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The Pros and Cons of a Subtle Audition

August 29, 2016

Former HCandF acting teacher David Dean Bottrell, during his free acting seminar, used to frequently tell actors that when auditioning for roles, it helps really "bring it" and deliver the most pronounced, and in some cases, extreme versions of a character to give filmmakers a taste of your range as an actor.  The logic behind "bringing it" during your audition is simple:  An an actor, if you can produce a very dramatic performance within the confines of a casting room, then most filmmakers will naturally assume that you have the talent, and the ability to dial-it-down if they seek a more subtle performance.  


Conversely, if you're a filmmaker that, throughout the day, encounters a few "extreme" auditions, it's important to keep in mind that actors may simply be showing you their range during a casting session.  As a a result we highly encourage filmmakers to immediately give direction to actors if they feel that an actor's performance is getting a bit too dramatic, or is missing the mark.  


Let's face it- both actors and filmmakers are very well aware that they have about 5 minutes, on average to make a memorable impression.  As a result, the limitations and time restraints of this experience may very well inspire overly-dramatic performances, which, with the proper direction (in and out of the casting room), actors can be molded to create the subtle, nuanced characters that a filmmaker is seeking.  


So while providing a memorable performance in a casting room is very important- there is one exception to this rule.  If you're an actor and you have knowledge that the filmmaker you're about to audition for doesn't appreciate actors that paint in loud, bold colors, then perhaps it's time to start painting in pastels.  

Consequently, actors should use their budget regarding when to amp up a performance based on any history they might have with a particular filmmaker, and filmmakers should factor in the possibility of an actor over-doing it to simply showcase his or her talents and abilities.  

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