Advice and Tips for Actors Helpful thoughts on acting from someone who wasn't the least successful actor of all time.

March 28, 2008

Smile and Plough Through

Filed under: acting philosophy,commercial — Eitan @ 4:16 pm

So funny audition story from today:

I head over to my second audition of the day which was for a spec commercial for a director’s reel.  These are shot by directors who need footage to get their foot in the paying door.  So they shoot commercials that aren’t official commercials and try to sell their services around.  There’s really no pay for doing them and they almost never air but it’s a good way to meet up and coming directors.  I did one years ago, never even saw a copy of it.  But it was fun to shoot and I had nothing else to do that night.

So, I show up at my audition and one of the session runners says “ok, you’re reading man #3.”  Cool.  That’s my middle name.  So I pick up the script and read through it once.  It seems to be written all in British slang.  That’s fine, I think, maybe the joke is that these dumb Americans are talking like this or just that they do really bad British accents.  So I ask, “Do you want us to do this in a British accent?”  They sure do.  Turns out one of the other two guys I’m reading with is British and the second guy can do pitch perfect accent.  They want it good and real.

A small aside here:  I don’t really do accurate accents.  I can do funny accents.  Ask me to talk like an Indian and I can even amuse my mother.  But no one would ever accuse me of sounding like a real Indian.  It’s just funny.

So we rehearse it a dozen times and each time I swear I hear my accent getting worse and worse.  And I know this British dude is thinking “I hate all Americans.”  I started planning on driving right from the audition to my commercial agent’s office to berate her for sending me on this audition without any prior warning.  At least I could have practiced the night before to try to embarrass myself less.

We go in the room and they ask us to slate in our accents, so they can pretend that we’re all really British when they show the director this footage.  I hear the name “Eitan Loewenstein” escape my lips in nothing close to a British accent and I knew this was going to be bad.  So we do the scene a couple times.  I really just do my best.  I try to focus on doing the scene well and not worrying about the accent.  Of course the accent is all I can think of.

I should also mention that midway through the audition I notice the casting director looking at me and then back at her notes then back at me again.  She then shows something on her clipboard to her assistant who looks up at me.  This can’t be good.

We do the scene twice (luckily I only had two short lines, I didn’t have to do the part of the guy who tells a long story) and I eagerly await them excusing me so I can go to the car and drink Guinness until I can pretend this whole thing never happened.  But they give us another line to say, this time “angry.”  Now I was doing a terrible accent but I had to do it as a hooligan.  People would accuse me of being British long before they think I’m a hooligan.  I’m quite soft and cuddly.  Luckily this was over quickly and we were excused.

I get up to do a full on sprint out of the room and the casting director stops me by the door.  Then crazy thoughts start going through my head: Are they going to yell at me for doing such a bad accent and wasting their time?  Did they want to apologize for making me do those extra lines?  Wait, did they actually LIKE it?!

Of course not.  They say to me, “I’m so sorry but you weren’t supposed to audition for this commercial.  You are supposed to be reading for the part of the American goofy husband a few minutes later.  We didn’t realize that when we pulled you in to do this one.  Thank you for being such a good sport and going for it.  Do you mind sticking around and doing the right one?”

Um, I don’t mind at all.  Goofy American husband I can do in my sleep.  British hooligan I only have to do in my nightmares.

The point of this post is that sometimes you have to do something so ridiculous and out of your element that the best you can do is smile and plow through (see my clever British spelling in the title?).  I definately won’t get the British one but at least this office knows I’m game and professional enough to keep going no matter how bad an audition is.  People do respect that.  I stayed in the audition and did my best, even though it was really bad.

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