My Recent interview with Jaime Lubin of HoneySuckle Magazine We talked about my process and my new solo show An American's Journey Home which premiered at the Library of CongressWith current events highlighting the divisions in our country, this Veterans Day Douglas Taurel seeks to reunite us by living in the past. But it’s not what it sounds like. As the Library of Congress kicks off its centennial anniversary of U.S. entry into World War I on November 11th, Taurel will be on hand in the Coolidge Auditorium to perform his acclaimed solo show The American Solider and premiere his latest play, An American Soldier’s Journey Home: The Diary of Irving Greenwald. Turns out we have a lot in common with people from 100 years ago.
While there are many ways to break down a TV & film audition scene, I want to walk you through a few quick and easy things to spot, circle and focus in on that will help unlock the scene for you and provide a roadmap for how to play it.
When you see the words, but, if, and, ok, or, so, which or what, notice them, focus on them and circle or highlight them. Why? When you see these words, think of them as gear changers in the scene and indicators of how the writer is having the characters think. These words unintentionally provide insight into how we should speak. They are like the green lights and stop signs of our language and when we pay particular attention to them on the page, they give us a road map to what is actually being said by a character in the scene. It is an easy way to help ground yourself when you are trying to break down the scene.
The red lights, or stop signs in the scene, are but, if, and, ok, or, so, which or what. Make sure that you see them and don’t run through them.Ask yourself why the character is saying but or agreeing with the word ok or giving options with the word or and adding to his thoughts with the word and. Don’t minimize these words. By slowing down and paying attention to them, you can unlock clues in how the scene can be played and what it might be about.
Let’s take a film audition scene: I have changed the character names and the words a little to protect the rights of the scene, but this is from an actual script.
INT: Squad room/ police station
Detective: We’ve canvassed every house with a view of the mountain. No one saw the man with the hacker or saw David with the hacker.
Jennie: Which doesn’t mean John Redford did the murder.
Detective: No. But why wouldn’t he mention it when we spoke to him. Did he really not remember or did he choose to lie. And do we think the money and drugs in the car are connected.
Notice the words I have mentioned in the above excerpt of the scene. Highlight these words and focus on them very closely. We have an idea of how the Detective is specifically thinking by the way he uses or in the first line. No one saw the hacker or David with the hacker, which obviously is very important to him because the word or acts to emphasize to his point.
Jennie disagrees with the Detective and says not so fast when she uses the word which as a way of defending John Redford: Which doesn’t mean John Redford did the murder. The Detective then confirms his point of view by using the word But in his last line, confirming that he thinks John Redford is guilty because he never mentioned anything to him when they spoke to him: No. But why wouldn’t he mention it when….
By focusing on these words, we notice conflict and intentions in the scene by the two characters. And now we can use our imaginations as actors in making a choice in how we want to play the scene. Making a choice, not making the right choice because making a choice is always more important than making the right choice.
Another big clue is always the word sorry, because when a character says sorry, that is an immediate beat change or transition in the scene. You have to play the scene differently immediately after you hear or say sorry or an apology. The behavior in the scene can’t be the same as it was before you said it or heard it. That wouldn’t make sense in life or in acting!
These may be easier to pick up in a two- or three-page film & TV scene, but they can also apply to a theatre scene. In a film & TV audition scene, you have less words on the page and so they pop more, but they definitely are there in theatre scenes. Take a look at the second scene in Streetcar Named Desire when Stanley questions Blanche on the sell of Belle Reve.
Easy Tips to Unlock a TV & Film Audition Scene
Circle all but, if, and, ok, or, so, which or whats in the scene.
Circle all questions and all forms of apologies in the scene.
Ask yourself what the POV might be for each character in the scene because the use of these words.
Always behave differently in the scene once you say or hear an apology. It will show that you are listening.
