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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Producer Tips: the audition

Writer/ Producer John Peaslee has worked in Hollywood for decades. He has produced and/ or written "Working Class," "According to Jim," Courting Alex," "8 Simple Rules," "Just Shoot Me," "Something So Right," Blue Skies," "Coach, and "Anything But Love." We worked together on the first incarnation of the ABC tv show "Blue Skies," which we shot at Universal.  I asked John the following question:

 "What does an actor need to know in order to bring in a successful audition?" 

John Peaslee:

1.If at all possible, read the whole script.  It is going to make your audition much better if you understand the context of the scenes and what kind of show/movie it is.  If this is not possible, it is okay to ask one or two questions in the room, but don't expect the writer/producers to be able to spend a lot of time on it.  (Although writers will usually talk about their scripts and characters forever, but there just isn't a lot of time on a busy day).  

2.KEEP IT SIMPLE!  Trying too hard almost always ends in rejection. 

3. DON'T IMPROVISE!  If you do, it better be a killer line.  

4. Only bring props or dress for a part if it seems absolutely necessary (this is part of keep it simple). 

5.  It is not a crime not to have memorized script, no one is expecting this.  If you are going to try it off book, GET IT RIGHT.   We'd rather see you with pages in your hand than say the lines wrong. 

6. Find out what network or channel the show is for.  It doesn't tell you everything, but it can give you a lot of information about tone and style. 

7. Don't over-think.  Especially in TV, we are going to be trying to see if you are a natural for this part.  If you are, we will end up writing the part closer and closer to who the actor actually is as a person.  We want the two to merge.  That doesn't mean that if you're auditioning for "Dexter" you have to be a serial killer.  But I'm sure they were looking for the actor they got - someone who seemed a little withdrawn but lovable, quiet with a strong sense of right and wrong, sexy and dangerous without being obvious about it.  Most of that you can't fake, you either are or aren't that person.  So follow your instincts and stay true to yourself.

8. If you are given a note in the room, it means they are interested.  You have them on the hook, but they have a question.  Listen to the note and make an adjustment.  I can't tell you how often we give a note and then see no adjustment in the performance.  This is an indication of what it's going to be like to work with you.  Pay attention.  Your changes should be subtle (unless told otherwise) but make the changes.

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