I’m sure you have known actors that spend more time talking about being an actor, than they spend actually acting.
You have probably known other actors that just can’t seem to take a break from acting and are always on set.
Why do some actors keep a full calendar while others barely scrape by?
The ones that stay busy have figured out the secret to never ending work and you are about to get it too…
While most of us rely on giving a great performance and hoping that casting will remember us next time, this is simply wishful thinking.
If you want to turn 1 gig into several gigs, then you have to be strategic about this.
Recently, I wrote a report about how to make yourself unforgettable to Casting Directors and what to do after production wraps, if you want to hear from them again.
It’s incredibly important to make a lasting impression, because typically you don’t see them again after the casting process.
They don’t generally appear on set to check in on you.
What they do get is a very general list of the actors they cast and a one or two sentence performance review if you’re lucky.
So if you don’t make a real effort, you basically squander your chances of becoming unforgettable.
It all starts with a standout performance.
Have you ever watched a TV show or a movie and seen a bit player steal the show? They outperform the leads (even marquee actors) and you can almost feel their presence jump off the screen.
Whether you’re playing a lead role, supporting character, or even if you’re role is a one liner, the way in which you deliver a standout performance is largely the same. The difference really comes in the details.
For example, a one line role doesn’t require a character story that is as detailed as what you would build for a leading character.
You will not have enough of a relevant backstory to even make that happen. You only have to go deep enough to be able to breathe life into the dialogue.
It’s up to you to decide when your character story is complete. It could be a full page, a paragraph, or even a single sentence.
Have you ever been so deep in character that it felt as if you were embodying the character? The director yells cut and you feel as though you are quantum jumping from one reality to another.
Every top tier actor feels this at some point in their career. The legendary actors feel this with every performance.
Here’s how they do it.
The most important thing is to realize your place in the scene. Are you creating it (as with a lead role), supporting it, or are you merely existing in it.
The smaller the role, the more you have to let go and let the scene drive itself. You must be an active observer of the action. Most actors see these small roles as part of “paying your dues” but it couldn’t be farther from the truth.
When approached properly, these roles are your pregame workout. They exist, not as a stepping stone, but as preparation. Remember when you first learned to read?
You started by learning one syllable at a time. You then moved on to combining two syllables, then three, and so on. If you had been tasked with Nitsche as your first read, it is likely to have never happened.
Acting takes a lot out of you and these smaller roles help to build your stamina.
You can use these small roles to learn how to merely exist inside of a scene. It’s a huge blow to our actor’s ego to think of it this way, but that’s what it is. However, once you master existing in a scene, learning how to support a scene is as easy tacking on another syllable.
Think back to when you were a kid. By simply observing, you learned that red means stop. Green means go, yellow means speed up through the intersection and the big red signs mean stop too.
To deliver a performance that is so memorable as to be unforgettable, you cannot try to play bigger than your role commands.
BUT, you do have to squeeze everything out of the opportunity to you have.
Delivering a standout performance in a one liner or a small role will have everyone thinking that there’s just something about you.
That’s the X factor everyone talks about.
Knowing your place in the production and operating within those parameters while knocking it out of the park is what that “something” is. It’s one of the leading ways to endear a production staff to you.
No one likes to have to tone down the guy that tries to steal every scene, which is what our peers tend to do.
If you have had any kind of training, you’re familiar with the character building process that coaches like to teach. The whole “what did your character, eat for breakfast, what they dream about, blah, blah, blah…” sounds good.
In reality, it gets boring very fast.
All you need to know about your character is: what is the chip on their shoulder.
When you are doing this, think about real people, not characters so you can deliver a genuine performance.
What is your character trying to prove, disprove, or accomplish with their actions?
Once you master how to uncover this for your character, your performances will take a giant leap forward.
Someone shared this with me a long time ago. Since then everyone I’ve shared it with has made fantastic career strides and their acting has become world class.
It’s called entering Alpha and it’s by far the easiest and most effective way to discover the chip on your character’s shoulder and become a vessel for your character to reside in so that you are the character and the character is you.
There should be no distinction and no feeling of the audience watching a performance. They should feel as if they are watching life unfolding.
Here’s how you do it…
Close your eyes and tilt your eyeballs about 20 degrees upward. Count backwards from 50 and imagine yourself descending a ladder with each number.
At the bottom of the ladder you see a white circle growing larger with each step.
When you reach 1, picture yourself in a perfectly lit, bright-white room. See yourself as the character you are playing, standing before you. Then, ask your character anything you want to know.
What drives you, why does this affect you in that way, is this line accurate or would you say it differently in reality?...
Remember the answers. Don’t force it. If your character doesn’t speak, keep asking until she does.
After you have the answers you desire. Take a deep breath and walk over to your character. Remove their head and place it over yours, as if it were a mask and helmet.
Rehearse your scene(s) over and over again using the information you now have available.
When you are satisfied with your performance and are ready to come back to the real world, go back to the ladder and count forward from 1 to 10. When you reach 10 say it audibly, open your eyes and snap your fingers.
When you do this exercise you enter the Alpha state of mind. It’s called that because of the frequency of your brain waves in this state of mind. The level of brain waves is where your creativity resides.
This is not a theory. It’s been proven time and time again and it’s widely accepted as scientific fact.
As for the inquiry and “helmet” technique, they were discovered in a trove of US government documents about a secret project that had to do with things like remote viewing, war games, and even mind control.
There’s nothing mystical about it, though there could be if you want to chase that rabbit.
For now, let’s keep it practical. When you quiet your mind, and mentally detach from a given situation, you give yourself “permission” to get creative without the filters present in a busy mind. You don’t get the impulse to change the way you act in a scene because you feel your delivery was off.
You don’t compare your performance to anyone else’s or try to mimic someone else’s performance either.
When you enter Alpha, you are 100% present in the moment without any outside influence or filter. That’s why this is so powerful and leads to genuine performances.
Do this anytime you are prepping for an audition and after you have committed your lines to memory. You can also do it anytime you need direction for your character on set. Just step away for a few minutes.
Prepare for your upcoming audition using the technique you just learned. Let me know how it goes, in the comments below or shoot me an email.
OF course, it all starts with the audition. If you need more auditions and opportunities, make sure that your industry reputation is helping you instead of holding you back.
When Casting Directors call someone in to read they build a file.
They scrutinize everything from your social media standing to your IMDb profile.
If you are not being called to read as often as you like, there may be something in your file they don’t like.
If you are as talented as you are passionate about acting, then you have to share your talent with the world. Don’t let it sit idly inside of you.
See you at the top,