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“Make a plan. Follow the plan.”

That’s advice about setting and reaching goals that came from a motivational speaker five years ago. As I sat in his workshop in north Texas, I realized I had spent little time doing either step. Things are different now. I like making plans and following plans, especially when it comes to auditions, but I also get reminded frequently about how important it is to not be married to my plans. Let me give you an example.

On a Friday, I got invited to audition for a crime drama shooting in LA. I won’t mention the series but it’s an established one now in its fourth season. The role is a co-star in this episode and the sides consisted of four lines, three of them spoken by other characters and one spoken by me. Looking at the weekend ahead of me, I decided to tape the audition on Monday, hours before it was due at 12 pm.

Over the weekend, I arranged to have an actress friend come over and read with me. She’s got an assertive sound naturally and seemed perfect for the off camera role of a police officer. She agreed to come at 9 am on Monday. I figured we would have it taped by 10 am.

On Sunday night, the plans changed abruptly. My actress friend texted me to say she had been in a car accident. She’s okay but mentioned her car “took a beating.” That meant she wouldn’t be able to drive to my place on Monday. No worries. I could make a new plan.

I knew my roommate would be home Monday morning and we could tape my audition with her iPad. I texted her on Monday morning to ask if the iPad was available, she said her son needed it for camp. Again, the plan gets adjusted.

My roommate offered to use her iPhone 5S to tape my audition. Since the video quality looks better on her phone than on my Samsung Galaxy S4, I quickly agreed.

We proceeded with Plan C, rehearsed the scene, then taped it twice. The second take was much stronger and that’s the one I submitted.

To summarize, throughout the process of planning, the reader changed and the recording device changed. The only constant was the studio space we used. Being flexible became a critical element.

As a final element to this post, let’s look at some other ways the audition could have “gone wrong” before taping began.

  • Studio loses power
  • Yard crew starts mowing
  • Reader doesn’t show up
  • Internet connection fails
  • Recording device didn’t get charged

The list can go on and on, of course, but the idea is that a wide variety of challenges can present themselves between the time you get the sides and the time you selected to record them. Make it a habit to create a Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, etc in case a worst case scenario occurs. Odds are, if you’re like me, you will rarely see your Plan A come together perfectly intact. Remain flexible and remember real-life challenges can lead to some of your best work on camera.