Top 10 Ways To Tank An Audition
Your agent called and you have an audition. Wonderful! You got yourself an agent and the agent decided to send you out. That’s huge; but if you have never auditioned or taken an auditioning class, it doesn’t matter how hot you look or how much “raw” talent you have, you’re gonna suck. There are certain rules to the room that you have to know. Sure you might get that part because of your look but that’s a one-off. If you have any desire to build an acting career you need to train. Plain and simple.
I recently sat in on a two-day casting session for a television movie. The extremely gracious casting director tried to give every actor a fighting chance but after a while the auditions got backed up and there was no more time for teaching moments. Game over. If only they had this list ahead of time. Here are some basic audition tips you need to know that will help hide your greenness and just might get you past the reject pile.
What Not To Do In Your Next Audition
- FORGET A HEADSHOT AND RESUME. CDs may be going digital but you can’t count on it. Always, ALWAYS have a headshot (that actually looks like you) and resume in your car, stapled together and ready to go. Make sure that your name is somewhere on your photo in case the two are separated by the CD. And while we’re on it, double check your spellings; especially the names of directors and acting coaches. Ie, it’s Robert Andrus not Robert Andrews.
- FORGET TO SLATE. Nine times out of 10, the casting director or his assistant will ask you to “Slate”. KNOW WHAT THAT IS! That’s where you speak directly into the camera and state your name; and usually your talent agency. It’s the only way a director is going to know who you are when they watch back the tape. If you are a minor, you’ll probably have to say your age as well. If the CD doesn’t mention the slate, ask. It’s also okay to ask what they want If you are unsure of what to say. General rule of thumb: If there’s no camera in the room, don’t slate.
- MOVE OUT OF FRAME– The camera sits on a tripod for a reason. It’s fixed and you should be too; especially if there’s a “mark” on the floor. Ask about your framing if you feel like moving around. If you give the camera person a head’s up they may be willing to follow you.
- IGNORE YOUR EYELINE. If the CD doesn’t tell you who you with whom you will be reading your scene, ask. AND LISTEN. Nothing says “next!” more than staring into the camera (or the casting director) after you’re told to read to the guy (or girl) sitting to the left of it.
- BREAK CHARACTER WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF LINES. The scene isn’t over until the CD says it is. Your reader might improv with you, you could start an improv on your own if there’s a long pause or you could just stand there reacting to the last thing said. This is where your “button” and “moment after” come in handy. Take a class for more on those and other techniques that will make your auditions shine.
- NOT KNOW YOUR LINES. Memorize your lines. If you suck at it or you were sent five pages an hour before the audition, become as familiar with the sides as possible and see #7 below.
- PRETEND TO BE MEMORIZED. You have your sides. Don’t leave them face down on the floor or chair. HOLD THEM in your hand. It’s much better to look down and grab a line if you must rather than stand there with a brain fart, apologize and ask to start again. Which leads to …..
- APOLOGIZE – You’ve got to start somewhere? Do it in class not at an audition. Walking in and saying, “I’m sorry…This is my first audition, I’m nervous, I got the sides today, I have allergies,” is not charming, endearing or an adequate disclaimer. If you have to apologize, you don’t belong in the room. Own whatever it is you chose to do and never apologize for it. One, it calls attention to something the CD might have overlooked and two, it makes you look insecure, unprofessional and needy. If you forget a line, stay in character, look at your sides and continue.
- ASK FOR A RETAKE. You only get to do those at home or with selfies. Here, you make the first one count. The only exception is if you honestly have a completely different read planned. You’ve prepared the sides for that serial killer role both as a tormented, sexually abused drug addict and as the guy next door who has a thing for blood and you’d like them to see your range. Don’t be afraid to ask but also don’t feel rejected if they say no. Do your best then let it go.
- STAY WHEN IT’S TIME TO LEAVE. It’s over, the CD says thank you. Unless you are good friends and have some catching up to do, be gracious, thank them back and walk out. Don’t linger as if to say, “Are you sure you don’t want me to do it again?” If they want to see more of you, they will call you back.
If you’ve read to the end of this list of audition tips you may realize that there’s so much more to learn when it comes to acting. Get out there and train; find coaches you click with, and never stop practicing. The more you do it, the more confident and better you get. See you on set!