photo credit Alan Howard
We spoke recently with Lora Barnett, proud mum to 11 year old actor Savanna (pictured) who recently was cast as lead in a film starting production this year. She was spotted on Youtube after Lora uploaded Savanna’s latest actors showreel. We wanted to know how they did it to see if there was anything we could learn from their success.
Anthony: Tell us more about the video, what was it? How did you film it and how did you go about sharing it?
Lora: Savanna did a short film for the Met film school called “In colour”, it was the first project Savanna has been in and she took to it like a duck to water. The short film was a very controversial subject about how easy it is for young children to access things on the Internet at home. She loved the experience which made her want to do more.
Savanna handled it in a very mature and professional manner, it took a week to film in Ealing when the filming and editing was finished the director and producer gave me some of the clips and put a showreel together for us. I uploaded the showreel to YouTube and on her acting page on Kids Casting Call Pro. The student from Met films also used it for her end of year exam and it was sent to film festivals!
Anthony: What kind of reaction did you get? Was it what you imagined? Tell us about happened when the director got in touch.
Lora: I got all kinds of reactions from friends and family and viewers, some friends thought it was a bit hard hitting and others were very proud of Savanna.
I received an email from a Film Director asking if Savanna would like to take the lead roll in their film about racism, they wrote,
I was very impressed by the quality of your performances, particularly in “In Colour”, so I would love to cast you as the lead roll
Savanna and I were extremely excited and she accepted the part not long afterwards.
Share your success
It’s brilliant hearing about this success story, even just talking about how pleased you are about getting a part can lead people to your own showreel, headshot or website. After all that’s how we found out about Savanna’s success, Lora was shouting about it from the roof tops.
The lesson? Get your showreel and headshots up online, keep them up-to-date but most importantly of all share your success. You can be modest but make sure you celebrate the wins, they don’t come as often as we like but if you, a friend or a family member are talking about it on social media, then someone out there is reading it. Perhaps your next employer!
If you have had a similar success story you would like to share with us, get in touch, comment below, we would love to hear from you!
Eirian Cohen, founder of Northern Star Entertainment LTD (Northern Star Acting) gives her advice on the do’s and dont’s of the audition process.
A lot of actors are great when rehearsing scenes and performing monologues at home or in class but crumble when they get in front of the casting director.
Are you one of these people?
Or would you simply like some advice on how to make an even better impression at your audition? Read on…
Make Plans Before Your Audition
To help you stay as relaxed as possible, try to avoid making your whole day be about your audition. Make plans before you go to take your mind off it and do something afterwards to stop you going over and over your performance and what you could have improved on.
Wear Something That Reflects Your Character
Don’t wear a full costume (eg. Police uniform) but do wear something that reflects the role you are going for. You should always wear something you are comfortable in and avoid clothes that may distract from your performance.
Be On Time!
Not even on time… arrive 15 minutes early – BUT allow extra time in case of any hold ups.
Preparation Is Key!
A question I am often asked is, “How much should I prepare before an audition?” and the answer is simple.
As much as you possibly can.
If you received your sides well in advance, prepare to the best of your ability.
Learn your lines and practice them out loud in front of anybody who will listen until they are so engraved in your mind that you no longer need to think about them, enabling you to fully focus on your character.
If you are still worried about forgetting your lines, it is perfectly acceptable to take your sides in with you, but don’t keep looking at them unless it’s absolutely necessary.
If you received your sides as you walk in, you aren’t able to prepare in depth, and therefore you need to focus on the most important parts.
Answer the following questions:
- Who are you? (your character)
- What has happened immediately before the scene?
- What is your relationship with the other character(s) in the scene?
- What do you want?
- What is standing in your way?
- What will happen if you don’t get what you want?
If you have just received your sides, do not use the little time you have struggling to learn your lines – your character is what is most important.
It is advisable to always have a monologue prepared and ready to pull out at any given moment in case you are asked for one (it is more common to be asked to perform a monologue for theatre auditions, but people do occasionally ask for them at screen castings) – and the monologue should reflect the role you are auditioning for e.g. If it’s a drama, don’t perform a comedy monologue.
Don’t See Your Peers As Competition
Go and introduce yourself to the other auditionees. You may be able to help each other out and there’s a chance you may be called in together.
If you’ve already been talking, it’ll be easier to develop the chemistry which will strengthen your performance, and if you don’t, you have made a new contact.
As part of your preparation, do some relaxation exercises.
This will help prevent any physical or emotional blocks and will help you to focus.
Do avoid caffeine before your audition as this will have the opposite effect!
The Casting Director Wants You To Be Great!
Something that’s important to remember is that the casting director has invited you to the audition because there was something about you that they liked. They are under a lot of pressure themselves to find the right cast and they want you to do well.
Don’t Make Excuses
If the casting director asks how you are today, they don’t really want to know about your sleepless night, sore throat or journey from hell. As a professional actor, it’s your job to deliver a stunning performance regardless of how you feel and what is going on. Keep it positive.
