The audition can be somewhat of a mystery. What’s the producer and director looking for? What should you do? And why does the director keep asking for changes to a perfectly delivered scene? Here are the top things you need to be aware of to nail the audition and maximize your chances of getting the part.
The foundation of acting is the voice. The voice determines who the character is – her education, social status, geographic origin, and most importantly, the voice conveys the character’s emotional state. The significance of the voice can be heard on radio shows, for instance, on NPR, when someone’s being interviewed. In an instant, you’re able to get a feel for who the person is, how they’re feeling, and what they want – and we’re able to tell these things without ever having seen the person. So during your audition, your greatest focus should be on your voice. Focus on elements such as: cadence (speed), where you put your pauses, and musicality (peaks and valleys).
During the audition, the director will ask you to deliver a scene again, but with changes (adjustments) to certain aspects of your performance. When you repeat the scene, try your hardest to make the changes the director requested. Even if you miss by a country mile, the fact that you made the attempt shows that you’re willing to listen to the director, and that you have the self awareness to modify your acting. If your repeat performances are identical to your first, it shows that either you’re unable or unwilling to modify your acting. Either way, it demonstrates that you’re not an “actor”, and will likely disqualify you from the role.
During the audition, you can hold the side in your hand, but it’s only there as backup. Make sure that you have your lines memorized.
Dress for the Part
Conventional wisdom states that the producers and director decide whether you get the part the moment you walk in the room, and before you perform your scenes. That’s not quite right. While your look factors into the decision, it’s much more about how you embody the character, and demonstrate that you can project the persona of the character. How you look is only one aspect of that, and while it’s only an aspect, looking the part can only help.
Attitudes are contagious. If you appear to be happy to be at the audition, you’ll make the director and producers happy as well, and that can only be a good thing.
There are so many no-shows and late arrivals, that your prompt appearance at the designated time will automatically set you apart from most of the other actors. As Woody Allen said, 80% of success is showing up. We couldn’t agree more!
If you’re not selected for the role, it’s not a reflection of your talent or acting ability. It’s simply the degree of alignment between your acting style and the particular character you were auditioning for.
With an understated yet palpable sense of destiny, Ervin Peter, host of the Starfall Acting Contest, announced “It’s time to move to Round Two.” Inaugurated in October of 2015, 2LJ Productions launched an acting contest, the first of its kind, with the aim of identifying a new star to play the lead in the upcoming feature drama Starfall.
“In the second round, we’ll find out how a given actress embodies her character”, says Ervin. It’s the next step in finding the talent needed to play the key roles in the female-centric drama. When asked why he chose to create a story that centers around women, Ervin remarks “We have a great deal of talent on the men’s side – DiCaprio, Downey, Bale, and others, but on the women’s side, talent of that caliber is far more rare, and I’d like to see women reach parity with men in this, and every other regard.”
In the first round, aspiring actresses were asked to perform three monologues from classic stage plays. Of those, the actresses displaying the greatest talent and potential to bring out the particular personality traits of the characters in Starfall were selected to advance to the second round. “It’s difficult to get a feel for an actor from a headshot alone,” says Ervin, the starting point for most castings, “and when each actor has their own unique reel, it’s difficult to compare them against each other, which is why we chose to have each actor perform the same three monologues in the first round – it allows us to do an apples to apples comparison between all actors.”
In the second round, the selected actresses will be reading lines from “Starfall” in a traditional audition type setting. “But what will make this experience unique for the audience,” says Ervin, “is that we’ll be filming the behind-the-scenes goings on. Everyone will get to see the deliberations that go on in the casting room after an actor steps out the door.” Will it be like the Kardashians reality show? “Not a chance,” says Ervin, “our product will be interesting for all the right reasons, and we’re going to keep things very positive.”
When asked what qualities he’s looking for, Ervin says “We’re searching for that special actress who has the type of charisma that draws you to her like gravity. We’re looking for someone who feels beautiful, and who has ultimate confidence in her mind an body.” In other words, someone with the talent and attributes to be Hollywood’s next great leading lady. “If we can give the world the next Meryl Streep or the next Jennifer Lawrence,” says Ervin, “then my wildest expectations for this contest will have been exceeded.”
