The Importance Of Objective In A Scene by Benson Simmonds
Hello fellow actors!
Thanks for the great feedback from my last column about using the law of attraction to feel confident at your auditions. I’d like to begin a series of columns explaining how to break down audition scripts and utilize objectives, obstacles, substitutions inner objects and actions on every line to nail your auditions and book the part.
But first I’d like to introduce you to a book called The Healing Code which I’ve recently discovered. Authored by Alex Loyd and Dr. Ben Johnson (featured in the Secret video), The Healing Code offers a 6 minute series of body positions that offer deep relaxation and help you eliminate wrong or limiting beliefs systems at the same time. A friend of mine who is a successful acupuncturist and healer suggested that I read the book and use it before auditions and in general. I found the 6 minute system to be incredible. It takes you to a deep place of relaxation within a very a short time. I used it before an audition last week and experienced a sense of peace, strength and presence that was very powerful. I believe it’s only available on Amazon. Don’t think, just buy it (and no, I’m not getting a commission, I just really believe in this system because it’s working!!!)
So let’s get back to the basics of breaking down an audition script. What’s the most important thing to figure out in each of your audition scenes?
Objective is key because all of your work as an actor will revolve around your character’s objective. By objective of course we mean, “what does your character need from the other person in the scene?” An objective needs to be stated very simply as it specifically relates to the other person in your scene. Never state your objective in general terms like “I want love”, but rather be specific. “I need you to love me”. You determine your character’s objective by asking, “if I were this character, what would I want from the other person?”
Here are some examples of clearly stated and playable objectives:
I need you to fall in love with me.
I need you to love and support me.
I need you to validate me.
I need you to give me a job.
I need you to seduce me/have sex with me.
I need you to admit that you’re wrong
I need you to be my friend and like me.
I need you to give me my power back.
Why is objective so important? Because the second the camera is rolling even without words, you need to be going after your objective. Some actors just stand there and wait for their lines to start “acting”. But the actors who we love to watch and who get hired are going after their objective the second the camera starts rolling. For example if you’re playing a “power scene” (which we’ll discuss in more detail in an upcoming column), then the way you stand at the beginning of the scene will be to show the other actor that you are strong and that you can’t be messed with. If you’re trying to get someone to fall in love with you, the second the camera’s rolling you need to try to win your objective but you’ll use a completely different approach. You might be standing in a way that shows off your physique or your figure so that the other character is attracted to you, i.e. you may be flirting even before you open your mouth for your first line.
In every scene you will always only have one objective. Your objective will never change during the scene, If you think it does change during the scene then you haven’t figured out the best objective for the scene. I’ll often hear my students say something like “my objective is ” I want to leave the room” or “I want them to leave me alone”. Here’s a tip, your objective will never be to leave the scene or get the other person to leave the scene.. If that’s what your character really wanted then you’d simply get up and leave the room. Rest assured that if your character stays in the room with another character it is because they want and need something from the other person or persons in the scene.
For example, we’ve all acted in scenes where your character keeps telling the other person to “get out”, “leave”. Do you really think that you want the other character to leave?
Usually we’ll challenge someone to get out and leave in order to get the exact opposite response! When my character says “get out”, what I’m really trying to do is get the other character to prove that they love me enough to stay! This is exactly the opposite of what the text as written says. (Sometimes the objective is “I need you to prove that you love me”).
But as actors we need to understand that most of the time people are not consciously aware of their objectives. But we as actors have to use script analysis to figure out what the character’s objective is so we can play the scene to win the objective.
I know we’re just beginning to scratch the surface but objective is the most important aspect of breaking down your audition script because everything will revolve around your objective - that includes everything you say and everything you do “between the lines”, your behavior.
If you want more clarification feel free to watch the first of my 3 mini lectures on acting – click here
To practice getting good at figuring out objectives, when you’re watching or renting your next movie, try to figure out the characters objectives during their scenes.
Here’s a fun challenge. Watch my award-winning short film applaud or die (click here)
and try to figure out what both characters objectives are. Once you’ve figured them out, feel free to forward them to me as well as other comments/questions to email@example.com.
Till next column, go forth with confidence and passion…and have fun!
Benson Simmonds is an award-winning actor, acting teacher, coach and short filmmaker. His YouTube mini lectures series on acting continues to receive thousands of hits and inspires actors all over the world. Benson is currently working as an actor in LA and also teaches acting classes and coaches one on one.