Don’t Display Negativity Or Indifference
Always show enthusiasm and never be critical towards the project.
The biggest regret that actors have is not what they did in the audition, but what they didn’t do. Listen to your instincts and follow them.
Don’t Stop If You Make A Mistake
It’s not the end of the world if you make a mistake. Nobody gets everything right 100% of the time, but show professionalism by carrying on through that mistake. Unless you are asked to stop, improvise until you get back on track.
Don’t Ask For Feedback
Casting Directors have very limited time with each actor and don’t have time to chat and give feedback. Just say thank you and walk away.
After The Audition…
Once the audition is over, there is nothing more you can do. Replaying what you said and how you performed and wishing you had done differently won’t help you now with this audition. If you feel like you did your best, that is fantastic, but don’t pin your hopes on booking the job because you don’t know what the casting director was looking for.
Enjoy the casting process. You get the opportunity to meet new people and to do what you love – perform!
[tweetthis remove_twitter_handles=”true” remove_url=”true”]Enjoy the casting process. You get the opportunity to meet new people and to do what you love – perform![/tweetthis]
We met Lee last year at a headshot event arranged with Northern Star Acting, we had a great session but felt he could achieve so much more in the studio rather than the ten minutes face to face time we had. He came in and had a an awesome session, since then his career has really taken a positive change so we got back in touch and had a great chat about what his hopes were for the future.
Anthony: Tell me about your journey up until the point we shot your headshots.
Lee: It started off on Starnow, applying to every job and agency going, I did some research on loads of agencies and enquiring to them. Of course, being new and naïve to the harshness of the industry, I got scammed…a lot. I paid to join fake agencies and worst of all; I paid £1,000 for a portfolio, which wasn’t even good enough for actors headshots.
A year later and a little wiser, I reached a milestone by working with the real professionals. I had learned what to look for and what to avoid, something, in my opinion, you only learn by going through the worst.
More recently, I’ve been networking like crazy and am making a presence for myself on Facebook especially, I’ve now got some amazing friends internationally that are all helping me out and I’m now getting some awesome role like a lead in a feature up in Darlington and a speaking role in an awesome American feature too! I’ve got some amazing headshots which may of just got me some more work just thanks to them alone!
Anthony: Who are your favourite actors and why?
Lee: I have a few people who I follow, one is Hugh Jackman, an amazing actor and all around fantastic guy. In fact I even had an audition for the film ‘Pan’ which he starred in. There’s also Brad Pitt, for 2 reasons; the first reason is that he plays the roles I’d die to play as I get older and he is much more renowned in the industry. I’ve actually had an interview and questioned the ‘discoverer’ of Brad Pitt, Billy DaMota. Finally, a new girl in the industry who I follow and look up to a lot, Amy Kinder and I’m sure many of you have heard her name crop up here there and everywhere, she’s doing absolutely amazing and inspires me to keep pushing for my dream.
Anthony: What’s your dream role and why?
Lee: I have a soft spot for war films personally, I’d love to play in a mid-war themed storyline, play the new kid who is in the small group who grow close, he becomes wiser and stronger, eventually becoming the hero of a team, think ‘Fury’… yes starring Brad Pitt. Of course, I’d love to play the man in charge of the group, the leader as I get older. However, I’d love to play a romantic, kind caring man in love. A role so powerful and relatable to so many which would be an honour to play. I guess I’ve got a lot of roles I’d love to try out, these 2 in particular would really make my world.
Anthony: What advice could you give to someone looking to get an audition, how should they prepare?
Lee: Well, I’d say that the best way to get an audition is to network. It’s true what they say ‘people hire people, especially if they know you’. So get yourself out there and known. Also, this way you create bonds with so many more people and that’s what this industry is about.
To prepare for an audition? I tell myself not to think about it. Learn those lines, consider eye positioning and make your decisions so precise and detailed for yourself and make it ingrained in your memory, then relax. For film and TV, the best thing you can do, is act like you’re not acting! Don’t stress, keep calm and be you! That’s said so often people don’t think about what it means to be you, but it’s genuinely one of the most important things you can do.
Anthony: Thank you so much for sharing some of your knowledge, its fascinating getting an insight into how your journey has started out and seems to be rocketing! Before we finish tell us a fun fact we might not know about you!
Lee: I bet that most of you don’t know that I was actually a division 3 teenage European line dance champion. I’ve danced for 11 years and my mum is actually my main teacher. So I guess I’ve been a performer at heart all my life!
Showreelshareday took Twitter by storm earlier this month but it’s not the first time the hashtag was used to share actors showreels and it won’t be the last. Actor Kate Marie Davies took time out from her own filming and developing plans for the community event to speak with us about where the idea came from and what the plans are for the future. So grab a hot beverage, get comfy and listen to some tips and advice from the founder of the hashtag #showreelshareday.
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