THE UPS AND DOWNS – LIFE’S JOURNEY
“If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.” Carl Jung
If you are going to stay in this business for the long haul one has to learn how to see life as a continuum or a wave not as a stock market graph. The tide comes in, the tide goes out. Beware the fate of Smeagol (Gollum) and your desire for the shiny object. In this blog I’d like to explore a few exit strategies to find your way out of this intricate web we weave for ourselves.
We come into this world expressing ourselves with a howl. With our first breath we declare our presence. This desire can be curbed or thwarted, perverted or diverted over the course of your life and it can only be stopped if you decide to give up on your dream. Let’s focus on the specific matter at hand.
HOW TO LEAVE THE ROOM
If you have been reading the first 4 blogs in this series and endeavoured to integrate this advice, then you are already 90% there.
Things to consider when you walk out of the audition room (live, virtual or self-tape) are the following:
1. What did I do well and more importantly, did I give it everything I am? Did I share as much of myself as humanly possible within the parameters of the scene(s)? If you answered yes to these questions, you’re already a winner.
2. There will be time to beat yourself up (if you feel so inclined,) but be disciplined about what part of the audition you DID feel good about first. There is always something. If you pick through the shards of your Gollum like ego you will find a couple of moments (maybe more) that actually went well. Be proud of what you accomplished instead of ashamed of what you missed. In doing this, you will be ready and fortified to look at the moments where you could’ve done better.
PEOPLE DON’T FAIL. IT IS WHAT THEY DO THAT FAILS
If you follow this mode of thinking the odds of a brightly imagined future increase exponentially. You will be eager for the next audition, to put all your new and improved skills to work. You see, if it is “you” that fails: Well, you suck and you’re a loser. What can you do about it? Nothing except feel the need to buy into “empowerment scams.” When you believe that YOU are the failure you flood your body with negative chemicals which drain your natural hew and start to turn you green (Gollum). However, if it is what you “did” then there is something specific you can do about it. It's a habit not a lifelong infliction. There is a path forward not a downward spinning rabbit hole (a hobbit).
Here is a checklist:
Did you breathe?
Did you commit yourself (body and soul) to what you were doing?
Did you rush?
Did you hesitate?
Did you take the time to clear your head of the first scene before you started the second?
Were you thought and action specific?
Did you breathe in the transitions rather than lurch from one predetermined beat to another?
Did you over complicate your eyelines?
When they gave you a note, did you take enough time to distill what was being said in order to deliver what they asked of you?
Review these questions after every audition (and any other questions you want to add of your own!) Correct the ones you missed and commend yourself for the ones you did successfully.
“No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life: no one but you yourself alone.” Friedrich Nietzsche
Remember what often passes as “insider knowledge” is mostly hype. A great deal of the time your audition was perfectly fine it was simply other factors that interceded.
Here are examples of other factors that could be at play:
1. You didn’t look like the person hired to play your father/mother/brother/sister/etc.
2. You looked too old, too young, too tall or too short.
3. Casting loved you but couldn’t get network or studio approval.
4. The distribution deal or a tax incentive meant they had to cast someone from a different province, state or country.
5. Currently there is a greater attempt to address and correct past inequality and omissions with regards to racial, cultural, and gender representation.
6. Those in power thought you were great, but it just didn’t feel right. There was a quality/essence they desired that another actor naturally had.
You are only responsible for sharing all that you are as it pertains to the role that you had the honour and responsibility to play. After you leave the room, call a friend, go for a run, do some yoga, dance to some music or just have a nap. Life will be better when you are in your body not lost in the chaos of your mind. With a clear head, a bounce in your step and faith in your heart - review your notes, continue to train and get better. You will be ready for the next one!
“I gaze into the doorway of temptation’s angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand”
- Bob Dylan
Next week will be the final blog in this series (...I promise!) This one has a happy ending. It deals with what happens when you book the job, set etiquette, and the differences between: a feature film booking, a TV role (principal/guest star/series regular).