Okay, so you’re studying hard and becoming a pretty good actor and now you’re hungry for work. But how do you show everyone just how good you really are if you don’t have the skills to successfully audition for the part?
You only get one chance with the casting directors: and if you blow it, they are reluctant to see you again any time soon!
So what can you expect at a casting session? What are the do’s and don’t do’s?
Most inexperienced actors are fearful of the casting process. They walk into the room as though they were entering the dentists for root canal work. But in reality, there is nothing to fear at a casting or screen test but fear itself.
Your name hasn’t been drawn randomly from a barrel, nor are you there just to add extra numbers to the casting. You are there because the casting agent wants you there; because he or she likes your look and thinks you may be suitable for the role. That fact alone should give your confidence a boost. And auditioning is all about preparation and a confident approach.
Audtion Do’s and Don’ts
1. You should be confident, but not cocky, when you walk into the room: happy to be there and to have the opportunity to strut your stuff. The casting director wants you to do well. They’re on your side, not against you.
2. Let’s pick it up from the moment you enter the casting space… When you enter, smile and shake hands. A nice friendly handshake with medium pressure: no one likes their hand to be squeezed in a vice and they don’t much appreciate the limp fish handshake either.
3. Give your head shot and resume to the casting agent. Make sure your resume is industry standard layout and that all contact numbers and email address are current.
4. Also make sure your date of birth and physical details are correct. It doesn’t matter whether your height and measurements are in inches or centimetres, as long as they are accurate.
5. Be friendly, but not overfriendly and ingratiating.
6. Don’t complain about the traffic or what a bad day you are having. No one cares. You are there to audition, not to complain about your lot in life.
7. When asked questions, answer them simply and with detail. Don’t answer in monosyllables: Yes or No – elaborate a little, but don’t waffle on.
8. Be prepared: understand the material and the role you are trying out for. If it is for a small role in an ongoing television drama, say, then watch the show for a couple of weeks and get a feel for the pace and style of the program.
9. When you first step up to face the camera stay on your mark and don’t move around unless they tell you to. Ask where they would like you to direct your eye line (left or right of camera or straight down the barrel.) If you can play it straight to the camera lens then do so, as you will then be making direct eye contact with who ever views the tape, and this will help to give you more impact on screen.
10. For the first run through the casting director will want to see what you’ve got. They will then give you some direction and ask you to play it again. Don’t panic. They simply want to shade your performance and see whether you can take direction. There is nothing more annoying than giving an actor some precise direction and then they turn around and play the scene exactly as they did before. You must be open to direction!
Once you’ve been over the scene or television commercial scenario a few times then they will thank you and that will be it. You can then go home and pray for a call back or confirmation of the role. If you don’t get the part then you won’t hear anything.
11. Keep polishing your technique as the audition is a strange beast, the complete opposite to performing on-set with other actors. You are on your own, just you and the camera with someone reading the other characters’ lines.
12. Practice makes perfect, so practice at home using your camcorder. If you don’t have a camera, then play it directly to a mirror. This will allow you to identify and overcome bad body language and repetitive mannerisms. It will also teach you how to maintain precise eye-lines.
The biggest problem most actors encounter is when the casting agent asks them to say something about themselves on-camera before they commence the audition. This spiel is as important as the audition itself. You must be able to speak about yourself without appearing self conscious or nervous.
13. Don’t tell them you are nervous, everyone in the room knows you are nervous and they naturally take this into account. Work on your intro spiel for camera and practice it until you have it down pat. It will pay dividends, as this is the one area where actors consistently fail.
14. Attend an audition master class: knowledge is power and you will learn quickly what mistakes you are making and where you have to lift your game.
The Screen Actors Workshop run an Audition Process master class with casting director Sascha Huckstepp, director of Sascha Huckstepp Casting Consultants. Some of the students who have attended this course have won significant screen roles within weeks of completing the workshop. They learned from their mistakes and practised at home until they had it down.
15. Remember, it doesn’t matter how good you can act, you have to be able to audition successfully if you hope to get anywhere in this industry. After all, a casting session is nothing more than a glorified job interview and you want to make sure that it is you who gets the job.
Get the acting job by enrolling in the Audition Process master class.