Following the conclusion of the second round, the top candidates will advance to the third and final round, which will be a live audition in which the actresses will be acting out scenes from Starfall alongside other actors. “We’re going to be very thorough, because we have high expectations of the actors, and high expectations for ourselves, as well as for the production.”
“I hope that our new casting process will shake things up,” says Ervin, “all processes evolve and improve over time, and there’s no reason for the process whereby actors are selected for roles should be any different.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Starfall is a unique story that deals with subject matter that doesn’t get a great deal of attention in film or television, despite the fact that we’re all fascinated by it. This apparent contradiction is one of the areas that Starfall will explore, and is representative of the type of entertainment that 2LJ Productions specializes in – stories that provoke, challenge, and entertain. And because the subject matter is so different, the existing acting community and traditional casting methodologies employed today are not geared toward identifying the type of talent that will be needed to play the lead in the story. And so we’ve elected to employ a new and radically different casting method to find the right lead – an acting contest, which will be able to reach all aspiring and established actresses alike across the US and Canada. The advantage of the contest, is that it will be able to reach talent that is not already “plugged in” to the traditional casting ecosystem.
Submitting an Entry:
In order to submit an entry to the Starfall Acting Contest, you’ll need to do a self-recording of three monologues, which we’ve pre-selected. The three monologues are from classic stage plays (Three Sisters, A Doll’s House, and Miss Julie) and are available on our Facebook page. You’ll also need to upload two photos – one headshot and one body shot, and answer two questions regarding your comfort level with certain types of scenes. In order to be eligible to win the grand prize, you’ll need to be a resident of the US or Canada, and be 18 years of age or older. Actresses not meeting this criteria can still submit an entry, but will be considered for supporting roles in Starfall.
At the end of Round 1, twenty four finalists will be chosen to advance to the second round. The criteria used to select the actresses who advance to the second round are as follows:
Emotional range as displayed in your monologues.
Your personal charisma.
How you answer our questions regarding your comfort level with certain types of scenes.
The second round will consist of a live Skype audition, in which the actress will be reading scenes from Starfall. This round will start with the top twenty four contestants from Round 1. If you are selected, we will provide you with sides from Starfall, which you’ll be able to use to rehearse prior to the audition.
At the end of Round 2, eight finalists will be chosen to advance to the third and final round. The criteria used to select the actresses who advance to the third round are as follows:
The suitability of your acting style for the lead in Starfall.
Your comfort level with the subject matter of Starfall.
The third round will consist of an in-person callback in which contestants will be acting scenes from Starfall.
At the end of Round 3, one actress will be selected as the contest winner. The criteria used to select the winning actress are as follows:
Suitability of your acting style for the lead in Starfall.
How you interact with other actors in the final audition scenes.
The winning actress will be awarded a grand prize of $50,000 and the opportunity to negotiate a contract for the lead role of “Kendall” in Starfall.
The name of the winner will be announced on 2LJP’s website (www.2ljproductions.com) by December 31, 2016. If the winner is later disqualified for any reason, 2LJP will choose a replacement winner at its sole discretion.
In order to take a great photo, you don’t need to go to a professional. As long as you understand the fundamentals of your backdrop, lighting, facial expression, attire, and hair and makeup, you’ll be able to take a great photo!
The very first step in taking a great headshot, is to do your research and take a look at examples of several headshots, perhaps even of well known actors whose work you admire. When you find one you like, think about each of the elements in the photo: the backdrop, the lighting, facial expression, clothing, and hair and makeup. Once you’ve noted all of these aspects, you’ll be able to emulate them in your photo. There are times when reinventing the wheel is effective, and there are times when emulating the best of what’s come before is best. A headshot falls into the latter category!
The right backdrop will make your face stand out.
A simple monochrome (one color) backdrop is ideal.
Avoid using a busy background as a backdrop. The simpler your backdrop, the better.
