Last week I wrote about auditions and how gutting they can be when you don’t get them.
This week I want to write about the value of showing up and being gentle with yourself.
I’ve just come back from a casting for a corporate training film. For those of you not familiar with the casting process, let me paint a picture.
I arrived 10 minutes before my allotted time and buzzed the suite. Was told the room was full and could I come back in 10 minutes. So I walked around the block, breathing and trying to keep cool. Came back at the allotted time.
The office was full. And hot. And muggy. There’s a form to fill out, an ipad to check yourself in on AND a script to look at. And nowhere to sit down.
I juggle all the bits, get the paperwork out of the way and look at the script. It’s not very well written, and frankly doesn’t even make sense. Plus I’m a bit nervous meaning I’m not in the most receptive state.
I’ve got two lines. I go over them (and my cues) so that I’m familiar with them.
We go in as a group of five into a little airless room, with hot lights going, and 3 people who don’t introduce themselves.
We line up and introduce ourselves to camera. The guy in charge, who I don’t know, starts grilling the one Irish girl about where she’s from. He’s Scottish with a thick accent. He’s all ‘fuckin’ this and feckin’ that’ and the poor girl was trying to understand what he was saying. He was railing about a revolution and not only could I not understand his accent but I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. I laugh nervously.
Then they block out a little scene.
I’m directed to enter and cross across the back, give a line to someone else, faff about in the corner and somehow engage in a conversation a page later with 3 ladies sitting in the middle.
Take one, I enter crossing behind everyone, past the other guy and into the corner (as directed). I try to make small talk with him (as directed) and we’re merrily chatting away.
The person in charge say’s “who’s the CEO?”
Oh, that’s me. I guess that was my cue (which I couldn’t hear).
So back we go. Take 2.
This time we keep our voices down and do less. It’s meant to be the lunchroom, I’m standing in the corner and there’s a fork and a plastic container. So I pick them up and give myself some ‘business’ of eating my lunch while listening to the chat. I get my lines in. It was okay, I think.
We go back and do it again. This time he says not to mime anything (I was pretending to eat food).
So we do it again. Without food to eat, I’m left with that awkward thing we never do in life of just standing around listening to other people talk. When was the last time you did that? You check you phone, or drink your beer, or rifle through your bag. Only if you’re really involved in the conversation do we actually stand next to a group of people listening.
But that’s what I’m meant to do. So I do it. It goes alright.
We do it again. He tells us to be more natural. To make up the lines (but you’ve still got to know the sequence so you come in at the right time). This one was probably the best take, though my improvised line at the end may not have been right (since I didn’t really understand the script, I’m not really sure what my character’s position on the argument was meant to be?).
They thanked us and we left.
The waiting room was full of another group of five who looked more or less exactly like we did. And the cycle was probably repeated in 10 minute intervals for most of the day.
How do you win in this scenario?
It’s really easy for me to start to pick through the interview wondering if I did that part right, or that part wrong. Or what they meant by that. Or maybe flagellating myself that I should have said this instead of that.
If I don’t watch it, I can go into a big funk again like last week.
BECAUSE THE SITUATION IS SO STACKED AGAINST ME.
But I’m not going to.
I’m going to acknowledge that I showed up on time at the right place. I dressed as they asked me to dress. I did everything I was asked to do TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY.
What more can I ask of myself? What more can they expect of me?
The situation is so fraught with so many traps I reckon the fact that I got out of there alive is reason enough to celebrate.
Will I get the job? I doubt it. But I might. It comes down to whether someone else better understood the situation and better responded to the information. And also they might ‘look’ more like how the team envisioned the character.
There are so many things out of my control. I have to be willing to acknowledge what I did do and let the rest go.
It takes enormous courage and grace to keep putting yourself through these scenarios. But what’s the alternative? If I want to be an actor, I have to go to auditions.
5 Ways to Stay Sane When Dealing with Challenging Situations
1. Show up on time.
Be at the allotted place at the allotted time. Lots of people don’t even turn up. So you are already ahead of the competition simply by being at the venue in time.
2. Follow the brief
Whatever instructions you’ve been given, follow them to the letter. I was up for a CEO and told to dress in shirt & tie. When getting ready I was tempted to put on a suit, but thought better. Their instructions had been clear. Do as instructed.
3. Do the best you can
Meetings, interviews, auditions can leave you flustered. Do the best you can. Listen when they are talking. Seek clarification if you don’t understand. And do your best.
4. Free yourself from the outcome
You are not in control of the outcome. If you’ve done steps 1-3 above, you have fulfilled your job. You must not be attached to the outcome. Release yourself from any expectation.
5. Forgive yourself
You did your job to the best of your ability. You can’t ask anything more of yourself. Resist the temptation to play the scenario over and over in your head – it will simply drive you insane. You don’t know what they were thinking and any conclusions you do come to will probably be wrong. Don’t do it. Forgive yourself for whatever went wrong. Applaud yourself for all you did right. And move on.
It’s not just actors who have to go through confusing interviews/meetings/consultations/go-sees/auditions in order to secure work.
What scenarios do you face in your pursuit of a creative career that are similarly charged? How do you deal with them? Please use the comments box below to tell us about it and how you cope.
I’m busy writing material for the July Challenge: 31 Days to Kick Start your Creative Business. It’s gonna be good. I hope you’ll join us. Why not sign up to receive these posts via email so you don’t miss out on any of them?