Five of us. Antoine and Rob doing working audits… both were cold reads of Dean the flare gun shooting vacationer being interviewed by the cops. Marco working again on Tyler the jilted actor. Michael working on a self submit for an industrial as a sympathetic/supportive fellow worker.
Cold reads. Meh ! Rob and Antoine had to put up cold reads because this was their working audit. BUT… Cold reading is a minor skill. You’ll rarely see them in professional/union auditions. Mostly they pop up in auditions for plays, student films, and low budget projects. None the less it pays to take a good cold reading class to pick up the tricks and insights into this process. We discussed some issues… Strong opening and closing beats. Getting up off the page. Listening. The main problem with cold reads is that they are word/dialogue centered. In life we listen and have thoughts about what we’ve heard… and then we choose words that express those thoughts. In cold reads we are forced to focus on words first and thoughts are much less important. That lack of thought… and the need to manufacture emotions that match the stage directions… make cold reads a shallow dive.
“Good doesn’t cut it.” Thanks to Rob. And that is right. You’ll never be hired for an OK audition. We aim and they expect set-ready work. The professional standard is the If you can do it in an audition then you can do it on the set. That’s a tough mark but that’s our challenge. Cold reads seldom meet this standard.
Movement and physicality… There are so many negative rules that you will here in the acting world. I just have one rule. Develop a strong sense of what you think the scene is about and go into the CD’s office and show them. That means be confident… not cocky. Trust your instincts and intelligence and show them what you think it should be. And then you have to be flexible enough to take direction and adjustments that a CD might give you… and that was what we asked of you last night.
Antoine… Welcome. This is the beginning of a long trip for you. You’re very early in your training and yet we all saw your talent last night. That’s great. However as we saw last night… work that is just good won’t get an actor a role. Last night we saw that your talent and intelligence allow you to do good work. BUT You need to take classes and learn the acting craft so your work grows beyond good and becomes set ready. Taking scene study, commercials, improv, cold reading, and yes, on-camera classes like this is how you grow your talent. Athletes, musicians, dancers… all performers need to train and work at it constantly and that applies to actors as well. So… It is absolutely necessary that you find a class that feels right to you and get to work. I’m not trying to sell you this class. Your welcome to join us if you want continue in the new year but you saw the work last night and though some of it was good… I don’t think there was any that was set-ready. Learning to act requires dedication and time. It was a pleasure having you in class last night. I hope you’ll join us.
Rob… Welcome. You were right… GOOD work isn’t enough. And it’s almost impossible to do more than GOOD work when you’re doing a cold read. BUT the only way to get better is to go to class or work… on sets, on the stage and in classes. Every actor I know studies or has studied diligently. You were also right about how actors must engage their imagination in order to be in the character’s shoes. I believe that our imagination is trainable and that’s what this class is supposed to do. Every class should challenge and exercise your talent… which I define as the actor’s ability to be in the scene. That’s what we worked on last night… how you could be in the scene. I gave you adjustments and direction that you took quite well. But the place that you were at the end of the night should have been where you started the class. For an audition… I would have literally put in 2 or 3 hours of work on a scene of this length and the improvs I showed you and the adjustments I would have done to beat the path into my body and brain. And then I would have worked with another actor or a coach before an audition. Now I don’t think you will do that for every class but it is a good idea of the level of effort that is necessary to book jobs. Tonight was a cold read and there was much to be learned but if you come in prepared there is even more to learn.
Michael… Last night was an arc of learning for you on this scene. We did lots of takes and they got better as you became more familiar and comfortable with the scene. That’s something we know about your work. You have to be solid on the lines to be comfortable enough to play. I felt there was still some work to be done to loosen you up even more but its reasonable to ask if this industrial is worth it. Your character is the balance to the male chauvinist pig boss who just walked away. There were moments when I saw the sympathetic and playful opposite of the boss that would make your female co-worker feel better. However I don’t think you were as loose and supportive as you could have been. So I posted all your second takes and the slate so you can pick which one you like and I’ll edit then together so you can submit it.
Marco… You were just under prepared… understandably. But your talent still shines through. You have a gift of sounding conversational. That’s huge. Most actor’s strive to be that comfortable with dialogue. That part of your talent will get you work and be the basis of character’s that you can play. But what we are trying to do is push you beyond that kind of approach and find a more thought based and dialogue centered approach. I really think it just a mater of being more solid on lines when you start class. That extra hour that your put in after you first think that you’ve got it is what is necessary. I’m going to send you some other scenes to work on that will challenge you to be more grounded on the script. These will be characters that use language more precisely so you can’t repeat lines as a memory tool. Your ability to sound conversational is a huge part of an actor’s talent and you’re lucky to have it. What we’re trying to do is expand that talent so that you can use your conversational ability on any character or scene. This is a good problem to have. Learning to be conversational is a challenge that most actors struggle with… it comes easily to you. That last take with something in your mouth… it accomplished taking your mind off the words and added some behavior… The impulse to do that is the same one that we use to create life.. moving, sitting, standing in the scene, off camera looks, body shifts. All these ground us into our physical bodies and that’s what the mouth thing did… But it also slurred some diction so I think its something that you should use sparingly, rarely, or not at all.
Good workout guys !