How do actors audition for film, television, theatre, commercials or the internet? When it comes to your acting career, auditioning is a mandatory process.
It is understandable that you may feel there is an unnaturalness to meeting a stranger and baring your soul but it does not have to be looked upon in such a way.
Having a solid mind set is a fundamental key to preparing yourself for a successful audition. It’s a good rule of thumb to approach an audition as if it is a performance.
Viewing an audition as a performance automatically takes you out of the ‘pleasing’ sector and instead places you in the ‘performance’ sector, which is what casting directors wish to see.
Believe me, there is nothing casting directors want more then for you to do a good work. Putting your attention on your work and delivering on your potential is what matters most for all parties involved.
How To Audition: The Actor’s Guide for Entering The Audition Room
We all look different. As human beings we come in all shapes and sizes. There are specific looks that a casting director may be considering based on their notes with a director/producer as well as their own vision of the character when casting a role.
You have no control over what is in the mind of who you are auditioning in front of. What you do have control over is being presentable and providing a bit of what you see for the character you are auditioning for.
Most of the time, you will have limited access to the script or limited time to bring about a full character in the room. That’s okay. No one expects you to be perfect. Can you be truthful and connect with your work? That’s what counts most.
Step 1: Finding Audition Notices
There are quite a few casting sites online and it’s always good to proceed with caution. Always be sure to find reviews of a site first in order to make sure of its legitimacy, especially when asked for money to access casting breakdowns.
There is always an abundance of scams in all industries and in the world of casting, there is no exception.
Be skeptical of any casting notice that encourages nudity/partial nudity and never reveal yourself in the nude for any reason if asked in an audition room.
Where do you find auditions?
Not every casting site can check every single casting notice uploaded to their database due to the overwhelming updates. Although, good casting sites exercise a ‘weeding out’ process to protect actors, it must be your full responsibility to make sure that you do your casting homework for a particular gig for your own well being.
Submit yourself out to all roles that you feel you are right for. Take into account your ‘type’. You don’t want to submit yourself out for a role as a 65 year old Grandmother if you are a twenty-one year old female. That sounds obvious but you’d be surprised!
Use your best judgment and be realistic about what sort of parts you can get cast in.
If you aren’t exactly sure about what sort of type you are have a look at how actors should be their own brand advocate to give you ideas on examining your own appearance, type and even style.
A casting representative (casting director/producer/filmmaker) has reached back to you after you have submitted your headshot/resume.
You’ve booked your audition slot (time/date/place), what do you do next? The next step for you is to research who you will be auditioning for. Is it a well established casting director who has cast big budgeted Hollywood film projects? Is it an up and coming casting agent who specializes in indie cinema? Will you be reading for a writer/director who is casting his/her own film?
Always learn about who/what/where you will be auditioning. Make sure it’s an actual company in a work safe environment. Even if it’s not a company you are familiar with (production company/casting agency/audition studio), do what you can to make sure it’s for real. This also helps you from wasting your precious time.
Know who you are reading for because it helps to place your audition in context. This is your industry and it’s important to know who you will be meeting because it may not be the only time you meet that person, especially if you book the job.
Even if you don’t book the job, you could very well meet a casting director (which often is the case) multiple times before landing work. Building a rapport with someone who can actually cast you is essential when carried out in good taste.
Knowing more about that particular casting director/filmmaker/producer and the work they have done will only show them (even in small conversation) that you have a good head on your shoulders.
This may sound obvious but right off the bat you need to examine and understand
what exactly you are going to be auditioning for. Is is a dramatic play, a musical comedy, web series, silent short film, music video, TV show, feature film, experimental video concept…the list can go on.
Once you know what your auditioning for, the next step is knowing what you will be auditioning with.
- Are sides going to be provided? Sides are a 1-3 page portion of the total script material that you may or may not actually be working with if you book the role.
There are times when the side material you are given is not the actual script but something similar. This may be because the actual script is being rewritten or perhaps the production team is not willing to share real script information for fear of story plot leaks.
There are many writers who don’t want their full screenplay out in the public until their movie has been officially released. This is for good reasons, especially if the script is from seasoned creators.
All you should be concerned about at this point is the material you’ve been given to work from.
Sometimes you will be given sides two days before, the day before or in some cases the morning of. You have to take the immediacy in stride as this is the nature of the industry and you need to be ready for such a process when auditioning.
In some instances, you will also be given the opportunity to audition with a monologue. This is great because you would have already spent time having a good piece prepared and waiting in the wings to go on. Right? …Maybe.
Even if you feel your monologue is a bit stale because you haven’t worked it in awhile, a good dusting will get you in tip top shape in a reasonable amount of time.
A monologue is where you can bring a deeper sense of your craft because you have something that has been worked on and given proper time to perform.
This is not to say that you won’t be capable of entering an audition room with sides on the same day and crush it. There are times when you are given a one page script and immediately connect with the material in a way that it feels you wrote it yourself.
There are many variables to auditioning and one is not necessarily better than the other. The main thing is to be prepared for as many facets of the auditioning process as possible so you don’t get caught off guard.
As an actor you need to be ready for anything in the audition room.
