When Winston Duke auditioned for the role of M’Baku in Marvel’s Black Panther, he didn’t even know what he was auditioning for.
His agent told him he was reading for an “untitled Marvel movie.”
Duke assumed he was reading for some side project that wouldn’t see the light of day. He figured that Marvel would want a big name actor got the lead roles in their potential blockbuster films.
It wasn’t until the third round of auditions with writer-director Ryan Coogler and Executive Producer Nate Moore in the room that Duke finally realized he was auditioning for Black Panther.
And that’s when the nerves kicked in.
Now, Winston Duke was a graduate of the Yale drama program and estimated that he probably had 300-400 auditions under his belt. Many of them only lasted about two minutes.
His Black Panther audition, on the other hand, lasted 40 minutes.
What happened during those 40 minutes is something we’ll be covering in my upcoming On-Camera Audition Intensive on March 16th.
There’s a reason that Duke’s audition ran long. It’s something directors do when they’re trying to decide whether or not they can work with an actor.
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Two reasons–Zachary Levi and Chris Pratt.
Zachary Levi is currently the title character in the upcoming Warner Bros. movie Shazam!, and of course Chris Pratt’s most well-known gig is playing Starlord in the Guardians of the Galaxy films.
But the thing is, before they got those roles, each of them actually passed on the audition.
Zachary Levi tells the story here ( el2.convertkit-mail2.com/c/lmu5wwgrlnbmhk30r4/qvh8h8u743k8pq/aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZGFpbHlhY3Rvci5jb20vYWN0b3JzLW9uLWFjdGluZy96YWNoYXJ5LWxldmktYXVkaXRpb25pbmctZm9yLXNoYXphbS8= ) of how his agency got him an audition for the role, but he couldn’t figure out why. He knew that Duane “The Rock” Johnson had already been cast as the villain, so he figured the casting directors were probably looking for either a big star, or someone big in stature, to play the superhero leading character.
So, he passed on the audition.
A couple of months go by, and he saw the audition notice again. He took another look at the audition sides and decided there was one scene that he might possibly be OK reading for.
So he threw himself on camera and sent it in to the creative team.
A couple days later, his agency called to say that they loved his audition, and less than a week later,
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Auditions are always nervewracking.
As actors, we’re already nervous about things like lines, and being judged by other people. So it doesn’t help when you have some @$$hole director that likes to mess with actors on top of all that, just to see how they’ll react.
I remember an audition with one director like that.
It was for the world premiere of a new musical. I already didn’t want to be there because the premise of the show didn’t sound any good (turned out the critics agreed with me, but that’s another story…), but the Artistic Director of the theatre really pushed for me to go audition because they flew some bigwig director in from London.
I walked in to the audition. The director looked at me, looked at my headshot, looked back at me and proceeded to tell me that I looked nothing like my headshot.
OK… (this is when I started to get nervous)
He flipped it over and started looking over my resume. “Oh, you’ve just done Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” he said.
I proudly started to tell him about the production, which I had done at the oldest (and one of the most prestigious) continuously running summer stock theatres in the country.
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People like to overcomplicate the whole filmmaking process, but when it comes down to it, you really only need 5 things to make a film:
* a story (your script) * your vision of how that story will look * a camera * an NLE (that’s ‘non-linear editing system’ for the noobs, like Final Cut or Premiere) * an audience
It really is that simple.
Story is always first, because without that everything else falls apart.
Your vision is next because that’s going to determine how everything else on this list comes together. Whatever choices you make will influence how things look, how things are edited, if there’s music,etc.
The camera is the tool that you’re going to use to make the film. Any camera (even your iPhone) will do on some level, but ultimately you want something that’s going to be able to replicate what you already have in your head for #2 on this list.
They say the magic happens in the editing room, and that’s probably true. Your editing system will help you tell the story in the WAY that you want it told, and help you to focus and direct the audience.
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Happy friggin’ New Year!
If you’re like most people, you may have made a list of goals or resolutions to help get you through 2019 with a bit more focus than the past few years.
And again, if you’re like most people, 80% of the things written on that list will be forgotten about by the end of the month…maybe even before the end of the week!
That’s why I don’t make these lists any more. I find it’s better to have just ONE goal, and to focus on that.
It makes my days simple–if whatever I’m doing isn’t driving me towards that one goal, I know I should cut it out because it’s a waste of my time.
This may seem a bit of a ruthless perspective to some, but I guarantee that if you decide to set just ONE goal for the year, and do a little bit every single day to move you towards that goal, by the time these 365 days are over you’re going to see some MASSIVE changes in your life.
And I even have a pretty good idea of what your goal should be. Ready?
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