It’s a delicate thing. It only takes a shift of your weight, the flip of your hair behind your ear, or a glance at your sides that breaks their suspension of disbelief. You know – the magic that keeps them in the story, living it with you.
Not to mention the competition you already have with their phone flashing text messages, the assistant coming in, the headshot and resume sitting in front of them. That’s all they need to feel like you didn’t hold their attention and say those dreaded words, “Thank you. NEXT!”
Just because they’re watching your Self-Tape, it doesn’t make any of those distractions go away. It’s worse. They don’t have your physical presence to demand that they pay attention. So it’s easy for them to just swipe to the next actor.
How Do I Keep Casting’s Attention?
- Be Undeniable.
- Have an intention.
Show business is tough. There are thousands of actors vying for every role. Literally – thousands! Stewart Stone Casting said that there are over 2000 actors being submitted for each role. And that was before all auditions went online. Now they can take submissions from anywhere in the world. And they will! And they do.
Casting will do just about anything to find the perfect actor for that role. So, the actor that books the job has to hold the attention of casting. And not just casting, then there’s the director, the producers and if it’s TV, the network executives (“The Suits.”)
This is how you book work and it’s HARD to do.
You can’t be just a good actor or even a great actor. You have to be undeniable! I cannot say this enough. YOU HAVE TO BE UNDENIABLE! The competition is too stiff.
What is undeniable? Undeniable definition:
1. To be incontestable – which means absolutely no one can argue the fact that you’re perfect for the role.
2. Unquestionably excellent or genuine.
I love the second definition because that is what defines great acting – unquestionably excellent and genuine: authentic, natural, believable. That’s what everyone wants in an actor – not only genuine on camera but when the camera is off and they’re dealing with you as a business associate.
Let’s Talk Acting
How do you make your Self-Tapes and in person auditions UNDENIABLE so that you hold your viewers’ attention? All the time.
Have an Intention!
Yeah, maybe you use different terminology – like objective or goal in the scene. Exactly. I call it intention.
Why Is an Intention So Important?
Because most actors take their intention for granted – meaning most of the time they don’t even use one in their scenes. In the years I’ve been working with actors as a director on film and theatre and as an acting teacher in Hollywood – including working at the SAG/AFTRA Conservatory, I’ve seen a lot of auditions, Self-Tapes, and cold reads.
I think about 1 in 100 actors tell me that they used an intention in their performance. So just think – if you actually have an intention in a scene – that increases your odds of standing out in the room by 98%. Okay, forget the math – but get my point? That’s a lot!
Most actors are focusing on what they’re feeling, an emotion or what they want to play in the scene.
How weird, right? An acting coach in Hollywood who doesn’t talk about emotions? That’s right. Because emotions are a by-product of intention.
Think about it – do you believe the performance of someone who is trying to cry, focusing on themselves and their pain in the scene. No, my experience tells me that you won’t believe that performance because it’s manufactured and forced. When we “play” emotions, we are forcing them or indicating the emotion. What’s so powerful is to watch someone who is living in an experience, and they start to cry – but their intention is to try to stop crying.
That’s the funny thing about acting – often the most natural performances are when the actor is trying not to do it. i.e., if you want to play drunk – work hard to appear sober. If you’re having an argument in a scene – don’t fight. If you follow me on IG @intentionalacting or watch my Youtube videos, one of the things you’re going to notice is that I don’t talk about emotions. Better yet, subscribe to my Youtube channel and you can practice what I’m teaching with a mini-acting session with my “Try It” series.
How Do You Pick a Good Intention?
Good Script Analysis is key! I teach my students The 8 Keys of Intentional Script Analysis to break down and figure out what casting, the director, writer, and producers are looking for in the role. This way my actors are giving production what they want. Remember actors just have one part. They are part of the whole, and if you don’t know what the whole picture (the TV show or film) is about then you run the risk of making a choice that has nothing to do with the big picture and they can’t give you the part – even if you are the most talented. Because someone, the network, the studio, the EP will contest your audition because – they didn’t believe your performance.
If I Choose To “Play Something” Is That Having an Intention?
To act is to do something not to “play something. Amateur actors are “playing a character.” When I say “playing” I see actors who are standing on the outside of their character, judging their character and trying to “play” an emotion – what they think is a choice.
A great actor lives in the shoes of their character, stands in their character’s choices and believes in what they are doing. Operative word there – DOING. Acting is doing.
My definition of intention – for Intentional Acting – is: What do I need the other person to do or say?
How Do I Know What My Character Is Doing in The Scene?
Well, it’s not only about the intention. First you have to know what the scene is about, what the conflict is and how you personally relate to the scene before you pick your intention. This is The 9 Questions of Intentional Acting.
And a good intention is defined as: What do I need the other person to do or say? Just like when you were in the grocery store as a kid – you had an intention. What did you want your mom or dad to buy you or say or do? Well, I wanted candy. So I wanted them to say “Yes Loren, here’s the candy bar.” And then see them reach over and hand it to me.” But 9 times out of 10 they said, “No.” And that was the conflict in the scene.
I think acting is simple, but not easy. So, keep your intention simple. Ask yourself: what do I want the other character to do or say? And then fight for it in the scene.
Is an Action the Same as an Intention?
I don’t think so. This is an example of what I think an action is. “I want ice cream.” There’s a want and a thing. But an Intention: What do I need the other person to do or say? Would be: “I want you to give me your ice cream” See the specificity of it? A good intention is powerful because it tells your body and mind everything it needs to know to – do it. There it is TO DO. Acting is doing.
This definition of intention also includes the other person in the scene – making your intention more compelling because it connects you to the other actor in the scene.
How Do You Make an Undeniable Choice?
An undeniable choice is rooted in intention. Now you know why the name of my technique is Intentional Acting. When an actor is clear and specific in intention – everything follows – your voice, your body, your facial expressions and your gestures. You know what to do next. It’s like following the breadcrumbs. But only if the intention is specific and it affects the other person in the scene.
What do you want them to do or say? Very specific. I’ve seen intention work over and over again. I had one student that had a brilliant performance and when I asked him what his intention was – which he had chosen based on his expert script analysis – it was to get the other actor to give him the bracelet off his hand. It was amazing what that very specific, tangible, physical and visceral intention did to make all his choices Undeniable.
So, you want to put your unique stamp on your audition and leave the director wanting to see more? Be true to the story, true to you and connect it to your intention. Unique is you.
Remember – there is only one you and when you’re authentically you, grounded by thorough preparation, facts, and confidence — that’s when you’re UNDENIABLE!
Loren E. Chadima: At thirteen, Loren auditioned for ABC television, but didn’t get called back. Her nerves always got the best of her. Loren quit acting and became a director. Her films won several awards, and one was shortlisted for the Academy Awards. Creating and teaching Intentional Acting gave back Loren’s dream of acting. She recently booked and shot roles in two feature films and a commercial.
Intentional Acting has worked for many actors. It has launched the careers of actors like Madison Hu in BIZAARDVARK; Bex Taylor-Klaus in THE KILLING; and Isabella Balbi in AMERICAN CRIME STORY. Loren was voted as one of “The Best Acting Coaches in the United States.”