I have been really fortunate in the last few months to see a lot of performers in auditions and it’s been wonderfully entertaining, as well as being such a great lesson and reminder about what we need to remember to do in auditions.
Auditions are as important as booking the job and working on set. They are, seriously! And if no-one taught you this during Lesson 101 of Acting School, then now is the time to learn. You don’t just book auditions. You nail them. How you do at auditions determines your success rate, not only in booking castings, but also in being called back in again and being seen for other work, other movies, other TV shows. And it can even affect your referral rate too.
So to keep it simple I’ve put together my four key things to do for every audition. Do this and there’s no reason you can’t nail it. It all comes down to CAST.
Stop and breath
Take your time
The number of times I have seen actors come in for 50 liners or less and not know their lines off by heart is astounding. You are an actor. Sure, in LA, I have heard that actors are auditioning for up to four roles a day and sometimes don’t have time to learn each role the night before. But it’s not like that in the UK. There is no reason why you wouldn’t know your lines off book when there’s only a page or two of dialogue.
With all the technology available at our disposal nowadays you can tape yourself with your iphone or camera and watch yourself back, you can put your lines onto a device and listen to them as you go for a jog, and you can even tweet your nearest pal and ask them to come over for a practise session the night before (they’ll need you to return the favour one day so don’t worry about asking).
When you don’t arrive prepared wearing the right costume, with lines down, and character built in your head, it shows. Right there on the screen as you are auditioning they can see moments in the actors eyes where they look like they are reaching for the words rather than living and breathing the character.
And as a side note, I once had an acting friend call me the night before a big TV audition for a lead role and ask if they should learn their lines off by heart. I was flabbergasted that they were even asking me that!
Arrive early: Casting Directors are so frustrated when you don’t turn up on time. They may not tell you, but it’s what they say when you aren’t there that matters. Sure, they’ll make you feel good when you do arrive so you are comfortable in the room and do the best audition you can, but just before you arrived they were grumbling about how they had paired you up with such-and-such for a reason and wondered wistfully where you are and why you are late. Just be early. Make your arrival time 15 minutes early and then mill around outside for the next 5 or 10 so you don’t walk in until a few minutes before your call time. This also then prepares you for the next step.
Stop and breath: Before you walk into that casting room (foyer, entrance, studio) take a moment to stop and breath and centre yourself. There were so many actors who came in to auditions recently who were nervous and took at least two takes to really calm down and enjoy the audition. Auditions are supposed to be fun. And when you have fun the Casting Director also has fun (well as much as can be had picking a hero out of 20 lookalikes). If you are running late you won’t have time to relax and get comfortable in the room. If you are early you can channel those nerves into healthy nervous energy. Nerves are a good thing as long as they are about you breathing in, embracing that butterfly feeling in your tummy and channeling the excitement of the audition into something that will help you to nail it.
And finally, Take your time:They have allotted you a time slot and they want to give you their utmost attention for the next 2, 5 or 15 minutes so relax and don’t rush. When you rush you loose your character choices, you fumble and stumble, and you miss important beats. Even if it is a commercial audition without lines, you still have beats. You still have a product you are trying to make look good. You still need to enjoy it, embrace it and relax into the role. And this will help you look great on screen.
And when you look great on screen, enjoy your auditions, come prepared and arrive on time you make yourself look good, your agent look good, and actors everywhere look good.
And you just nailed the audition.