It could be the chance of a lifetime or just some footage for your showreel. Either way, you still need to be accepted to audition, and then book the role! Casting Directors have stated to receive as many as 1,200 applications for a role. If you are selected to audition out of the initial applications, you will go up against anything between 2 and 200 other actors for the part (depending on the project, role, and level you are auditioning at). Today, with the rise of self-taping, Casters can ask many more actors to audition. This means that you are more likely to be asked to tape, but your competition will skyrocket.
Only 5 years ago, Casters would have no choice but to rent a studio to audition actors. The restrictions involved in this meant they had to be extremely selective with who they brought in. Now, Casters can ask any number of actors to send a self-tape, and then screen through the tapes to send on to the Director. The Director, of course, will make the ultimate decision.
After you audition, it may feel a little like waiting for a call from that cute guy or gal you met. You can’t stop thinking about it, and you jump every time your phone rings. But when the offer doesn’t come in your heart sinks and the disappointment sets in – welcome to rejection, the most common occurrence in your professional acting career. ‘They’ say that an average booking rate for an actor is one in every 20 auditions. Of course, your own personal ratio depends on your experience, age, and look or ‘type’. If you are in the most competitive category (early 20’s), your booking ratio may look more like 1 in 40 auditions.
Before we jump into it, note that we are not discussing ‘commercial’ auditions here - only film and TV roles. Commercials are their own breed, and generally require a ‘look’ instead of any real acting abilities. Today, Casting Directors are casting more and more Models and Extras, and professional Actors seem to be moving away from the commercial world. So, we will focus our attention on acting auditions for film and TV roles.
Now, back to the audition process. Whether you are auditioning for a student film, or a blockbuster, getting in front of the camera will always be an opportunity to showcase your unique talent. Whether you are self-represented, or have an Agent who sends you out, we have compiled a few pointers that will help get you started.
This is the meat of the audition. The who, what, when, where and what to wear. Your Agent will email you all of the relevant info that has been passed on from the Caster, whether they are inviting you to self-tape, or audition in person. Make sure you read everything very carefully and follow the directions that are given.
If you’re going to a face-to-face audition, it’s best to arrive at least 10 minutes early. You can expect to be at the casting as little as 5 minutes, and if they are running behind, up to an hour.
Whether you are auditioning for a speaking role or not, the Caster will send you lines to learn so that you have something to perform. Learn these lines back to front, but don’t let yourself get caught in a specific rhythm so that you can’t take direction on the day.
Another element that may need preparation is a dialect. If you are asked to perform in a specific dialect, make sure you have done enough prep so that you can switch it on in front of the camera. If you find it difficult to switch from your natural accent to the required dialect without carrying over a little Irish twang, that’s fine, just stay in character going into the room and politely ask the Casting Director if it’s ok to jump straight into it. This will save you from having a conversation in your natural accent and then trying to jump straight into the required one.
All of the above will still apply if you have been asked to self-tape, except it will be done from the comfort of your own home, and the Casting Director won’t be there (obviously 😂). You will have your own reader, own equipment, and you will need to follow their instructions as to how they would like you to label and send your completed tape. If you have an Agent, he/she may want you to send the tape to the Agency instead of direct to the Casting Director.
What to Expect
The audition may be held in a conference room in a hotel like The Central Hotel, Dublin, Ireland. Or in a Studio like The Courtyard Studio, Irishtown. Or it may be held at the Production Company or Casting Directors Office.
You may see a few actors with your look, but remember that you all have something unique to offer, and the Casting Director hand-picked you to be there!
In the actual audition room, expect to see the Casting Director and possibly a Casting Assistant. Depending on who you are auditioning for, either the Casting Director will read opposite you, or they will have their Assistant step in. Unless otherwise directed, always use the readers' eyeline when delivering your lines.
You’ll stand or sit on the ‘mark’ in front of the camera. Simply follow their directions. The Casting Director might ask you to slate your name and/or agency then perform the audition as directed. You'll find that after you go through a few auditions that they run in a similar way.
Congratulations! They liked what you had to offer and want to see you again! And this time the Director and maybe Producer will be there in the auditioning room! So expect your audience to grow from 2 to about 4 people. They liked what you did the first time, now do it again, exactly, right down to the wardrobe, unless told otherwise. And expect the Director to work you a little, test how well you can take their direction. It never hurts to dress in clothes that can be quickly modified to offer a different look as well.
You audition. You get a callback. Then you’re penciled. Basically it means that they really really like you, but for a myriad of reasons, not even half of them pertaining to your performance, they’re not ready to book you. There may be one or two other actors penciled along with you, so just hold tight and don’t go changing your hair colour or shaving your beard. Being penciled can feel like a great big tease when you don’t end up booking the role, but ultimately it says ‘you have what it takes!’
Break A Leg!
We have an ongoing list of current acting auditions on CastandHire. Going out for these roles gives you an opportunity to start auditioning with or without an Agent, build up a showreel, network, and gain experience on-camera or on-stage.
CastandHire members also get access to free Masterclasses like Self Taping For Success and Building Captivating, Relatable Characters for Stage and Screen.
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(Note: This blog was originally written for, and posted on our older website - Ireland Actors’ Guide)