Jolting Docudrama Audition Experience
Last September I got an audition for an episode lead role in a 1-hour docudrama TV-Series “Fear Thy Neighbor”. The character, Richard Uffelman suffered from severe paranoid delusions that got so extreme he murdered his neighbors. My agent sent only a character description and a bit of backstory about the episode. No script and no dialogue to create from. There’s nothing like having the script for research prior to the audition, but it’s common in docudrama’s to receive only a description and maybe a scene scenario. I’d like to share a bit about my preparation for the audition and the experience in the room.
THE PREP – I stuck to the basics and used the PERGE technique which helps me create a detailed backstory. I broke it all down and if the character, episode, or real life description of the guy himself wasn’t enough I created my own. And answered the important questions: What’s the story? How does he feel? Who’s in it with him? What does he do, what does he want and what is in his way? What are his environments and what is his relationship to them? Having these answers made it easier for me to maneuver in the role and be able to go deep in character without much effort.
Once the backstory (PERGE) was in place I fused it with foundation exercises: breathing, energy, voice, movement, storytelling, behavior and ritual. The prep allowed me to dimensionally improvise in character. I made myself him so that no matter what I was asked by the director in the audition room and potentially on set, I could deliver. Preparation is what helped me hike through this characters very dark psyche.
THE AUDITION – Upon arrival I picked up the scene scenario from the casting director and instantly realized how important it was that I did all the prep work. It was exactly what I needed for maximizing my interpretation of the scenario they gave us all at the audition.
In the audition room Brian Rice the gifted writer/director of the episode lead me through what essentially matched the character description and specific phases of his journey. Because I’d built the role based on that specific information, following his direction was relatively effortless and fun even though my emotional states were very deep. For a moment at the end I was asked to be on the brink of a psychotic break, the final phase in character arc (as described in the breakdown). Brian asked me to visualize some very gruesome things, I went with it and frankly freaked out a bit in the process. I was standing there trembling in the internal fear I had created. Awesome!
THE WORK – I got the part and was tasked with playing a troubled bear of a man. I had my work cut out for me creating this often paranoid and awkwardly delusional guy that literally flipped a switch one day (played out in an onscreen moment) and became a monster. It was an amazing journey into character during the full week of shooting. I’ve included two trailers from the episode below.
My takeaway from this career moment: you can never be too prepared and always always be humble, respectful and appreciative.
If you get a chance to watch the first airings of Red Picket Fences this week it’d be great to get your feedback. Please post comments below. Thanks for sharing your valuable time and best wishes! Brad Milne.
Cream Productions was amazing to work for, an inspiring experience all around. Fear Thy Neighbor “Red Picket Fences” Premiered Monday, April 21st 10PM ET / 9PM CT. Airs again Tuesday April 22 at 1AM ET / 12PM CT and Sunday April 27 at 5PM ET / 4PM CT. Complete Schedule @ InvestigationDiscovery.com