Updated: May 17
An actor immersed in the Film and TV world knows that time is not a luxury often afforded with new scripts. We are asked to memorize a script, create a character, and audition that character... sometimes within the same day. With that in mind, here are a few tips to prime your brain to be ready to book from tape as soon as you start reading the script for the first time.
Trust Your Gut
Embrace your naivete! You've just met this character. Pay attention to what your first instincts are with who this person is and how you can bring them to life. You will convey something that no other actor will so don't fret over what you think the casting director and director are "looking for" (because often times they don't know it until they see it) and make bold choices that allow you to tell a great story.
Know 10 different ways to play the moments in the scene before you start your audition. Even if you hate some of them, you've learned "what not to do" and that helps strengthen your other actions that you do like. If you're self-taping, all of these options help you get 3 great and contrasting takes in no time. And, if you're in the room with the creative team, you will probably have already thought of other ways to play the scene, if they ask you for an adjustment.
Make it Up
Paraphrasing is your friend. The writer has given you clues all over the place... every word, pause, and punctuation mark is a clue. But allow yourself to paraphrase the scene first. Learn the beats of the scene, who won or lost an argument, the thought process of your character from beginning to end, and do it in your own words. This way, you're finding out what the character could have said in that moment but didn't. Then revisit the script to find the exact words that you do use and memorize those. They will instantly have more meaning.
Sleep On It
Learn your lines and beats of the scene. Know them cold. Be able to say them in context of the scene as well as speed through them without emotion or pauses. After that, allow your brain at least one night of sleep before your audition. Your brain has a crazy way of compartmentalizing everything while you sleep so that you don't have to actively recall the scene when you go to perform it; it will just be there.
Lastly, but most importantly, auditioning is your job. This is where you put in your sweat equity and anything that comes after that is just icing on the cake. So treat yourself after every audition... Go out to lunch, go on a hike, buy that shirt you've been wanting... because a reward now will make you less likely to refresh your inbox every 47 seconds from now to Thursday waiting for that magic email.
Book From Tape
Do everything above and you won't have to think during your audition. The character will be there, you will be there, the words will be there, and all without you having to think. Then you can just listen and respond. And the reward at the end ensures that you'll be emotionally satisfied and ready to tackle the next audition.
To see some tips on setting up your own self-taping studio, read here.
Jordan Woods-Robinson is an Actor and Head Honcho at Book From Tape Acting Studios in Orlando, FL. He challenges his actors to harness impulse as a tool, to trust their guts, to work on their feet, to break rules, and, overall, to make bold choices that make a lasting impression through tape. Email Jordan