Avoid standing in front of a window or other bright light source. Doing so will obscure your face in the photo.
Using the right light will make all the difference.
Find a soft, even source of light for your photo. When shooting indoors, you can use the natural light from a window, which creates soft highlights and shadows on your face.
Avoid bright lights, which will make you squint, and will produce harsh shadows on your face.
When shooting indoors, avoid fluorescent/neon light. Incandescent light is best, or a combination of natural and incandescent light.
How To Be Photogenic
Your expression will draw us in.
Your facial expression is the single most important element of your headshot. Feel free to use whichever facial expression you like, however, keep in mind that because emotions are contagious, if you look like you’re having a good time, we’ll be drawn to your picture.
While we may think that we have a “good side” and a “bad side”, in reality, these are perceptions in our own minds that are not evident to others. As long as we can see you, you’re showing your “good side”!
Wear a neutral colored dress or shirt. V-necks accentuate the neckline and work well. Heavy patterns or colors may be distracting.
Hair & Makeup
Light makeup can be used.
- Ladies should do their hair and makeup as they would if going out for a casual-to-upscale event. In other words, it shouldn’t be overly heavy or glamorized.
- For ladies, focusing on light makeup to accentuate the eyes will be effective, as your eyes will be the most prominent feature in your photo.
- Men with a heavy “5 o’clock shadow” area, even after shaving, should use some light foundation or concealer to cover it up.
These days, any camera will do, but a good tripod will work wonders.
- Given advances in digital photography technology, almost any camera or phone will work well. There’s no advantage to using professional equipment.
- If you don’t want to take the photo yourself, you can ask a friend to help you with your photo session.
- If taking the photo yourself, you’ll need a tripod (or homemade equivalent), and you’ll want to set your timer, so that you can get into position prior to the photo being taken.
After you take a few photos, take a look at them and ask yourself, “do I like it?” and “is this the best I can do?” If the answer is “yes”, you’re done. But if it’s “no”, then make adjustments to the items we’ve covered above, and try again!
Coming across as natural is one of the highest ideals that an actor can aspire to – the ability to look like you’re not trying, even though you are. Naturalism is about achieving the effortlessness of everyday speech, while being conscious of what’s being said, and how. It’s something that’s easily achieved once you’re aware of it!
The audition process consists of recording three monologues, and uploading them to the contest website. The three monologues are from classic stage plays, and can be found in the “Photos” section of our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/2LJProductions You can record these monologues using your computer’s webcam, or your smartphone’s camera, or you can ask someone to help you record the videos for you using a camera.
Guidelines for recording your monologues can be viewed in the following instructional video:
How to Give a Natural Performance
Don’t get into the character’s “head”. Instead, get into your head, and think about how you would behave if you were in the same situation as the character.
You can eliminate self-consciousness by talking into the camera for a few minutes about something that you’re passionate about – a pet, a new pair of shoes, or an upcoming vacation!
Wear clothing that you feel comfortable in.
After each take, review the video and ask yourself the question: “is this the best that I can do?” If the answer is “no”, do another take.
Don’t feel that it’s necessary to move around in the space, or to gesture. If you find yourself moving or gesturing, do another take, and put the energy and effort from the movement and gestures into your facial expression and voice.
While preparing, review each line and be able to answer the question: “What is the emotional state of the character while she’s delivering this line?” Then, think about how you wish to convey that emotion through facial expression, and voice.
Running words and sentences together will seem unnatural – feel free to put pauses between words and sentences, as long as they seem natural to you.
Don’t feel that it’s necessary to do any accents or to speak with an affectation – doing so will only distract you.
