This past week I had the privilege of teaching at a film workshop in Denver, CO, with my brother and sister, who are also heavily involved in the film industry. I spoke about what scheduling looks like, and explained a sample call sheet, but the bulk of what I shared had to do with acting: auditioning, character study, and what it's like on set.
One of the topics that came up was the "cold read." That's a casting term for when an actor is asked to audition with sides (scenes from the script) that they have not previously studied. You haven't had time to warm up for it, so it's called reading it "cold."
For acting, the first time I did a cold read was about a year and a half ago. I had studied on how one should approach it, but was still nervous about the actual execution (ominous word, I know, but it captures well the essence of the moment). I had five minutes with the script before I was "on," and the adrenaline from the focused energy made me feel like I'd been running after an active three-year-old for an hour with no breaks. No, it was not comfortable to do. Yes, I was apprehensive. But it was also surprisingly fun! (Especially when they called the next day to offer me the role)
As far as my life goes? "Cold read" situations pop up with disconcerting frequency. By God's grace, I have but to ask to receive inside tips and wisdom on how to handle them.
There are several keys to keep in mind when faced with a cold read. They are much the same as an ordinary audition. The main difference is being able to snap into a faster gear to prep. Here goes:
God has information about the situation (script) that you don't. He can give you wisdom about how to go about things that will make sense in the actual context—even without you knowing what that context is!
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10
Stress (dismay) isn't going to help anyway. When the thought comes: "I can't do this!", simply agree quickly. "Sure enough, 'I' can't do this. However, there's this other factor to take into account. God is going to help me. That means that not only can I survive this, but I can certainly 'take possession' on top!" Leave your worries with him and enjoy the experience.
The temptation is to dwell on what we don't have to go on. The if-only's can be exhausting! But what DO you have? Start there. God can show you how to use it in unexpected ways. (Go read the rest of the story to find out how the widow used her oil)
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
Indecision is a fearful stance toward something which you feel in the dark about. The key is to walk in obedience to the light you already have. Be courageous! We do not walk alone. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no. Don't waffle between them in the "maybes."
Even if you can't get it word for word, try to understand each point being made. Speak according to the need. Don't just put words out there that won't propel the situation in the right direction.
In regard to life's unexpected turns, don't spill out whatever comes to mind to say. Words are powerful! Have an arsenal of faith-building words at the ready in case you need to remind yourself that if God is for you, who can be against you? What you're facing might be new to you, but that is not a good reason for your trust in God to falter. His power and wisdom and love remain unfazed.
~ Psalm 32:8-9
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
~ Isaiah 30:21
Don't get stuck on a certain way to do things. If a yes-no option isn't clear at the outset, or you see a a roadblock ahead on the route you had chosen, feel free to mix it up. Let the Holy Spirit guide you on your way; keep your satellite reception strong for the Gospel Positioning System.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. ~ Psalm 103:12-14
What if the decisions you made weren't the right ones? What if you completely misread the script? What if you stumbled on your lines, or failed to reach that level of emotion you were going for? Let the Director give you his feedback. That's what counts, anyway.
Is God not bigger than our mistakes? Of course he is! Let him be your judge, your coach, and your teacher. He understands what we're going through.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands. ~ Psalm 138:8