Audition Strategies by Mark Brandon
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Do Push-Ups and Sit-Ups for the Eyeballs

Ever exercise your cold-reading motor skills? They're often neglected or entirely overlooked by far too many actors. Yet, they comprise the single most important feature of acting. After all, until they change the rules, you have to audition better than you can act.

You can't look forward to being on any film set unless you first look good in the office. That requires staying off the page as much as possible, fully engaging the other reader during your audition. The preparation it takes to be an able cold reader is not unlike the discipline necessary for developing muscles. You not only need to develop them in order to win at more auditions, you need to practice regularly to keep them consistently strong.

Here's how: If you don't have a script available, find a book and make sure the type size on its pages is somewhat close to that on scripts, but never larger. Then, designate a single point on your wall as a visual target. (A light switch makes a good one if you're seated.) Begin by looking down and silently reading at least three or four words from a line or sentence. Then, look up and deliver those words out loud only at your target.

It doesn't matter if you can just pick up a few words at first. In a very short while, you'll begin to notice you can pick up more words with little difficulty. And within three or four weeks, you'll clearly recognize a vast difference. Not only will you be able to pick up entire sentences, but your speed at doing so will also increase.

In most cases, ten to fifteen minutes a day is sufficient. Less than ten minutes hardly helps, while more than fifteen invariably strains the eyes. Also, if you'd like to accelerate your progress, do this exercise once in the morning and once in the evening.

Cold reading may not be acting per se, but don't forget that acting is exactly like professional sports: your game is only as good as your fundamentals.

The preceding was an excerpt from the best selling acting book, Winning Auditions - 101 Strategies for Actors (Limelight Editions, NY) written by Mark Brandon. Mark is a native Californian who now makes his home in Vancouver, BC. He has appeared in over 100 commercials, films and TV series.

Copyright © Mark Brandon. Used with permission of the author. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or distributed.

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