Casting Lessons

This week I cast a project for an educational piece on Veterans dealing with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The talent (actor) needed to memorize some challenging medical language. This is not uncommon when doing educational pieces.

I cast an actor who not only had a picture in a doctor's lab coat, but claimed to work in the medical field and be comfortable with medical lingo. I auditioned her, and in both her reading, and in an improvisation session, she fit the part.  But when she showed up, with two days with the script, she could not get through one page without asking for help with her lines. What happened today was truly an unfortunate lesson that cost production time and money. The talent was so unprepared as well as extremely nervous, that we had to re-shoot three hours of work, using one of the clients. We let her go and had to start from the beginning when we should have been wrapping. I felt incredibly responsible for this production set-back and frustrated for the waste of time. What could I have done differently? I could have stressed the importance of confidently memorizing the lines--but this should be a given for all actors. This is what a professional actor should automatically do! The reality is that everyone has a bad day, everyone has a failure here and there, so we need to get over it.

But here's my tips for ACTORS! 

Do your job. Rehearse. Take classes. Take more classes. Get your friend to give you feedback. Put yourself on camera, see what you look like. When you do make a mistake, take ownership. Blaming external circumstances, or the amount of time to prep is shirking responsibility. Some jobs book with less than twenty-four hours to prep, but that's show business, you make it work. DO NOT THINK you can just show up to set and not know your lines. Production cost a lot of money, and when actors slow it down, and is not pretty.

Here's what I do:

I use my iPhone to record lines and rehearse with myself in the car on the way to auditions/shoots. I will stay up and go over my script as much as I can, and I will get on set--and keep my script close to keep going over my lines.  You have to do the work. People remember bad and unprepared performances. I would never cast this actor again, and if there was a YELP for talent, I'd be writing a review.