Make a choice on what you have deduced and don’t second guess it. Making a choice is more important than making the right choice.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JS46KjD-WEAny audition can feel like a mental hurricane of an event—especially an on-camera audition. I'm sure Brad Pitt or any Hollywood had and have nerves when they go out for either their first audition or for a big audition.There’s so much going on through you and around you. You’ve worked on your sides, worked with a coach or friend, and marked where you need to look in the room technically to make your scene come to life.However, things happen so fast that many times you forget to take the time to ground yourself, focus on the reader, and note where, on the opposite side of the camera, your mark is so that you can create the relationship of the other actor in the scene. Auditioning for the camera is a visual medium, so you need to be able to tell your story with pictures and know how to make your audition work technically so that your story is told accurately.Make things as easy and clear for yourself so that you know exactly what it is you want to do technically.Here are five suggestions to help you stay grounded and focused when you walk in the room.1. Breathe. Take calm and deep breaths outside the room and also as you walk into the room. Your body always remembers the pattern of your breath. If you’re breathing rapidly, your body will associate that breath with nervousness and will act accordingly. Act relaxed, and your body will think relaxed.2. Find the eyes. Find and look at the reader in the eyes the moment you walk in the room. Don’t stare her/him down, but just make a mental note to catch the reader in the eyes as you walk in and say hello. You walk in and say hello, but if you don’t look the casting director or reader in the eyes, you don’t mentally prepare yourself to see that casting director looking right at you when the scene starts, which can throw you off for a beat or two.3. Find your mark quickly. Find your mark immediately after you have introduced yourself. You are looking for where, on the opposite side of the camera, you will take the majority of your scene if you plan to create another relationship. Think of the camera as Mickey Mouse with two big ears. You want to focus on one ear, which will be the reader or casting director, and then you want the mark on the wall or somewhere in the room that is near enough to the camera to be the other ear. This will help you to not get lost when your adrenaline is up during your audition.4. Practice fast and flat. When you run your scene with your friend or coach, ask them to be sure to run it a few times, giving you the lines flat and quicker than normal. With a short TV or film scene, casting directors or readers in the office are reading the scene so many times that they need to run through the scene quickly in order to move their day along, which is completely understandable but if you’re not ready for it, it can throw you a bit.Bonus Tip: Move your body to learn your lines. When you’re learning your lines, move your body around or walk around to learn them with movement. It is much easier to learn lines by physicalizing them, and it’s easier to recall them under pressure when you have learned them physically. Think about going for a walk as you run your lines, or do a house chore like emptying the dishwasher so that you lines become second nature to you.Learn more about my projects here: http://bit.ly/IMDBDouglasTaurelYoutube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCez-sSqIrowC5pxQrth8X3AFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/DouglasTaurel/Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/DouglasTaurel/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dtaurel/
There is incredible power in writing a solo show. It will undoubtedly be hard work, but the rewards both professionally and spiritually are immense and absolutely worth it. Here’s how you can get started today.
1. Find a subject that you are insanely passionate about. Don’t pick a subject that you are not passionate about because the amount of work that you will have to put in will be intense. If the passion is not there, you won’t be able to withstand the tough and frustrating moments. (Yes, you will have a few of those.)
Think of something you love to watch on TV, read about, or discuss. For me, it was American history. I have a deep passion for the subject, which is why I wrote my show, “The American Soldier,” based off of veteran letters.
2. Write every thought and idea down. Buy a notebook and start writing down notes, quotes, phrases, or statements that you either read or hear on TV or anywhere else. YouTube is an amazing source of information. Watch documentaries, films, and read all you can on the subject and cut and highlight magazine and newspaper articles. The software Evernote allows you to clip, post, and record video and audio, and upload images you find compelling for your show.
3. Don’t worry about the end goal. Simply research and collect as much as you can on your show. Your most important task is to keep driving your passion and inspiration. This is the fun part, so let it be fun.
4. Just write. Find three days a week and a time in the day that you can concentrate for two 45-minute intervals with 15-minute breaks. I always suggest first thing in the morning. You want to work when everyone else is sleeping and interruptions are at a minimum. Don’t check your phone when you write. You can check it during the 15-minute break.
5. Take all of your material to a solo show workshop class. Once you feel you have written enough material (and you will know when that is), there you will have objective eyes and ears to help you prune and shape it. Always delegate the things you are not good at to experts who have more experience in those fields. Find a kind, encouraging (they must be kind and encouraging) teacher or class with a strong track record. Getting involved with a solo workshop is great because it will force you to perform your material for an audience and keep you to a timeline.
6. Start your director search. Once you have all of your material shaped and have workshopped it to a group of people, you can start your director search. Create a list of possible directors with whom you would like to work. Ask your friends and industry contacts for referrals. Research them and find out what they have done. Ask everyone.
7. Memorize a piece of your show. Really craft it as if you were taking it to an audition. Find two or three directors you want to work with and perform it for them. If you gel with them and they like your work, then you have found your director. Don’t be discouraged if they say no. You will get many no’s; it is part of the game. When they give you a no, ask them if they know someone who might be interested. Rinse and repeat.
There will be moments when you feel no one sees your vision. But that’s OK because it’s your vision. If you keep at it and hear yes when everyone else says no, you will be rewarded beyond your dreams. Many told me no and that my idea didn’t really make sense. I have performed my show around the country, been nominated for awards, received incredibly strong reviews, and earned four stars at the at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. But most importantly, I have grown my confidence as a producer and artist by 20 fold and opened many, many doors for myself.
Learn more about my projects here: http://bit.ly/IMDBDouglasTaurel Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCez-sSqIrowC5pxQrth8X3AFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/DouglasTaurel/Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/DouglasTaurel/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dtaurel/