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Get Your Body In Motion
Audition boosting advice from the CDs of Paladino Casting
Written by: Kelly Calabrese
Ready, set go…
From head to toe, it's time to get your energy flowing because action and determination will lead to success in entertainment.
“You have to be persistent,” says Kristen Paladino of Paladino Casting. “Even if you have an agent or manager, you have to be forthright about what you want. That will help you move in the right direction.”
Kristen Paladino moved her company in the right direction by jumping in, thinking on her feet, and building a strong reputation that spread by word of mouth.
“We started very run and gun,” says Kristen. “That's how it happened, very quickly. Now we have been around for eight years and Lori (Malkin) has been with me for about six years.”
As a full service casting agency, Paladino Casting places actors in films, television, commercials, music videos, print, industrials, and new media for countless clients including Reebok, ATT, Bon Jovi, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Target.
Kristen and Lori know how to keep momentum going and they are always willing to share their energy boosting insight with New York actors.
Here's what they have to say about going the distance in this ever changing business and how to make it a full body experience…
(K) = Kristen Paladino and (L) = Lori Malkin
Q: Why is it important for actors to think on their feet?
K: Because we can throw anything at them and it helps the director's vision if they can see the actor's transition well, be spontaneous and take direction well.
Q: How can an actor put their right foot forward when auditioning?
K: Make sure you leave everything else outside of the room. Come in and just do what you are there to do because I can read it in a second, if you're not present.
L: I really love it when people are prepared. We want to see what you come up with. We had an actor come in for a film audition and she brought in a bag of tricks. When she did her scene she started taking things out, was really into it and the director loved it. Preparation says volumes about someone. Think outside the box. If you are playing a doctor, have a coat. Little things can show us that you thought about the character. It's really good to focus on.
Q: How else can an actor make a right or wrong first move?
L: Always be prepared before you sign in. There's nothing worse than my calling “Jane” and see that she's in a corner prepping.
Come in, get yourself together, change, fix your make up, get your sides, and then sign in; unless you get there and there is an hour wait but we are usually right on schedule.
Don't ask questions to the casting director about what the job is. If you have questions about the job, you can ask the assistant outside or call the office. You don't have to ask me what the rate is, what's the project, what are the shoot dates? You should have all that info or find out about it another time. Know the situation before you go in.
Also, I am not a big fan of chit chat unless you have something like ‘I saw you last month for ATT, thanks for calling me back in.' Or ‘I have a showcase next week. It would be great if you could make it.' Those are professional things but if I'm seeing hundreds of people, I can't talk about the weather.
And never chew gm.
Q: How do you keep a career going?
L: To sustain a life in this business takes a lot of effort. I feel that taking classes and meeting agents is really good. It gives us a chance to see what you can do. If you kill it, great we will call you in. We are busy. We are full service and work on a lot of different things so there is a lot of opportunity.
Also, we have an actress friend that does a ‘get organized' type thing that is a gem of information. She has a notebook and keeps track of all auditions over time, putting down the audition, what direction she was given, how she felt about it, and what she was wearing. There are days when you have several auditions and if you can keep yourself organized with a notebook it can really help. It's also a way to see progress over time. It's introspective and can help you become a better person.
Often actors wonder ‘should I be sending postcards?' and many have a schedule of when they do mailings. I would say to only send postcards if you know I have a job going on. Say, ‘I see you have this job, please consider me for it.' And I do, that has happened.
Q: How much swagger should an actor have?
K: You have to walk in with confidence or you can be crushed in seconds by anything we say or don't say to you. You have to have confidence to know how to handle things.
L: But you don't want to take it too far. We had this actor who we've seen for years who is really strong. I never would have called him cocky but when our clients did I felt that we should talk to him about it. It was uncomfortable but he walked away with good knowledge on how to change his demeanor. And we've called him in again because he's good.
Q: Can an actor seem too new or nervous?
L: If you are green, you just are. But sometimes you can get a genius moment out of someone because they are green. They can give you a moment that is so real. My focus is to get those real moments in everything we do, something that we can connect with.
Q: Any other body language signs that you notice?
L: Going through the motion of auditions can show. You don't want to be going through the motions. That's not how I live my life. I love what I do and that's how you should feel about acting. Figure out what you love and if you want to do theatre, film, print? Knowing your niche will help and agents are really good for that. They give you an overall of what you are really right for.
Q: How can an actor take more control of their career?
K: There are so many jobs online. You can always be submitting yourself and be pro-active. If you want an agent or manger to take care of your career, then I don't think the passion is there. I know a lot of actors who get auditions on their own and then tell their agents about them to handle the contracts.
A Sharp Eye
Q: What should actors look at when they get sides?
L: I think it piggy backs on what I said in regards to thinking outside of the box - reading something and thinking ‘what can I bring?'
Ask, “hey I am thinking about something can I try it?” I think it's amazing if you want to try something new.
K: If you are looking at the sides it's so important to visualize things and expand from there. Especially with commercials, you don't often have a character description but you can take the sides and make it your own. Show us ways of taking a role to another level.
Word of Mouth
Q: Does an actor's reputation get around to other casting directors?
K: We have a list of people and it's like our world of who we like based on performances.
And I'll call up agents and say ‘this person is great.' I try to make those arrangements if I think a person is at the right point and ready for it.
L: The casting community is very small. Stuff gets around by word of mouth but probably more so with interoffice. I am in most auditions and so people ask me if anyone stood out.
Q: How important is listening during an audition?
L: Listening is really important. There is nothing worse than giving someone direction and seeing them tune out.
K: When we are giving feedback it's extremely important to listen whether it's good or bad, because it will take you to another level. Constructive criticism is important and we don't hold back. We are in the room to make you better and to make us better.
If you are in the moment and really understanding what we are saying, it helps because there will be a director working with you and you have to know how to make those subtle changes.
Q: How does an actor's heart help them succeed in this business?
K: Heart will balance you. You have to understand that this is a business, it's not personal. There are a lot of pressures on our end to get what we need. There are choices that people make that we are not fully in control of when it comes down to choosing an actor for a role.
And I think you have to have heart because it makes you human. If you don't then you just become superficial and not grounded enough to handle this. If you look at New York and LA I would say that New York has more heart. We are real. We communicate differently.
Mind Over Matter
Q: When should an actor be in their head versus outside of their head?
K: A lot of actors over think. Sometimes when we put up breakdowns we will leave out information because actors will over think and I want simplicity to come across.
Actors are so worried about making the right choice, about what we want. Take that character and make it what you want. If we want to change it, we will.
L: I think you have to balance. We tend to see the wheels turning a lot in auditions and there's nothing worse than that. Use your mind to prep and then leave it at the door.
Come in all heart, all gut. Come in raw.
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