Monday, 25 April 2016

Auditions. Whatever happened to class?

Auditions are a funny old thing aren't they? They can last just minutes, but sometimes they can determine the path that your life is going to take from that moment. At The MTA my graduating year group have just survived their hardcore round of private auditions. 15 auditions over the course of 6 days, spread out over 2 weeks. I was in awe of their resilience walking back into the room, exuding confidence, when in reality they were slowly getting acquainted to our old friend rejection.  Of course, they weren't actually getting rejected, they just didn't fit into the books of the agents that we'd invited at this stage.  Of course it doesn't feel like that at the time, when all of your friends' mobiles are pinging because yet another agent has invited them in for a meeting.  The other day we were talking in class about validating yourself, because if you wait for the industry to do it, you'll probably give up your dream really early, whilst acknowledging that it is again easier to do so if you have had a pinging phone for a week!

The MTA has an amazing record of getting 100% of our graduates representation prior to graduating, but that in itself puts a huge pressure on the students.  Who's going to be the poor sod that's the first one not to get signed from the college? We are forever talking to them about being proactive and going after their own work, and indeed a few of the late 'signers' have always found their first contract prior to leaving college by simply getting themselves out there on the circuit.  Of course it's easier with an agent...2 people working for you not just one (aka you)..but it's certainly not impossible. I fail to see how we can keep up this record, and myself and the team are always under the tightrope ready to catch the person or indeed people that feel like they've already been thrown off, before they've even began.

Then there's the tortuous set of auditions that performers have to take, in order to get into a college like ours in the first place.  Now I've written about this before: 2 whole years ago in fact.  How desperately annoying then that the problems that I wrote about then are still so prevalent today.

Just the other week 6 people did a no show? I mean, what the hell is that really about?  So at The MTA, we send people an initial letter and get them to confirm their attendance.  Even in that letter I write a whole thing about 'if you've changed your mind, just let us know, so that we can offer your place to someone else'.  I even helpfully add in the link to the above blog, so that people get a sense of how annoying it is.  A week before the audition I write to them again, just confirming everything from our point of view, and again checking that they can attend.  So this would be the perfect time to write back and say thanks but no thanks, meaning that we can offer someone that place with a full week's notice. Simple yes? However nothing could be further from the truth.  We audition on a Friday this year - late on Wednesday one person contacted me to say that they'd opted for a different college (along with an apology for the late notice).  Now I know that they had secured their place a few weeks why not have told us then? Next up Thursday evening...the night before audition day, when nerves would be at their peak.  Cue my phone pinging drop out at 10.30pm, one drop out at 11.30pm. Obviously I contemplate the possibility of calling someone up and offering them the slot - after all they would have had 9.5 hrs notice to prepare?!?! The audition day arrives...and a further 3 just don't show up...they don't phone, they don't email...nothing.  Seemingly it's OK nowadays to just not bother, I mean who knew? Did I miss the memo that everyone else seemed to have, which states that you no longer have to be courteous when you get an email? Maybe it was sent to our old address?

A few days later I hear from a casting director that they too have had the same problem, with professionals just not turning up, or dropping out at the last minute. Yet people are regularly moaning about not being seen for jobs? How does this work?

So when did this spate of not giving a damn kick in?  When did it become OK to just not bother and not say anything?  At the end of every MTA audition day we send out written feedback to every applicant. You know the sort of written feedback that everybody says that they so desperately crave? I also make a point of asking them to acknowledge receipt of the feedback, even if the over all result of the day isn't as they would have wanted.  On average only 50% of applicants will acknowledge receipt of that email?

We will continue to acknowledge receipt of every serious email that gets sent to the college, as I believe it to be courteous.  We will also continue to preach to our lot that they not only must do the same, but also, if they are lucky enough to get an audition, they should bloody well attend it, and try to get a job.  In other words, in spite of the increasing rudeness that we're seeing, we will continue to be respectful to other people. Isn't it a shame that we all don't think the same? Does our disposable culture now automatically mean that people have some sort of 'filter' in place which means that they only 'switch on' when it's something that they really want, or indeed need to hear/read about?

To all those people, starting out and indeed established professionals that continue to put themselves relentlessly through the audition circuit, you have my admiration. To all those people that don't turn up, don't communicate...try learning some professional etiquette. It's a small industry with long memories. Opportunities aren't just created in an audition room - they're created by the way in which you treat others.

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