by Neva J. Howell
What is Subtext?
How to Cry on Cue
Need a New Monologue?
If you are an actor, you have heard of Fincannon Casting. If you are an actor in the south, you have probably read for The Fincannons at some point. I've read numerous times for Lisa, Craig and Mark Fincannon. I came across a terrific interview with Mark and Sharon and wanted to share it with other actors who might want a heads up on how to read for these major casting directors.
The Dinner Project is actually a terrific site to learn about many casting directors and I really like their approach. They have the casting directors sit down to a meal, in a casual environment, and just chat. It really is a nice experience and I kinda wanta eat dinner with them, ya know? This paricularl Dinner Project video starts with some very interesting history on how Craig and Mark Fincannon found their way into casting and then the topic turns to acting, of course, and auditioning for the Fincannons in particular.
I want to thank the folks at the Dinner Project for providing such a valuable inside look at the casting process, and to Mark and Sharon Fincannon for being willing to not eat (making a little joke there but they were always answering questions! I did see them grab a drink of what looked like something delicious though and I'm sure they ate between takes.) and to spend so much time sharing their wisdom for the acting community.
Just a few highlights:
* Don't ask about the frame: This one surprised me and I've been guilty of asking this very question more than once. I thought it would be helpful for me, as an actor, to know how tightly the frame was so that I could move accordingly. However, Mark made a very good point. These are professionals. They know how to frame and if there's a problem with framing, they will let the actor know.
* Don't assume you will shake hands with anyone: This one, I learned in Los Angeles. I was very enthusiastic and energetic when I started acting and would stick out my hand with gusto. I had one casting director glare at me with what I can only call disdain and say with more wry aggravation than I can convey in writing "I don't shake hands." It shriveled me, literally. I began physically dwindling as I backed away and, of course, I botched the audition. Some writers, producers, directors on a call back may very well extend their hands but I learned the hard way that it's best to let them take the lead.
* Respect in the waiting area - Mark and Sharon both addressed how important it is to maintain quiet while waiting to read. I personally have had to leave a waiting area before, either because actors were going over their lines with another actor very loudly next to me or just because someone was using the time to chat and laugh with friends. I often exit if I've got time to do so, just to focus on my upcoming read. As Mark says, and I'm paraphrasing, each actor is different. While some just chat right up until the camera comes on, others need quiet time to prepare. Big picture, though, is that the casting directors need the recording to be void of loud chatting and laughter in the waiting area. Often, the wait area is adjacent to the filming area so keeping this in mind is important. Of course, this one isn't just for the Fincannons. I would suspect any casting director would appreciate quiet in the holding room.
* Do the same thing in callback that you did at the first audition, unless directed otherwise: I've always tended to do this. Mark says that the way you did it the first time is what got you the call back so do the same thing, unless they ask you to do something different. Mark even says wear the same outfit. I also do this whenever I can. If I audition for something, I go so far as to hang the entire audition outfit together and keep it together until I get a callback or I'm sure the callbacks are over.
This is just a few of the juicy inside tips you'll get by watching this video. Highly recommend the Dinner Project. Check there to see if your casting directors have done an interview, before your next audition. Here's the Dinner Project authors page. You'll see a link to the Fincannons interview in it's entirety (I recommend watching it all!) or certain segments of the video having to do with various topics of interest to actors. In addition to topics I spoke of you'll see info on theatre-trained vs. film-trained actors, local vs. non-local actors, info on using props, what to wear to an audition and what not to wear, etc.
Resource from my favorite acting guru: I first learned about the Chekhov technique when I lived in Los Angeles and took classes with Lisa Dalton, of the Chekhov Connection. Unlike other classes, that felt a lot like work, Lisa's classes were major fun and also resulted in some very effective acting skillss. What I love most about Chekhov's acting exercises were that they employed imagination and right-brain thinking far more than left-brain analysis. No need to count beats or substitute some painful personal memory to reach the truth of an emotional scene. Love this stuff! Check out the chekhov technique for a fun approach to the craft!