The choice of which emotions you wish to convey is yours. If you’re unsure, use the following as a guide:
Three Sisters: happiness, realization
A Doll’s House: sadness, disillusionment, hurt, helplessness
Miss Julie: anger
In our weekly spotlights, we highlight actresses who deliver compelling performances that reflect one or more of the acting principles we consider to be important. Feel free to view them for tips and tricks! The following is our spotlight from April 5, featuring the very talented Clarissa Thibeaux:
2LJ Productions is a newly formed independent film production company with a focus on dramas that provoke, enlighten, and challenge. With several films on its slate ranging from historic epics to sci-fi spectacles, to contemporary dramas, 2LJ Productions is poised to capture the imagination of the film-going audience. The first of 2LJ Production’s films to go into development, will be Starfall.
What is Starfall?
Starfall is a feature drama about a mother struggling to raise her young daughter in a world that wants nothing to do with her, even as it hungrily devours her every move. At its core, Starfall is about destiny, and about what it takes to pursue it. It deals with subject matter that doesn’t receive a great deal of attention despite the fact that everyone’s fascinated by it. The subject matter is daring, but according to Ervin Peter, “if it’s not daring, then it’s not worth doing.” And, as a result, Starfall will require a leading lady who isn’t afraid to be bold.
How Are We Searching for the Lead in Starfall?
Starfall will require a new type of actress to play the lead – perhaps unlike anyone we’ve ever seen before. As a result, we’ve determined that conventional casting methods will not be enough to find the talent we’re looking for, and so we’ve decided to hold an acting contest to find our leading lady. The contest will allow us to reach talent that we wouldn’t be able to find through conventional casting methods, and, it allows us to reach out to all aspiring actresses across the US and Canada.
Who Are We Looking For?
We’re looking for an aspiring or established actress who has a self confidence that shines through in her speech, body language and acting spirit. Beyond these elements, any background is fine – with or without acting experience, with or without training, and either union or non-union. By far, the most important quality we’re looking for, is a love for the craft of acting, and a willingness to explore a daring and challenging role!
How Can I Enter the Contest?
The contest is open to any aspiring or established actress in the US and Canada, 18 and older.
You’ll need to do a self-recorded video of three monologues. The monologues are provided on our Facebook page, Facebook.com/2LJProductions. The monologues are from three classic stage plays: Three Sisters, A Doll’s House, and Miss Julie. And, if you don’t already have them, you’ll need to take a headshot and a body shot.
Once you have all your materials, you can register at www.2ljproductions.com, at which point you’ll be emailed a password. You’ll then be able to log in, and upload your three videos and two photos, and you’re done!
What Are the Guidelines for the Monologue Videos?
What will differentiate you from all the other actresses, is your performance in the three monologues. In order to give a strong performance, you’ll want to consider the following –
Choose an emotion for each of the monologues.
Decide on how you wish to convey that emotion through voice and facial expression.
Each of the monologues should appear as though it’s being delivered by a different character. In other words, the monologues shouldn’t be delivered with the same emotion, energy, or feeling.
Each of your performances should seem natural, and not forced or artificial. In other words, it’s important to neither over nor under-act.
The choice of whether to memorize each monologue is up to you – our primary focus is on your emotional range.
Some additional tips:
The recording should be free of distracting sounds, and your face should be clearly visible.
You can do the recording using your computer’s webcam, or smartphone camera, or you can ask someone to help you record your video using a camera.
There’s no need to edit or polish your video using any post production processing.
What is the Selection Method?
The contest will consist of three rounds –
Round 1 – Contestants upload three monologue videos and two photos.
Round 2 – The top contestants from the first round will be selected to advance to the second round, in which each actress will be reading dialogue from Starfall during a live web audition (e.g. Skype, Facetime, etc.).
Round 3 – The top contestants from the second round will be selected to advance to the third and final round, in which each actress will be performing scenes from Starfall during an in-person audition.
What Prize will the Winner Receive?
The winner will receive a cash prize of $50,000, and, in addition, will be offered the lead role in Starfall.
How Can I Follow the Latest Developments on the Contest and 2LJ Productions?
Updates on both the contest, and on the Starfall trailer, which was shot during the summer of 2015, will be posted to 2LJ Production’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Each week, Ervin will select one or more contestants who’s performances stand out, and will feature them in a spotlight video. We’ll also be posting photos, news, and updates on the Starfall trailer!