Question 1: Part 3, What Happened The Moment Before?
It’s really important to have a strong moment before, for 2 reasons. For one, as an actor it’s going to help jump start and get you into the scene. And two, it helps get the audience involved really quickly because they see the story already happening and they just have to follow along and get in there.
So how do you create a moment before? Or where does the moment before come from? You have to start by looking at the script. Sometimes it’s on the page and sometimes it’s not. I have 2 scripts from under 5 cold reads we have done in class. In the first script, it says: ‘Susie tears through a rack of clothes. A saleslady carefully approaches. “Miss, what’s happening?”‘. Let’s assume you are the saleslady. Your moment before is you see Susie tearing through a rack of clothes and then you carefully approach before you say “Miss, what’s happening?” So as an actor, you’ve got to create the moment. You’ve got to see that. You’ve got to see this lead actress tearing through all this stuff and it’s all becoming disarray. And then you might be careful as you walk over to her because she looks kind of important. You have to create all of the story before you say your first line.
In the other script, it says Hotel Guest Start. And then the hotel guest says their first line which is “Have we met?”. That’s it. There is no description of what happens the moment before. There is nothing to introduce the hotel guest. The hotel guest just says their first line. In this case, as an actor, you have to create that moment before for you. But make sure you create it based on information in the script. In this script, it later says that ‘such and such is suing you.’ The hotel guest is serving papers. So what’s important is that you know this is a hotel guest but it’s kind of a trick. You’re tricking them by asking if you’ve met and then you’re serving them papers. So what is the moment before? Even though the hotel guest has to look like it’s really casual when they say “Have we met?”, they are looking for this other character, specifically, so they can serve the papers. So as an actor, you have to create that space. You’re in a hotel lobby, and you’re looking around to see if the other character is there, and then you see them and say “Have we met?”.
You might not get a lot of time to create that moment before in the audition room, but what you can do, is start to create it before they even say action. Instead of waiting for them to say action, thinking of your first line, thinking is the camera ready, thinking should I start, you can be creating that moment before. If you’re thinking about all those other things, that is what will come through on the camera. Instead, you can immediately see yourself in the hotel lobby and you will be ready for when they call action. When you’ve already created the experience and the moment, that shines through and they can see that in the camera and in your audition.
So when you get your next audition, I want you to look at “What is the moment before?” Make a strong choice. Look at the script, see if it’s there. If it’s not on the script, then create it based on the story in the script. Don’t go make up something that isn’t there.