PSA - 5 Things to Avoid in a Casting

One of the most common questions we receive is, “What are you looking for in an actor and their audition?”, and to be perfectly honest sometimes we don’t know… until we see it. We’re in a beautiful position to be surprised in our work every day.

What amazes us though is how infrequently people ask how they can stuff up an audition. What are the things that grind our gears and what are they doing that could be potentially detrimental to their audition success.

Whilst we can probably rattle off a million things to do or not do in a casting, and believe us we’ve probably seen them all, we’ve put together the top five things not to do in a casting. Take it or leave people, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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DON’T Pre-empt a bad audition

Some of you might be shocked to hear how common it is for an actor to walk into the studio, and before even saying hello, we are bombarded with the reasons why their audition isn’t going to be their best work: their agent didn’t send them the script; they had work til late last night; their cat has been unwell (true story)… it could honestly be anything. Ultimately, it all comes down to a fear that you’re potentially not going to put up your best work.

We’re here to tell you… we will know. For the most part, unless you are brand spanking new on the scene, we are familiar with your work and your ability. So we can tell when it’s just not your day as soon as you begin and we will not, ever, let this be a reflection on you. We will work with you in the room to get you to a better place in order to send audition videos putting your best foot forward.

But you know what’s worse? When you’ve pre-ambled why it’s going to be terrible, and you end up nailing it. You’ve put a preconceived negative idea of you, your character and your time in the audition room in our minds and that’s no way to start an audition.

TIP: Start on a positive. It’s just that simple.

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DON’T Question Your Place in the Room

We’ll use our favourite Amy Kersey quote here - “Fill the room, not the brief!”

There is only so much material we can send actors and agents for initial auditions (there are a variety of reasons for this but sometimes the Director simply just wants to limit the amount of times you read the script). However, you can guarantee that we have seen A LOT more material than you. We’ve had meetings, phone calls, endless emails, have read and reread the Production Bible and have a larger understanding of the creative vision that the Director is wanting to bring to life.

Some actors feel the need to tell us once they are in the room, that they don’t think they are right for the role, or that they and we quote “don’t know why we even got them in for it”. Now, we aren’t saying every single person we get in is right and we never miss the mark but if we don’t push the boundaries and get creative we could miss an opportunity instead.

What doesn’t sit well with us is when an actor feels it’s ok to tell us when they think we aren’t doing our job right, and again the audition room is filled with negativity from the start. You never know what could surprise us, or the Director.

TIP: Don’t discredit yourself… or us for that matter.

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DON’T Undervalue the Job You Are Auditioning For

There is obviously a huge range of projects you could be auditioning for, from small branded pieces, huge brand advertising campaigns, short films, low budget indie films, privately funded feature films or large scale fully funded feature films. Every project warrants credit. What sucks for us to see, and is hugely detrimental to you, is when an actor comes into a room full of the attitude that the audition is not worth their time in the room or their time prior to prepare.

Always remember that we are seeing several actors who are doing the same material as you. So when they come in prepared and give it their all, and you don't, you tend to stand out like a sore thumb. You’ve bothered to come, so at least give it everything with a great attitude and you’ll probably feel much better about it all knowing you’ve given it your best shot and left behind a great performance and energy.

TIP: Don’t audition for things you don’t believe in (chances are if you have a negative attitude towards the material in the first place, you won’t get the job anyway).

DON’T Talk Shit in the Waiting Room… About Anything

We’re here to tell you, if you don’t already know, more often than not one of the people sitting at that big desk in our office behind the bookshelf (which, shock us, also provides no sound barrier just FYI) is either Steph and/or Alison. The people who own the company, are casting the job you are here for, have carefully selected you to come in for the job, and make the final call of whether we present or recommend you to the director and ultimately decide if you ever come back (big words from little ladies huh?)

So, for anyone who has sat in the waiting room and discussed fees, wondered aloud what Chicken & Chips is, questioned why they are auditioning for a role, compared themselves to the other actors in the room going for the same role, complained about the session running late and so on... you've probably been heard by us.

And haven’t we heard it all? Sometimes it’s down right entertaining and no harm is done. But sometimes it’s down right rude and inappropriate.

TIP: Always know who the Casting Director is (that is…the one that owns the company). It takes a 5 minute search on the World Wide Web to save you a lot of embarrassment.

SECOND TIP: The casting team talks to each other (shock horror) so be aware of who the assistant is.

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DON’T Ignore Direction or Information Provided to you From the CD

This is something that differs quite significantly between commercials and films but it’s frustrating nonetheless when we provide direction or context and an actor doesn’t listen. Sometimes, it’s blatantly ignored and sometimes actors are so caught up in what they’ve just done to focus.

Commercial auditions often involve more than one person and it’s crazy how often the actors get swept up in their own conversations between takes, while we are talking, and then when we call action again, no one knows what they are doing. It’s simple, but my goodness it happens more times than you think.

For films, our priority is seeing your take on the character. From there, every bit of information or thought we give you is in your best interest. It’s true that we don’t always offer much (sometimes it’s just not required), but when we do we really encourage you to take it on board. We’ve had numerous conversations with the Director and production team about what they are wanting to achieve and have some sweet nuggets of information and context you will not be privy to.

TIP: Always listen and take on board direction. If you don’t understand ask questions and clarify what it is we want.

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Despite giving you the hard word, our policy still exists and we are a nurturing and collaborative Casting Office - we are for the actor. So above all, don’t fear us and our pet peeves! Be prepared, come in and have fun!  

There’s your wisdom for the day people and like we said, take it or leave it.

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