Danny Winn – An Acting Master Class A-Z
- Written by Danny Winn
Now comes the lesson of the Bird’s and the Bee’s. Or maybe simply the B’s of acting? Due to popular demand inspired by the response to a recent article on auditioning, we are going to discuss “Breakdowns”. Not the mental type that many of us in the business have, but the actual acting breakdowns...lol Yes, those wonderful requests for roles that have been put out to you by your Agent or Manger. That were put out to them by the Casting Director. Who has received them from a Production that is in search of the perfect actor to fit that special role. Yes of course, breakdowns can be found directly open to the talent via the many public breakdown services. Ah, those wonderful companies that accept a monthly fee so that you may access the Breakdowns and directly apply yourself. If you are an aspiring actor, I highly recommend this as it puts you more in charge of your submissions. It also will take one of the middlemen out of the equation. Also, with the advent of social media there are many other avenues to find many fledgling productions and their movie Breakdowns. With self-submission you have access to many more Breakdown opportunities.
Contrary to what so many think, you do not need to have representation to find a breakdown or submit to one. Do some submission leg work yourself rather than simply waiting for your Agent/Manager to call. You will also be bypassing that middleman, and that oh so wonderful favorites list.
This will be explained further down the line of this article.
The definition of the “Breakdown” as described by Barbizon.com is “A breakdown is a write-up of the project that includes a synopsis or description of the project in addition to detailed descriptions of all the characters/roles in the script they are currently casting for. ... When casting wants to see an actor, they will schedule an audition via Breakdown Services.” This is such a great article to follow last weeks article on Auditions is it not? Who knew! Soooo, this is a fairly good description of what a breakdown is, and some may add that this list of information is all encompassed in a
Breakdown as well:
*The name of the project
*The description of the project
*The name of the character
*The age range of the character
*The gender of the character
*A description of the character
*The name of the casting director or casting company
*The pay rate
*The location where filming will take place
*The dates and times for auditions to be held
Well forget all of that. There are very few times in my experiences that I have ever seen a Breakdown that heavily detailed. At least not when it reached the Actor. This leaves the actor with a great deal of fortune telling. But wait, there is more to think about as well. An actor must always remember that much about this business is very subjective. This is where the true talents shall shine. You see, someone in Production describes a role request to a Casting Director. Who then interprets that description to theirs and sends it to Agents and Managers. Who then will send their interpretation to the talent. I remember the days of Elementary School where the Teacher whispered a sentence in my ear. I then whispered it to the next student’s ear. By the time it reached the 3rd student in line it had already changed immensely. By the time it reached that last student it was unrecognizable. A wonderful form of miscommunication has begun. That middleman I discussed earlier has reared his head….ba ha ha! Now mind you it is not that bad. It is just that any little tidbit of information that an actor has can be extremely helpful. You will rarely see a deep synopsis, and you will rarely get a large amount of character description that will lend you a very amazing in-depth idea of what and who the character is. The good news is that as you become a more known working actor you will deal more directly with the Production. This will lend you much more opportunity to receive a full script and a better idea of just what the heck is going on. Have no fear for with a dream, talent and persistence you will arrive at that moment. Until then what will you do?
Hmmmm…I seem to be sliding down the slippery slope of auditioning. #PullingbacktheReins. Let us focus this article on personal submission to Breakdowns. As an actor you are hungry and passionate. You want that next role to show how your talent shines. You hit all the breakdown services looking for what roles you may fit. You are an actor! You can fit anything. Hmmm, there is one calling for a fifty-year-old, medium build, six feet tall. Ok, so I am thirty, a bit on the thin side and five eight. I am perfect!! They can make me look older, gain weight and wear lifts. It is all about my acting when they see me work my magic in the audition! Please do not do this. Only submit to the breakdown that best describes you. You will not believe how many submissions I have received on a Breakdown for a production of mine where the actor is not even close to a well described character breakdown. #Shakemyhead. An improper submission will sour me for a long time with an actor that does this. It shows an amateurish nature and lack of experience. The initial thought of the Production or the Casting Director will be that you are unable to follow direction. If you are incapable to even follow the direction of a simple Breakdown, how in the world would you be at following the direction of the Director and or Production? Study the breakdown seriously and closely. Do not think that it is a numbers game. The more I submit to, the better my chances. Less is more in this matter when carefully approached.
As you look through Breakdowns please do not simply look at the role description. Of course, do make sure to meet the physical characteristic requirements of the role. But also look at the bigger picture. Take a close look at the film project. What is the subject matter and the genre? Is it a Horror movie? If so, you may be expected to do some extreme acting. Slashing, gashing, screaming, heavy emotional, high energy level stuff. Is this something you have had experience with or any training? Take a look at the previous film projects by this Production. Are the film projects they are affiliated with of the level or quality you desire or fit? Once again pause, and think is it truly something you can or want to perform at this moment of your career. For a western, can you ride a horse, sling a prop gun or carry an accent. Apply your consideration to all aspects of the film and not simply the looks. Think about your experiences in your life that may help you fit best to a certain breakdown. Something you can relate or feel close to. You may fall into that trap of wanting to submit to anything just to get that one audition and a chance. Instead imagine what would happen if you were picked for an audition, and you burn that audition because it was not the proper fit for you. You have now possibly turned off the Casting Director and or Production. I will tell you that CD’s and Productions are terribly busy people. If you have them at the point to where they feel that you misrepresented yourself for a role or audition, they may glance over you in the future. It will be felt that you did not take their time or the project seriously. Or once again, that following direction thing which is a huge pet peeve of mine and most of the industry. Do not go down that rabbit whole.
Last but not least, and there is always much more. #Smile Keep your CD’s, Managers and Agents happy. There is always a built-in preference toward certain actor’s by Casting Directors, Agents, etc. Yes, they have favorites the same as all humanity. They will usually prefer those who follow direction and instruction. It makes their life and task much easier. Be polite, be cool, send them proper headshots for fitting roles. Give them your qualifications of things that you are actually qualified to do. Give them a list of experiences that you are actually experienced in. Submit for the proper roles in the proper Breakdowns so that you too will become a favorite and be on their short list. In so many aspects of this business it is always a team effort. Help them to help you and vice versa.
All my advice, humor, ideas, and preserves are based on my own personal experiences, mistakes and so on. I hold no all-knowing claims of guaranteed successes as it will always be different for each person. What I apply is an outline to help you succeed. You must always use your own clever wits to ride the eb and flow of this crazy wonderful Craft. It is all up to you my hungry and clever acting mates. Go out now to reap the wild wind and take the world by storm!
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