By Allen Levin
You tell me. You have to experiment. You have to read a bunch of books and try things. You need to figure out how you operate. Seems like a lazy answer, right? It’s simply the truth. Any acting coach that says they have the best method is a joker. It’s find for them to believe in what they are teaching, but they are selling you snake oil. The only person who can figure out the precise acting technique you need to get “there” is you.
So, the experiment begins! Try cleaning your room before an audition. Did that help to clear your mind and allow you to let go of your rehearsal so that you could find each moment spontaneously in the room? Did you book? If so, do it again. Do you keep booking after cleaning your room? If so, that’s a part of your technique. Do what it takes to allow the surrender (see “Surrender”) so that you can be completely free and present in the room. Do whatever you need to do so that you can trust that you are enough. That you can enjoy the audition. You are prepared. Preparation will take it’s own form within you as well.
Preparation is a part of technique. Acting isn’t “paint by numbers.” No one can give you the answer. What you have to do is experience plenty. Do 100 scenes for a start! Fully memorized. Give it your absolute best. That’s a good beginning to a true acting career. Within those scenes, what did you learn about you? How were you able to free up? Did you stretch each time before your work? Here’s a technique I recommend as I’ve scene it work for thousands, if it doesn’t work for you: don’t do it. Try it. Does a stretch out routine before your audition help your percentage of bookings go up or down? If it’s neutral (if you can’t tell the result), stretch. If it’s going down, skip it. See if your numbers go back up.
Technique for you is whatever you do. If you have an emotionally charged scene, do you look at a picture of your lost love just before the audition? Does that load you up? If not, what about the puppy you had and lost in the terrible accident. Does having his collar in your pocket help you get the emotion you need? Do whatever it takes. True artists don’t hide. They don’t fake it. They find the true emotions within themselves and they are willing to use their lives to get them where they need to go. “Use your LIFE, BOOK the work.”
If using your life hurts your bookings, cut that out and fast! What works for you? Keep in mind, don’t just give yourselves defense mechanisms so that you don’t have to go difficult places. I know plenty of actors that can’t face their lives. They don’t use their unfair competitive advantage (their life) and they rarely, if ever, book anything.
Keep in mind this is one long game. All of it. We try things. We learn. We continue doing what works for us. If pumping out 40 push ups has you loose and booking, do that. If trying to fall asleep in a chair for 15 minutes after arriving an hour early gets you booking, do that. If convincing yourselves that Antoine Fuqua is in the room makes you nervous and you can convert those nerves into the right energy, do that. There isn’t anything (within moral, ethical, and legal consideration) that you shouldn’t try. If 100 jumping jacks loosens you up, if you rehearsing 45 minutes on and 15 minutes off for 8 solid hours, gets you there, if watching your favorite film just before an audition inspires you: do it.
Do whatever you must do. Figure yourselves out. Find a great community and experiment! Work with winners. Work with people that aren’t only interested in themselves finding starring work, but they are interested in community. Those are the people that will last. You’d be surprised how many divas quit. You think: Wow! That woman knows who she is! She’s big! She’s strong! She’s going to be a star. Guess again. They find a reason and they quit. The act as though they are above this “Hollywood thing.” The truth is that they couldn’t get past themselves.
The journey is one of getting past yourselves. Rise above and you can do this. Not rise above and quit this. So, what do you do to get past yourselves. What do you do to remind yourselves that this isn’t about you. This is about what you can give. It’s not about you impressing anyone. It’s what you have to contribute to projects. Do you say daily affirmations? If so go for it! Does the “positive thinking card” of the day help you? I’m not knocking any of these things. I don’t do them, but I know successful people that do.
The case is that all of it is right. None of this is wrong. If you need to take a 15 or 30 minute walk to clear your mind before an audition and that works for you. Do it. If you need to do crazy movements and screams IN the audition room just before a performance, turn your back to the room and do it! I know celebrity actors that do that. They aren’t worried about the impression it makes. They do it to “get in.” They book. They are some of the top talents of our time. Fearless, they are. Are you? Are you willing to initially give producers a bad impression so that you can prime your pumps?
This is a fun game that takes courage. It takes courage, discipline, a possible routine, surrender, trust, and way down on the list is talent. Talent can be developed. You all have talent. People like to pretend “you either have it or you don’t.” I’ve never met a person with no talent. We have varying degrees. Talent is my last thought. You need to be dedicated, passionate, persistent, and willing to change. Enjoy your personal growth as you crack the code on you. Experiment. Experience. Learn. Keep a journal. Move on.
Onward and UP.