HOW TO BE PRESENT IN THE CASTING ROOM- By Risa Bramon Garcia and Steve Braun
There is no greater feeling when a casting director connects with an actor during an audition. I’m referring to the actor’s work being so present, so alive, so engaging that there is no denying the actor’s truth. That’s how they become fully involved in your story. It won’t have anything to do with sets, costumes or camera moves. It all comes down to presence. Dropping into your experience, fully committed, taking ownership, deeply engaging with the other person you’re talking to, and being emotionally “on fire”.
This is the kind of work that you must bring into the casting room. This is you doing your job, not auditioning for a role. Not proving to the casting director that you can do it, but actually just doing it. You shouldn’t have to get permission from them to sit, stand or engage in any way with the reader. But taking command. Showing leadership. That is something they look for all the time.
It’s very important to invest in exactly what you want in the scene. There is urgency, the stakes involved mean something to you, and from a long emotional life, there is an active pursuit of something. And you just have to do it. You go for it. You don’t want to be directed, and you most certainly don’t wait for something to give you a choice to “play”. You make sure that you invest completely in the story and take that leap. Personally, specifically, intimately. Assuming relationships (even with a reader who is somewhat disengaged), wanting something that you can feel deep down in your core, and immersing yourself in it fully.
Sure, you might lose it now and then, but it’s very important to find your own way back into it. While no casting room is going to give you the feeling of the world you are apart of- nor will it take care of your acting needs- only you are responsible for showing up. That’s all on you. By allowing yourself to be present is not only going to bring the casting director into your “circle”, it’s going to provide space for you to do meaningful work.
You have to engage with:
- A clear decision about how you feel, what you believe in about everything, everyone you’re talking about, personally and specifically. You have to know that
- The courage to show yourself fully, to put your heart out on the chopping block (so to speak) and understanding that it might not always work out for you. However it is a part of your job to be vulnerable, to be seen, to feel things and to engage from that place
- A spirit of collaboration. It’s very reassuring for a casting director to see that you want to work with them, not for them. Don’t audition, work
- A sense of yourself as a tree. Grounded. Sure. Clear. And nothing, nobody can shake you- not a producer on her phone, not a reader that won’t look at you. You have more important things then to be unhinged by the room
- A desire, a willingness, a need to engage with another human being, the reader. Make that person your scene partner and put all of your attention onto him or her. It doesn’t matter what they do or don’t do for you. Know what they mean to you
- A strong, clear, emotional truth, that allows you to be full, dropped in, still and present
- An ease, realising that this is not life-changing. Sure, if you get the job it will change things for a while, but this moment cannot be about the pressure you put on yourself to win the lottery. This moment is about the story you’re telling, the relationship you’re in, the thing you need to in the scene and how that affects you. And that’s it. It’s about practicing your craft at the highest level.
You have to redefine auditioning. Turn it on its head and reframe what it means. It’s a toxic word if you let it separate you from your talent or from the other professionals in that room who are there to do their best work. When you can start seeing this as an opportunity to fully enter a story and offer yourself to collaborate with fellow artists and to affect people on an emotional level—which is your primary job and your superpower—yours will be the kind of work casting directors will be privileged to see.