Amy Lyndon’s Advice to Actors on Cold Reading & Booking Jobs

When you are starting out in your career, you must first understand that it is a career, not a job. Your job is to work your career. A career spans a lifetime and the only way that you will fail, is if you quit. With that said, make sure you think of yourself as if you are in training for the Hollywood Olympic Committee. You need to practice everyday. Go out on as many auditions as possible so that you become an expert at booking. Learn how to work a room. Learn how to work your techniques. Learn how to book. Keep your work simple.

There is no place for ego. Always remember that the story comes first. That’s why when the writer is in the room they always say, “He/She read it exactly as I wrote it. That’s the character!” Don’t make anything up to impress them. If you respect the writing and understand why you’re in the script, then you’ll know who you are and what your place is in the story. A lot of actors want so much to be remembered that they overshoot the audition by becoming more important than the series regular or the star of the feature. Unless you have your own series and you’ve become a major film star, you’re simply there to move the story along. Don’t become more important than the material. If you’re serving drinks in the scene, then you’re just a cocktail waitress. That’s it. Also, be careful of judging the material. If you do that then you might as well cancel the audition because you’re never going to get inside of it because you’re too busy outside making comments on it’s stupidity. You will never book that way. It’s sad to think that that’s all you are in this business, but you really need to accept that you are simply a clean vessel of pure emotion just lending yourself to the material to channel the character from the writer’s intent. Spend time knowing where emotions are located in your body so that you can easily tap into it at a moments notice. You are an instrument that needs to be practiced every day. Pick an emotion and journal where it is for you. When you’ve located the button, tap into it, sit with it and write it down for future use. There are tons of emotions to choose from. You might not get to it in a day. Once you’ve located it, exercise it and understand where it is for you. The only difference between a good actor and a brilliant actor is depth of feel.

Discipline is the key to building momentum. You need to think of yourself as a business. If you don’t work your business one day then your doors are closed for that day and you’re limiting your revenue. You can be a small business or a huge corporation. How much time are you willing to put into your business? Are your pictures and resumes easy to get to? Do you have a designated spot in your home to work your business? Make sure that you have all your tools ready to send out.

When you get the audition, make sure that you’re prepared.Do you know exactly where you are going?Map it out the night before.Lay out your clothes.Stay off the phone. If you’re still going over your script in your car on the way over and in the office, then you didn’t do enough homework.Don’t look at anyone in the outer office.The moment that you catch someone’s eye, they will talk to you.Bring music or put your head down and close your ears to all the noise and concentrate on what you’re going to do.Find out who is signed up before you and if you can, wait outside the room and go straight in as soon as they walk out.Do not engage.

Focus on who you are and what the place looks like in the scene. Make sure you have a strong personalization and opening emotion. If you don’t, then you will pick up the energy in the room. Don’t be concerned with how the casting director is reading. Listen from your point of view as the character as to what they are saying, not how they are saying it. The environment, the opening emotional moment and your personalization with keep you safe in the room.

Watch as much television and film as humanly possible. If you don’t understand the style and tone, you’ll never seem like you’re already on the show. Pick up TV Guide and see who is working. What are they wearing? What are the popular hairstyles? If you don’t look like you’re on the show, then why should they cast you? Try not to extend the imagination of the people who are hiring you. Give them what they are asking of you. How are you going to have any points of reference if you don’t know what is going on? Download a script a day. Break it down and do the research. Look up on IMDB pro the other shows the producers worked on. In television, they have it just as difficult a job as you do crossing over. If it’s an Aaron Sorkin show, then it’s a particular style that the network buys from him. Know what the casting director has worked on. What type of actors do they usually go for? If you’re a very real raw actor, don’t expect to work on Desperate Housewives unless you change your own personal style for the audition. Who are you and where do you fit into the requirements of the given medium? Maybe you’re just a feature film actor. If you do comedy, make sure you have tons of stand-up on your resume. Sitcoms usually star stand-up comedy people. Unless of course, you’re already a movie star and you back your way onto your own television show. Information is power.

The brilliance is in the specifics. Every line of dialogue is a separate thought. If you want to be an interesting actor, go over every moment and detail and cover it with deep understanding. Every scene is like a song. Listen for the music of each note. Especially in film auditions, take your moments. Circle action. Action will tell you what you are doing. Sometimes you can include action in your audition. If the script tells you that the character is making a sandwich but the dialogue is not talking about the sandwich, do not make a sandwich in your audition. If you are drunk and drinking wine, then drink wine. Never bring any props to your audition unless it’s already on you like a cell phone. The stronger illusion you create in the room, the better the ride. Set it up and let it go. Don’t be afraid to go for it. Believe me, if you don’t, someone else will. Why should they take your part? You already inconvenienced yourself to get to the audition, why not just get the job? Which would you prefer? Hitting a 10+ read in the room or knocking it out of the ballpark in your car on the way home? If you’re thinking about the audition for days afterwards and asking for feedback from your representatives, then you didn’t do your homework. You know when you’ve hit it hard. You know when you’ve given your best. You don’t need approval or feedback from anyone else about how you did. You know. Be honest with yourself. Never show your mistakes in the room. Learn to be that competitive gymnast. How many times do they fall during their routine and always end up standing strong with their arms held high in the air and their backs swayed and stretched out like it was the best performance of their lives?

After you’ve done all your work on the scene according to the writer’s intent, don’t forget your signature. Remember that you are unique. There is only one you. Put your special spin on it. Personality sells tickets! Make it personal. Figure out where this is for you. How can you relate to where the character is coming from? You can do all the homework in the world, but if you don’t truly understand what is going on with this person, how can you play it? Sometimes this step takes the longest amount of time. Allow yourself the time to understand. Stay out of your head and into your heart. The more information you have about the story, emotions and the character, the stronger you will feel about what you are doing.

“The Actor must approach acting like an Olympic Athlete, the more you practice the necessary skills – the more you will book. When a high level of discipline and concentration on the work is achieved, you will see incredible results.” Amy Lyndon

The Lyndon Technique
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coldreadingclasses@yahoo.com

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