I think I speak for everyone when I say the worst part of film making is casting. For actors, it means waiting in line for hours, going into a room where everyone is meant to judge you, and still trying to remain calm. For the crew, it means spending hours meticulously watching people to see if you can find just the right person for a role. No matter how you look at it, casting is tough. This past month I worked on a casting call and saw over 100 people audition, and I noticed many things people had in common that deterred myself and the rest of the crew away from casting them. This is that list.
The people that immediately stuck out to us were the extremely professional. The ones who walked in, greeted everyone in the room, had their resumes and headshots ready to go, and addressed us with “yes sir” and “no sir.” These people looked and acted professionally the entire time. They were confident in what they had prepared and were more than ready to nail the audition. This may not seem like a lot, but this step is important because most people would rather cast someone that is professional and easy to work with rather than someone that kills the audition but doesn’t have any of their paperwork straight. It saves time and money.
Being professional and being prepared definitely have lots of parallels but there are a few differences I’d like to cover. Mainly, being prepared is more than having your paperwork in order, it also means being ready for questions that the casting director might have. They might ask you to improv lines or to try for another role, or they could ask you more personal questions like why you like to act or when you moved to the area. The best advice I have for being prepared is to do your research. Look up the studio that is holding auditions, watch anything that they have available. This will help you get a better feel for their style and what they are looking for.
Memorize and rehearse your lines
This is another simple step, looking over your lines seems like a given, but the amount of people who came in totally unaware of what lines they would be reading was astounding. No one wants to watch an actor who has to constantly look down at their script. You also end up hiding behind your script when you hold it up to your face, so memorizing your lines gives you complete freedom to perform with your entire face and body.
Bring a physical copy of a script
For those of you that didn’t go the extra mile and memorize your lines, definitely don’t expect a script to be provided. The crew does not have time to print out hundreds of scripts to be given out to everyone auditioning. So make sure you have your own, and don’t say “I have it on my phone” because that almost looks worse than coming without one. So, bring a copy, read over it until it’s your turn to go, and hold onto it if you need to.
Dress for the role, but not exactly
We’ve all heard the stories of actors who are considered “too pretty” for a role, who then dirty themselves up to audition and get the role, and that might work for Jennifer Lawrence, but when it comes to starting off your career, I would try to look as put together as possible. Some people came in auditioning for roles of bums and drug addicts and they dressed like bums and drug addicts, but to me it looked like they came in their pajamas. It’s not a good look. This also makes it harder to see you in a better role. For example, if you were auditioning for a homeless person and you dressed like one it might make it hard for the director to see you as the CEO that they haven’t cast yet. So dress your best and let the performance speak for itself.
Don’t ask to perform something you’ve prepared
Several people came in to audition and they didn’t do so hot with the lines so they asked to perform something they’ve prepared beforehand. Not a single person was allowed to. Not only does it not give us any inclination as to how well you can do in the role you’re auditioning for, it also means you didn’t put all of your efforts into the sides you were given and were planning a back up. Focus on the role you’re going for and nothing else.
The most important step out of everything, is to stay calm. You may be exactly what the director is looking for when you’re reading to the mirror in your room but if you let your nerves get to you and hold you back, you’ll never get the role. So, just remember that the people in the room just want to see you do your best. They’re not there to scare you or make you feel bad, so relax, and give it all you got.