The Cardinal Sin of Auditioning

This week:  Deceitful Actors Who Falsely Audition

Recently as I was sitting in my partner’s office (the talent agency owner) I overheard one side of a heated phone conversation between one of the agents and a client.

“If you go in for Tara Rubin for this audition, just to be seen, without any intent on accepting an offer for the national tour of Young Frankenstein should it come your way…” was how the conversation began as the agent’s temporal veins began to pulse. I knew where this was going. And it wouldn’t be pretty.

Here was an actor, with solid representation, at a better agency, who’d been given an offer for a job in New York which would conflict with the Young Frankenstein national tour. Because he had an offer on hand which was not finalized on paper, auditioning for other projects is the norm in the industry. What is not the appropriate norm was what he wanted to do. He was telling his agent, someone in the business long before said actor was in diapers, that if he got an offer from the Young Frankenstein audition, he would pass. I.e. flip off the offer and creative team. His sole desire to go in for one of the hottest casting offices in New York was that he wanted to use the audition to remind Tara Rubin that he existed.

W.T.F! Excuse me????!!!!!

As the conversation to my left continued, the agent’s pulsating temples were joined in rhythm by her click-clack tapping of manicured finger nails upon the frosted glass of her desk top. I looked to her boss, my partner. He informed me that the actor on the phone was the same young man who came into an audition for me over a year ago, got an offer from my office and client and then passed. He passed because he never wanted the job. He auditioned only because he had yet to be seen by me. He did THIS to a casting director who also was the life-partner to the agent that represented him! (Can anyone say Gaul? Stupidity? Walking selfish-arrogant-anal opening?!)

My partner and I were both supremely peeved. Despite the actor’s foible of giving what basically was a fictitious audition (because he held no truth to professionalism) this “actor” wasn’t dropped. His punishment to date? I refuse to call him in for anything again. Ever.

Never. Repeat. Never. Ever do you as an actor, a professional, go to an audition knowing that you will not accept an offer should you be so lucky as to receive one. As I wrote extensively on this subject in ACTING: Make It Your Business far too many times do actors and academics of the profession live by or impart unto others the mis-informed, moronic mantra, “You should audition for anything and everything even if you’re not right for a role, not available for, or dis-interested in the project being cast.” If you’re not; interested, right for a role or project available, DO NOT AUDITION! Got it?!

You’re wasting the time of your fellow actors who DO want the job and are appropriate for the role(s) being cast. By being false with your audition intent you’re wasting the valuable time and money of the creative personnel who are seeking performers who want immediate employment. Plus, you’re pissing off your peers and the people who hire. Actors and acting academics who believe in the “audition for anything and everything” fable can argue with me and my casting colleagues, talent reps., producers and directors against our professional opinion until they and their tenured professors enroll for the grave. Fine. But you and they should know this: Participate in the foolish, selfish, unprofessional behavior and an early grave is where your career journey prematurely comes to an end with those you practice upon this folly.

You may be thinking…, “How would the casting people, directors or producers know I was auditioning for a project that I had no intent on taking the job if offered?” Hmmmm. Deceit can not hide forever.

In ACTING: Make It Your Business I wrote of an incident in which one rude, selfish, arrogant, asinine actress who auditioned for one of my projects knew going into the audition studio that she would not take the job if offered. What happened? How I knew? What became of her? And what happened when I ran into her afterward…? Well for those who have read that story… you know. And hopefully you’ve learned from her error.

My best,
Paul

AMIYB_AmazonRead advice from legendary talent agents,
plus Hollywood & Broadway actors in Paul Russell’s Best-Selling Book ACTING: Make It Your Business!

 

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

 

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Actors & Social Media

Actors & Social Media

“Kevin Kemperer is doin’ Brittany in the hot tub.”

Sadly the only thing fictional about the sentence prior, pulled from a Facebook status, is the user’s name; Kevin Kemperer. His “doin’ Brittany in the hot tub”, whether true or not, was only known to the user who posted the Facebook status and Brittany.

I have a lot of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace friends. I’m gigged out by digital detente. About one percent of my computerized companions are 3D friends. I.e. people I actually call friends in the real world. An additional quarter of the techno-byte buddies are people I’ve met or worked with on occasion; acquaintances. Leaving the rest of the 74 percent of the thousands who Friend, Link, Space and Tweet me as strangers who I only know of by their statuses that stream by in a flood on my laptop screen.

Most of that 74 percentile deluge flowed to me. I know it’s not because of my sapphire eyes, curly locks or sexual preference (damn). I know full well that when I confirm or accept the invites from strangers to become a virtual friend that it’s my work as a director, casting director and/or author that’s being exploited. I’m being networked. I have no qualm or complaint about that. That’s part of this business. It’s a vital survival component for success that anyone in any business should constantly be doing. As long as they befriend business buddies in a professional manner.

If you’re going to network on social internet sites you would do yourself a professional service by creating two profiles. One for your true friends and family. Another to represent your career. Keep your contacts separate and relative for each profile.

I’m often amused and remain amazed about the number of inappropriate “statuses” streaming on my news feeds from the people who are using me as a professional networking connection. Some things are never meant to be witnessed. Like Rush Limbaugh repeatedly jumping naked on a bed.

Below is a sampling from a recent quick glance of actor Facebook & Twitter statuses better left un-texted. If you recognize any of them you can thank me for not revealing your name which I have replaced with “Anonymous”.

“Anonymous fuck my life.”

“Anonymous ain’t gonna go and act a fool and be the lead story on the nigga news? Neva me sucka, I’ll never be your lover, I’D RATHER MAKE YOU SUFFER. You stupid motherfucker.”

“Anonymous thinks there is nothing better than belting out songs that make the neighbors want to complain!”

“Anonymous is burnt as a lobster and totally depressed as hell that CHANDLER has left her forever (crying of course)”

“Anonymous is extremely frustrated…”

“Anonymous’ back is surprisingly tight after yesterdays climbing, and longing for a back massage”

“Anonymous’ headache is gone and I cleaned my own bathroom like a big girl.”

“Anonymous is not good at this hope thing, but desperately needs to know so she can move on with her life. So the question is to act or not? Will either choice help for the better or worse? Or has fate already decided? Really… this is torture!”

“Anonymous has never been so humiliated by someone who calls her his best friend”

“Anonymous is generally displeased.”

“Anonymous is Dear BestBuy, thanks for ruining my fucking day by accusing me of being a criminal. WHY WOULD I TRY TO SHOP LIFT A 5 DOLLAR DVD!?!?!?!?!?!

TMI folks (too much interconnection). O.K. and too much information for me and other people you’re networking with professionally to know. Way too much.

The current constant connection fad of passive aggressive communication via keystrokes is in overdrive. Online social networks can be great tools (of which a later blog on successful exploitation will be forthcoming). But for now; the lesson here is to keep your private thoughts just that. Private. With possible exceptions contained to family relations and reality friends.

If you still doubt about blindly proliferating inappropriate prose to the masses think about this. If you were applying for a school, employment at a Fortune 500 company or keeping in contact with your grandparents via a social internet web site would you advertise to them and the world you were “doing Brittany in the hot tub”? If so, then you’re narcissism challenges that of Paris Hilton’s. Get offline. Get help.

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.

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