• Melonie Mack

I'm Afraid to Ask....

So, you walk into the audition room, do your read for the casting director/director, then get some *surprise, surprise*....DIRECTION!

Now what? Well, most actors want to be liked, so there is a lot of agreeing and head nodding going on in the room when direction is given. "Yep, got it!" " Uh, huh, yep, yep, okay okay, yep" "Sure thing! Yup!"

Does this sound familiar?

On the one hand, I understand why actors do this, but on the other hand it doesn't help you get the job because usually you don't "got it".What winds up happening is that instead of clarifying the direction with the director/casting director so you really do "got it", you end up assuming they have the same idea of the direction you do. For example, I may say to an actor during a casting session, "really connect with who you're talking to, be softer." The actor may assume "softer means making their voice quieter, yet I mean kinder, gentler. So, the actor makes the adjust in their head without clarifying and lo and behold we have the same way, just barely audible.

Then you walk out of the room and I'm sitting there like "Man, I really wish she could have just taken that direction. Next!"

The thing is, you could have taken that direction, but you just didn't clarify it with me. Sometimes I give direction and then when you clarify, I think "oh, no, no, no that's not what I meant. I meant do it like this..." If you don't quite understand the direction or are even a teeny tiny bit confused, ASK! Please! Do us both a favor and at least REPEAT THE DIRECTION OUT LOUD so your brain gets it! You have a lot going on when you are in the room, so give yourself a second to actually hear what you're repeating, then take a look at copy (because you always have it with you in the room) and finally implement that direction!

Too often, on the casting side, we mean one thing by our direction, but without clarification, you interpret a completely different way.

Here's an example from a coaching I recently had.

Said actor had an episodic audition and was given the direction to be angrier in her scene where she has a fight with her school principal. During our coaching, she was able to do that with ease. However, after the audition I receive an email from her saying, "she totally bombed!" So now I'm wondering what the heck happened and if she clarified what the director meant by "angrier": meaning did she happen to pull the first line from her sides and give it to the CD angrier? Because when you use the actual text to clarify, you know for the next take if you're starting off in the right direction. You give the director or CD a chance to say "Yes, thats a great place to start" or "No, I meant even angrier." This creates more of a work session between you two - a collaboration. A lot times as actors, we know in our head what "angrier" means, but my idea of angrier is going to be different than your idea of angrier. Make sense?

Coming from the casting side, I see it all the time. I give direction and the whole time the actor is shaking their head "Yup, I got that" Only to repeat the lines the EXACT same way OR not go far enough with the direction. I find that when actors clarify the direction I've given, its MUCH more of a payoff for both of us because you walk out feeling good and I become a fan of your work. I think "Yeah, that person can act, take direction, and will be GREAT ON SET". You might not end up being right for the part, but I would definitely continue to bring you in for other castings based on your ability to take direction.

And yeah....auditioning is a different beast but you build WAY more fans in the room when you clarify the direction for yourself in way that is constructive for us both, it's a win-win. Remember, it's not your job to book the role, it is your job to take direction!




(212) 414-4777

New York, NY

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*Mel likes to maintain a comfortable work environment for her actors and therefore does not allow auditors.
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