I am going to tell you a secret about callbacks that most actors don't know. In fact, I hear a lot of professionals say the complete opposite when talking to actors about callbacks. What I am about to tell you is probably going to fly in the face of a lot of what you have heard before. This little known fact will surprise you. Best of all, it is rooted in science!
First, you have to understand a concept called THE PRIMACY EFFECT. It is a phenomenon that says that the human brain remembers the first of things and tends to have a cognitive bias towards those things. For example, you remember your first love, your first dance, your first car, etc. Your brain remembers these things because the information was new and unique to the brain, which formed an impression when imprinting in memory.
The same is true for you when you audition. Your first impression on the director can not be recaptured and the impact it has on the director can not be repeated because it will no longer be new. When the director sees you perform again at a callback, your impression on the director is no longer new and novel. It will therefore NOT impact their brain in the same way it did.
When someone gives you the advice, "just do what you did in the first audition because you already know they liked that" it is actually destructive advice. Let me explain why...
At the first audition, you had the PRIMACY advantage, but now, due to the mere passage of time, you are no longer new and you no longer have that advantage. Therefore, what worked in the first encounter, won't work as well now at the callback.
Think of it in terms of dating and relationships. On the first date, you go out of your way to make a good first impression. You dress up, you mind your manners, you put the best version of yourself forward. Going on a first date, isn't a commitment and anyone can be nice for a short period of time, but we all know that to stand the test of time, we need to get to know the person on a deeper level. Eventually, given enough time, we get to know the good with the bad and from there we can make a decision about the long term compatibility of a potential partner.
The same is true with you when you audition. The director is going to want to get to know you at a deeper level. It is important for you to take a moment to think about the mindset of the director. In the first audition, the director is in the mindset of wanting to pick you because the director needs to pick actors to call back. This changes at a callback because now the mindset of the director is to find a reason to eliminate you so that they can pick the actor they are going to cast. For this reason, the director is going to want to get to know you at a deeper level.
Many of the things you did in the first audition, just are not going to be enough now. You are going to have to do more if you want to be remembered at the callback audition. Being remembered in the callback is essential because of the shift to THE RECENCY EFFECT. The recency effect is a phenomenon that says that people mostly remember what has happened most recently. In other words, you probably remember your first kiss and you can probably remember that you kissed your loved one this morning before work, but the rest in between is a little blurry, right?
After the director has auditioned all of the actors at callbacks, the director isn't as likely to remember the best of the first auditions as much as the director will remember the best of the callback auditions. Doing the same dog and pony show at the callback as you did in your first audition is actually more likely to work against you. Of course, you don't want to go rogue and change up everything and do your audition in an entirely different way, that would be disastrous. Instead you want to dial down to the details. I always say, "the devil is in the details" because what gets you cast and what doesn't get you cast often comes down to a tiny detail that sets you apart from the others. Your job as an actor is to dig deeper and mine out and SHOW US the detail and the complexity that brings the character and the scene to life. That is what will stick in the director's mind and that is what is going to make it possible for you to nail the callback audition.
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