Audition Tips For Actors AND FilmmakersMonday, May 13, 2019
Auditions are tough, no matter which side of the camera you're on! For actors, you're really putting yourself out there and exposing your inner self every time you take a chance on an audition.
Will they like me? Am I even right for this role?
For filmmakers, it's just as difficult--there's a lot of pressure to find the perfect person to fill each role. And for newer directors, it may be a challenge trying to deal with the many different personalities of sometimes stressed-out actors who are trying to impress you.
That's why we put together this collection of audition tips, broken down for both actors and for filmmakers. No matter which side of the camera you're on, the thing to remember is that auditions are a stressful process for EVERYONE involved, so the more you can do to make things easier and more chill for yourself and the other people in the audition room, the smoother the audition will be, and the greater your chances are that people will want to work with YOU on this and any other film projects.
Audition Tips For Actors
OK, this sounds pretty basic, but you'd be amazed how big of a problem this actually is during auditions. Actors get nervous, and then start to take shallow breaths. This is not good for your nerves, or for your breath support. Remember to take in some long, deep breaths--this will calm your nerves, and also ensure that you have proper breath support, so your voice doesn't come out sounding as shaky as you may be feeling on the inside.
2. Know where to focus
Do you look at the camera, or not? Many actors get tripped up by this, especially during auditions. Unless you're auditioning for a narrator/spokesperson role where you're speaking directly to the viewers (common during many TV commercials), you should NEVER look directly into the camera. Think of the camera as a fly on the wall, silently observing the scene that's taking place.
In general, you want to focus on whomever you're reading the scene with--and in a perfect world, that person is probably just off to the side of the camera. But if you're in an awkward audition setup where the reader is off to the side or not in your line of sight, you generally want to put your focus slightly off either side of the camera, as if the person with whom you're having a conversation with is standing right next to the camera.
Remember--a lot of acting happens in the eyes, and if we can't see yours, you'll have a hard time expressing emotion on camera.
3. Roll with the punches
Sometimes you may come in to an audition to find out the character is COMPLETELY different than how they were described in the casting notice. You may go in thinking the role should be portrayed one way, only to find out that the production team has something completely different in mind.
Get over it!
It is often the case that different characters and roles are very fluid and changing, especially if you're auditioning for episodic television. And casting directors are often flying by the seat of their pants trying to keep up with all of these changes. So just keep all of this in mind as you audition, and remember--nobody likes a diva!
Audition Tips For Filmmakers
1. Be organized
Having a chaotic cattle call casting process is a red flag that can give off the impression to auditioning actors that you don't know what you're doing. Take the time and effort to ensure the auditions run smoothly and in an organized manner.
This includes things like having a sign-in sheet at the audition, and someone to be the "monitor"--the person taking charge of the audition waiting area, making sure actors are getting signed in, and keeping everyone in the area outside of the audition room organized and calm. It also includes making sure that you have multiple copies of the audition scripts, or "sides", available inside the audition room as well as the audition waiting area.
Having this stuff done right will make you look organized and professional, even if you're running ragged on the inside.
2. Direct the actors
This may seem obvious to some, but to newer filmmakers this may come as a revelation--actors actually WANT you to direct them. They are craving some sort of feedback, good or bad, so you should give it to them in a very constructive way.
If an actor isn't giving you what you think the character needs during their audition, then it is incumbent upon you as the director to try to work with the actor to get the results that you need.
Plus, you want to make sure that you're working with actors that are versatile, and the only way to find that out is by having them make some changes in their interpretation and see how they handle that. If an actor is dead set on giving one particular interpretation of the character and it doesn't jive with what you had in mind, it's much better to find that out during the auditions than on set during production.
3. Be nicer than you think you need to be
We get it--you may typically need to see a whole lot of actors in a very short time span during an audition, and it's very easy to get through as many people as possible in an effort to keep things moving quickly and efficiently. But there's always time to be nice.
There's a lot of pressure on actors during auditions--the pressure of whether or not they're going to get the role (which can often mean they're not sure how they will pay their rent if they DON'T get the part), pressure from agents and managers, pressure from friends and family who told them to definitely not go into show business, and the pressure they put on themselves to validate themselves and their chosen career path.
There's often a LOT going on in an actor's mind during the audition, so try to make it easy for them.
Remember to smile, and thank them for their time. Go out of your way to be nice and pleasant to everyone that is courageous enough to step into your audition room, because they deserve it for putting themselves on the line for their (and your) art.
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