I cannot emphasize enough the value of training.If you have no formal college training in theater, look for acting classes in your locale.There are many great acting coaches in several cities, but I would strongly suggest doing some research first.Look for recommendations online. Training never stops if you want to be professional. Professional actors should "keep the instrument tuned" by attending ongoing acting classes. Many agencies make this a requirement.

When you get to the point of having training and experience and feel it is time to look for a talent agent…be very very careful.There is a plethora of dishonest folks out there who will promise you fame and fortune and be very happy to part you with your money.Rule of thumb…if they want money…run away! There are “talent agencies” who will tell you that you have tremendous potential and want you to take their classes and use their photographers for headshots.They will happily take thousands of dollars from you and give you nothing but promises.

Reputable talent agencies do not charge for representing actors.They make their money by taking a percentage of your earnings.Typically, talent agents will take ten percent of your earnings in union jobs and twenty percent for non-union jobs. It is not easy to get representation since talent agencies choose their clients carefully.They want to be sure the actor is serious in the profession and continues to improve their craft through training.They don't make money unless you book and you don't book unless you're serious about your craft.Talent agencies have websites that explain how to submit. Be sure you have current, professional headshots and that your resumé is up-to-date before submitting.

You can, if you choose, skip getting an agent and self-submit. There is Actors Access and Casting Networks (you should have both, even with an agent), however most large roles go straight to agents. If you're serious about acting as a career, you should seek representation. That's a separate blog.

There is nothing I would rather do as a vocation other than acting. Being on a film set is a total joy for me. But it is hard work that many times require long hours on set with a lot of time spent waiting and running your lines for the next scene. As an example, one episode of a TV series normally takes about eight days to complete and the hours each day can be very long.

I love every minute of it!

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