Unless the casting director reaches out first - never shake hands when you walk into the room. The casting director and/or panel don’t want to be shaking hands with every actor that comes into the room. If they introduce themselves, just say each name in acknowledgment with, “It’s nice to meet you all,” but don’t invade personal space uninvited.
The chit chat portion is a chance for the director to get an idea of how easy you will be to work with and be around. Don’t walk in already in character, just be you. The easier and more professional you are to work with, the less they have to worry about.
Sometimes you’ll be given opportunities to show your personality. Be prepared to share an interesting fact about yourself or a hobby or leisure activity you enjoy. Bonus points if it can somehow relate to the character you’re auditioning for.
What calms my nerves is reminding myself that I’m here to help them choose the best person for the part – me. I was one of the select few actors that they invited in to audition, and they WANT me to book the role. I’m not worried about being judged on what I say; I’m looking for opportunities to show that we can get along professionally. During the audition, I’m focused on the characters’ choices, not the people watching me.
Don’t come in full costume, but wear clothes reminiscent of the character or film genre. Consider how you will be able to move in the clothes. You don’t necessarily want to sacrifice movement, and you want the director to still be able to imagine you as another character if there are other roles that could suit you.
Read the sides once through to get familiar. Then read them as if you wrote them – what intention were you trying to give to each character? Once you think you’ve understood them from that point of view, pick a spot to make a bold or interesting choice. If everyone’s first impression is that the character is angry and shouting, maybe you take a long pause and quietly and threateningly deliver the same line.
The director is trying to see you as the character, so think about what that character is trying to accomplish within the scene that makes them chose those particular words to say. Once you know what you are trying to accomplish, you will be able to speak with intension. When you get in the character’s head, they’ll get into yours as well, and that is clearly visible from the table and through the camera.
It is unlikely your name will be remembered. You will likely be known as “the one with the long hair,” “the one from Louth,” “the one in the yellow shirt.” If you can work something memorable into the audition or conversation, you are more likely to come up in conversation later. Just don’t be too weird! – No one wants to be remembered for that :-)
When you’re dismissed, pause, face the table and take a moment to thank them for their time. Don’t linger, but don’t run out the door. Try to be humbly confident as you exit.
I hope these tips have given you some extra confidence and insights for your next audition. Try holding mock auditions with your friends, taking turns being the director; This will help with the nerves, and you may even learn something else. Let me know in the comments how you get on. Have fun and break a leg!
- Cynthia Newman (Actor & Producer)
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