Step 2: Being Prepared
Film auditions will usually consist of either a casting director, casting assistant, producer or director. There are times when there are ‘lights, camera and action’ set up. Don’t be alarmed if you feel like you are walking on a movie set. This is something you need to grow accustomed to regardless so you might as well get accustomed to it while auditioning. It makes for excellent practice.
If you do happen to walk on a stage type set as if a move set, be mentally ready to go and work.
Knowing where the camera is and where you are in relation to the camera is crucial. If you are not sure about things technically, ask the director. Don’t shy away from asking questions that will give you a strong audition. The last thing you want is to be up there auditioning all the while be unsure about whether or not you can walk, sit or remain still.
Similar to film auditions. You may be invited to the studio for a screen test. This oftentimes happens when you are further along the audition phase but could still very well happen on your first go.
You may even work with the actors from the TV series depending on the size of the part you are auditioning for.
In such instances be prepared for more than one camera (for film auditions as well), perhaps even three (camera A, B, C) if on a sound stage. (especially a soap opera)
Expect to audition at a rehearsal space or theatre space where the play will actually run. You may even audition in the director/producer/writer’s home. It does happen.
The key when auditioning is to expected the unexpected so nothing takes you by surprise and you remain focused on your task as hand…you work.
Be sure to have good voice training for theatre so you can reach that back row and in an audition that takes place inside a theatre this is ever more important. The theatre will usually be empty with only a few casting people inside without an audience to fill up the room. You really need to project the strength of your voice as naturally as possible without straining and without coming off cold.
Having good vocal training is necessary for the theatre and not something you should ever take for granted, especially when auditioning.
Energy is crucial when it comes to commercial auditions. Target energy is even better. Energy for energy sake gets wasted but when you are able to harness the aim and direction of your energy for a commercial audition, it works wonders.
Practice with upbeat tempo-rhythms if you are going in for a comedic audition.
Energy is also essential for more serious type commercials. Just because a commercial’s content may be something more serious, energy will always play a part in your delivery.
Online auditions have grown in popularity over the years. It makes economical sense for some projects and does save time for both sides of the casting table.
You will sometimes be asked to send in a video clip of yourself reading the script, performing a monologue or even doing an improvisation based on guidelines given to you by a casting professional.
By today’s standards, creating a video audition has gotten easier. Equipment is more affordable and quality has greatly improved.
If you are asked to send in a video audition, be sure you have access to good equipment.
You will need a camera, editing software and computer.
The quality of smart phones does make video audition recording better but always check with your casting director to make sure the quality will be considered sufficient based on the smart phone you wish to use.
Audition notices for internet video castings usually come with an assortment of guidelines that will give you all the necessary information to create and send a solid ‘digital video tape’. Always double check and make sure you have everything right.
This includes labeling in the subject box when you send the file to casting, the actual naming of the video file (usually a .mov), and slating your name correctly when recording (sometimes you are asked to provide your weight, height, nationality – either beginning or end of video contents).
you may be asked to upload your video to a casting network for casting directors to review or may even be asked to upload to your own Youtube Channel or Vimeo account.
It’s smart to have all of this ahead of time going for you incase you do get asked to have your own video account available for video upload.
- Key Point: No one is expecting you to have film like quality for video auditions but do make your best effort to provide good quality. Shoot your video in an environment that is well lit with natural light if you don’t have access to decent lighting equipment. Natural light works wonders if you are on a budget.
Step 3: Managing The Mental Aftermath
After you leave your audition, it’s done. Here’s where self-analysis kicks in. It’s important not to overwhelm yourself with whether or not you ‘nailed’ it or did poorly. Take your work in that audition room in stride. Learn from it. Give it a mental scan. Move on.
The best way to move on from one audition is to get going on the next one. This will release any pressure you give yourself in terms of how good you did. you will be too busy focusing on getting prepared for your next audition performance.
Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
The more you practice this process of one audition to the next audition, you will begin to find yourself more loose, focused and may even have more fun.
Audition Questions That Need Answers
- What do I wear?
- What do I need at an audition?
- How to Cope with a Terrible Reader?
What do I wear?
It’s a good idea to put some thought into your character’s clothing. You do not need to go full monty and buy an 18th century dress if you are playing a character from that time period. =) But certainly take the time to consider what you can do wardrobe wise to help create the impression visually of your potential to play the role in the eyes of casting.
What do I need at an audition?
Headshot – a good headshot is your business calling card and worth its weight in gold. it is what gets you in the door in many cases and you should always provide the casting director with one in person, even if they already have one…just in case.
Resume – a good resume that is properly structured speaks volumes and showcases you as a professional. Do not take a resume for granted because it is what actually gets read by casting and nothing could be worse if it is done in poor taste and not according to industry standard.
How do I cope with a terrible reader?
You have to do what you have to do. No matter how bad a reader may or may not be, it is up to you to do what you need to do while performing in that audition room.
It is always a good idea to know the other character as well as you know your own. This will serve you well if you encounter a bad reader.
We hope you’ve found our Acting Audition Guide helpful and useful. Please share it if you do. Thanks.