"Successful filmmaking is successful team building..."
What separates amateurs from professionals at auditions?
1. Know your lines. It may be a cold read, but the more you know your lines the higher the auditor’s view of you as an actor and professional talent.
2. Never put down your script
3. Do your best performance at auditions
4. Put your feet about shoulder length apart and plant yourself.
5. Make eye contact with your reader or invisible characters as much as possible.
6. Scene pacing...do not take too many beats, know the tempo, but do not rush through it and miss the great moments...also do not slow down or drag. Find the right pace for the scene, and chance your pace as needed (as long as you do not do so just to do it, or too often in a short scene).
7. Make strong choices....the most dramatic and entertaining sources possible...love someone or hate them...or do both at the same time.
8. Keep the audience at the edge of their seats. Work on the impact of the scene (what is it about, how can you make it interesting yet real.
9. Camera ready performances at every audition
10. Memorize it and polish it as quickly as you can (from the moment you get your script).
11. Be friendly, professional, easy to work with...successful filmmaking is successful team building...people need to want to work with you and live with you on the set.
12. Do not sweat.
13. Do not move around too much...focus on your reader or the other actor, with the camera in mind...do not move your head too much or do too many "expressions".
14. Work against the obvious, but do not forget you are telling part of a larger story.
15. Experiment when you rehearse, be large, small, happy, sad, work against the script and with it.
16. It's about moving the scene, the story, and the script forward in a realistic way that is part of keeping the audience interested in what they are watching.
17. Go deep into yourself and the character to build a real situation, scene and character that you can use in the scene.
18. Unless it is Shakespeare, it is not Shakespeare. Do not overact or overplay.
19. What counts is what is under the lines, the meaning of what it happening not the words. Learn the words, but act what the scene tells you to in your heart, not just the words.
20. Never let them see you sweat. Do not bring in desperation, fear, and panic, the feeling of needing the role. Just come in and do a good performance, as if it were your performance in the project should they hire you. Casting Directors can taste fear, problems and trouble.
21. Be a professional in every way.
22. Have current photos that show you the way you are.
23. Have a current reel, or at least as current as possible, form real projects (if possible) and of high production value.
24. Network with other actors, crews, directors and those in the industry.
25. Be an actor in your soul...want it...live it...study the craft. Polish your talents and skills...always be working even if you are not paid to do so (but do not give away your talents o those who will profit from them without being paid fir it).
26. When you are ready, join the union. It is the sign that you are a professional and you will be taken that way. But if you are not ready it will limit what you can do and how much you can grow in on-camera actual work. So be sure before you join.
27. Like yourself. Negative attitude and feelings kill more potential careers than anything else.
28. Like others. Do not trash talk, this is a small industry and word gets around. Also you will be known as being negative and a "problem."
29. Do not be intimidated by other talent. No matter what their credits are, how they present themselves, their "star" status or "working actor status" they are people just like you, It's an incestuous business, one of breaks, luck, who you know and your long term reputation. Other actors have their track records and friends. Get to know them as people, not as fans or students.
30. "Be and applicant...not a supplicant."
As to booking….land an agent, network, do submit electronically (but completion is unreal so know that these services are long shots that can pay off…like gambling with your time.), take classes, list with local casting companies, list with local agents if no single agent will sign you, have agents in every market where you can easily travel to work as a “local hire”, always be trustworthy and reliable, thank those that help you (monetary, or simple “thank you” may do). Always think of, help and remember others. Be genuine and not a “poser” or “seeker” or “beggar”.
Sources: my own experience, interviews with industry professionals, reading Backstage and other sources, Scott Rogers, Kerry Berry, Dick Wilson, Paul Napier, Joe Bernard, Joe Behar, the University of Illinois, UNLV, Vic Perillo, Avery Schreiber, OPRF-HS and life experience.