Before I started the Actors’ Hub in 2012, I spoke to a number of graduates from many different acting schools, like myself, and asked them what they thought had been missing from their training. I often felt that, although I had completed my degree, I was not really prepared for the industry and I knew a number of my colleagues shared this feeling. I began with fellow graduates and then started talking to industry professionals, asking them “if we were to establish an acting school in Perth what did they think was important to teach our students before they entered the industry”. And I distinctly remember one response in particular, from a film producer/director colleague of mine. He said, “Teach them how to leave an impression for all the right reasons. You will be surprised at how many we remember because we are sure we do not want to work with them.”
I found this very interesting and started to question how can you leave an impression; one that is guaranteed to get the production team excited about working with you, if not today then sometime in the future?
How do you get remembered for all the right reasons?
I thought about this long and hard and realized it goes back to the beginning. The actor needs to go back to the beginning and ask themselves: “what amazed me or excited me or stimulated me about this project/play/film in the beginning?” And if you do not know or you are not amazed excited or stimulated you need to discover why, and you need to sit with the project until you are.
Drawing attention to something that amazes, excites or stimulates you is often enough to leave an impression with someone else.
This idea makes us look at the whole auditioning process in a completely different light. We have been approaching auditions all wrong focusing our attentions on questions like: will they like me? Will they want me? What do I need to do to make him see me? What do I need to do to make them like me? How can I stand out?
Instead we need to understand in order to leave an impression and highlight our creativity all we need to do is focus our performance on what it is that fascinates us about the project.
Creativity can be as simple as pointing out something incredible that you noticed. If it left an impression on you it probably will leave impression on others. Edgar Degas suggests, “Art is not what you see, but what you make of what you see.”
If you want to leave an impression make the audition panel see the thing that amazes, excites or stimulates you about the work that you are exploring.
When you need to determine your vision for a piece go back to what excited, amazed or stimulated you when you first read the piece. This should be the starting point for all that you create. This should inform your entire approach. If it fascinates you it is likely to fascinate others. Get very, very clear on what you are drawn to. And do not underestimate the time that this can take on some projects. Because some of our most talented writers will leave us at first unable to put our finger on what amazes, what excites or what stimulates us specifically about their work. And you need to get specific.
Enjoy discovering what you enjoy and then invite others to enjoy what you enjoy.