And thanks for reading! Since I’ve been doing this work, I’ve developed several “Pet Peeves”, so this week I thought I’d share them with you. Do any of these resonate with you? If you have some others, I’d love to hear them!
Look! It’s BACK! Just a reminder here that when I use the term “actor” I mean it to encompass all forms of acting including voice, stage, and screen. Yeah, I know I say this every week, but it falls under the heading of “The things that go without saying are the things that most need to be said”. What follows applies relatively equally to all of these forms of acting.
We all have them, even if we won’t admit it. In case you don’t know, a pet peeve is something that you find particularly annoying. Typically, they are things that happen frequently and serve to get under your skin very quickly. I have a BUNCH of them like not signaling before changing lanes (which I am also guilty of sometimes) and weaving in and out of traffic…but I will confine myself below only to those things related to acting or VO. So, without further ado – my list of acting pet peeves!
I’ll include this one first, because it is probably my BIGGEST pet peeve of all. It drives me bonkers when people have only a passing acquaintance with being on time. I spent 20 years in the Navy and our motto was 15 minutes early is on time and on time is late. In my mind, people who are late are disrespectful of other people’s time and as we all know: time is money. I get it, sometimes doo-doo occurs, and you wind up late. It happens. It’s when people are routinely late and there is no apparent reason for it and/or they are not contrite about it.
Not memorizing lines
Obviously, this one does not really apply to VO since you typically have your copy in front of you when you record. I’ve worked with several actors who wait till they show up on set to begin memorizing their lines. This one is nearly as bad as being late all the time because it fails to consider the time of the other people involved. Needless to say, if an actor does not have his lines committed to memory the shoot day is going to be a LOOOOOOONG one (and they are almost always long anyway).
OK, so it may seem a little hypocritical to call out complainers in a blog post that is almost entirely complaining about things…I get it. Still, I am talking about people who complain incessantly. We’ve all met these people. Nothing is ever right for them. Even when they get exactly what they asked for there will be something not quite to their liking. Their wardrobe doesn’t fit just right, it’s too hot/cold, lunch is late, there are too many takes (maybe if they memorized their lines?). It just makes me crazy when someone spends all day complaining.
People who expect you to work for nothing.
Or even next to nothing. The worst offenders are the people who post a role without stating what the rate is for the role. While I stay away from these, it is still annoying particularly when the role looks interesting. There seems to be no understanding of what it takes to prepare for a role, or even an audition. HINT: It takes a good bit of time. I fully understand low/no budget indie projects and am even willing to work for free sometimes. But let me decide BEFORE taking the time to audition.
Failure to provide a reel.
This is particularly egregious when you DO agree to work for no pay. If you have an actor who is willing to put time and effort into a character for your project for no pay, the least you can do is provide a reel of the scenes for that actor. Or send the whole thing and let them cut their scenes out. If you are not going to pay the talent, don’t make them chase you down and hound you for their scenes. They are working to gain experience and clips for their reel…THAT is the pay.
Un-proofed audition scripts.
I actually see this a lot more often in VO auditions than on-screen auditions although it happens in both. There is nothing more aggravating then having to try and decipher horrible spelling and grammar before you can even start to prepare to read for an audition. I am an actor, not an editor. If you can’t afford to hire a real editor, at least ask someone to proofread the script for you. The BIGGEST offenders of this one are independent/self-published authors trying to get their book into audio form. Which leads to –
The length of some audiobook audition scripts
It’s hard to believe that I have actually received entire manuscripts of a book and told to “pick a section” to read for the audition. While that’s rare, there are plenty of audition scripts that represent 20-30 minutes of audio. You simply do not need that much of an audition since it is likely you are going to decide whether you like or dislike the narrator in less than 3 minutes. A 3-to-5-minute script length is optimal.
Actors who give you “notes”.
We all have our way of reading a script, and we each interpret characters differently. I’ve heard it time and time again: There is no “right” or “wrong” way to portray a character. Just because you saw this character as someone else when you auditioned doesn’t mean I saw them the same way. If I booked the role the director liked my take and me being someone you didn’t expect should actually HELP you react to that character more realistically. I take my notes from the director, not the scene partner, thank you. And that leads to –
Actors who argue with the director about notes.
Look, I get it. You spent a lot of time figuring out who your character is, and you have a whole backstory developed for why they behave the way they do. That’s awesome and just how it is supposed to be. Unfortunately, the director is the one who ultimately decides how a character should behave in any scene. If the director’s vision does not match yours, guess what? His vision wins. Sure, explain your choice if need be, but then do what the director wants without arguing.
Ultra-fast turnaround times
It’s been said that in business (and this IS a business, don’t forget) you have three choices: Good, Fast and Cheap. But you can only ever have two at the same time. Of course, an audition is always cheap (they’re free to production after all) so you either get Good or Fast…never both. In preparing for an audition, you need to do a truncated version of the same prep you do for a booked role. If you only give the talent an hour or two to respond, they do not have time to do the prep they need, and their audition is not going to be as good. This makes them less competitive. Give actors a couple days to submit their auditions!
I get it, casting has a particular body type in mind, and they want to see if you fit it. But sometimes it is SO DARN DIFFICULT to get a full body shot without turning the camera to vertical. Even worse is a full body pan, when for self-tapes we are so often working alone. How do you get the camera to pan when you are supposed to be in front of it? I understand the need, but how about a normal slate and audition and include a fully body snapshot along with it instead?
Lastly, what is up with those super-fast disclaimers at the end of some of these auditions? You have to fit 90 seconds of audio into a 15 second disclaimer. Who speaks that fast without tripping over their words? And compressing the time in the audio file only goes so far before the audio is completely perturbed. I understand them and I hate them at the same time!
And there you have it
These are just some of my biggest pet peeves. Hopefully some of these resonated with you. If you have some of your own I’d love to hear about them. Just pop them into the comment box below!