Here are ten tips which will help you behave professionally at castings and auditions.
These are things which I have learnt from conversations with industry experts and from my many years working in the industry:
as an actor, a director, an agent and in casting.
Don’t act in Black & White
I’m not being all poncy with that heading! I mean it quite literally – don’t wear black and white to a casting!
These ‘anti-colours’ won’t help your personality at all, but worse than that they really don’t look good on camera. Lighting isn’t going to be brilliant in a casting office and black will soak up what light there is and wearing white will cause have the light bouncing off and glaring. Small patterns are also a no-no as they can strobe.
Think about what you are going to wear with a view to it being on camera. Try it out at home with your own video camera, we all have them on our smart phones now. See what works well for you. I would suggest trying jewel tones: sapphire blue, emerald greens, ruby reds etc.
Arriving early is the professional thing to do and directors want to work with professionals.
Being ‘on time’ is being late – always aim to be at least ten minutes before your allotted slot!
Casting offices and rooms tend to be very small so be conscious of how you smell because you want it to be your performance which lingers in the casting room after you have gone and not your stench!
Beware of smoking before a casting because a smell of cigarettes is off putting for most. Be aware of your ‘natural’ smell – if you know that you can sometimes whiff of B.O then spray on some deodorant. Also question your use of heavy cologne or perfume just before a casting.
Try to smell neutral – soap, subtle deodorant and a mouth spray or pack of mints are an actors best friend before a casting.
Your general mood will affect the mood of the audition room, so stay positive. This is actually great advice for life but it is especially important in an audition room. Leave negativity outside the door, if you’ve been delayed on trains, if your agent didn’t get the sides to you, if you have been sat around outside waiting to be seen for over an hour – none of that matters in that audition room – maintain positivity!
Negative energy will just create a negative atmosphere – you are an actor, you know how to put on a happy face and also if you need to you know how you can channel that energy into your performance, if it calls for it.
Be the character – don’t wear the costume
In some instances a casting director will ask you to dress in a costume for a specific project, if this is the case then listen to them.
At all other times I advise to “come ‘in-character-esque’ when you audition” – by this I mean ‘hint at the character’.
If you are auditioning to play a nun then wear something high collared and conservative in a navy blue, don’t wear a habit! If you are auditioning to play a policeman wear black jeans and a plain button down shirt, don’t come in a bobby’s helmet!
Wearing a costume is unprofessional and distracting, wear something which lends itself to the idea of the character and let your acting become the focus of the audition.
Be off-book – but hold on to it
You should always learn your lines for a casting but when you deliver them keep hold of the script. This might sound contradictory but it really is what most casting directors will expect and are happiest with.
By memorising your sides you will be more prepared, your eyes will be off the page and you will be able to connect with your reader.
By holding the script you will be comfortable looking down and finding your place should you blank, you won’t panic or throw the scene, you can simply glance at the script find your line and then carry on.
Having the script in your hand is what every casting director I have spoken to recommends, it actually makes them feel more comfortable – an actor walking in without their sides can make the casting director nervous.
Too many actors will not ask any questions for fear of looking ‘stupid’ or ‘not being professional’ – the opposite is true!
A casting director is on your side, they want you to do well and to be right for the role, so asking the right questions shows you care and helps you to deliver it how they are seeing the role.
Good questions I ask at castings would include how to pronounce a word – I always ask this if I am auditioning for US casting directors and need to use a US accent, checking on your relationship with the other person in the scene – especially useful when you haven’t seen the whole script, and what camera frame they are shooting – if its very close-up then you know to pitch it really small.
Sometimes you will be seen for a project where the director is happy for some improvisation – they will tell you if this is that kind of project!
For any other casting try and stick to the words that are on your sides! It is a basic job of an actor to be able to memorise some lines so show them that you have that skill at least.
Leave creativity to the writers but also don’t kick yourself if you drop a word here or there, it happens to us all, just don’t purposely try and make the script ‘better’.
Keep it conversational
I have seen so many actors fall at this hurdle. If you started in the theatre, and most actors do, then you will have learned to project and your ‘on voice’ might automatically come out when you are called to act.
For an on-camera audition this will just be way too big – casting directors and directors need to see real people having real conversations and your voice could quite possibly be way too loud, even when you think you are keeping your voice down. Think of it as a conversation, as something just between the two of you, pitch it right for the camera.
This is also important in any on camera introduction you might have to do. Keep it really small and don’t come across as a theatre actor who has no idea how to play for screen. Keeping your voice calm, conversational and natural will help the casting director to believe in you.
Keep it to yourself
We all love to ask for luck before a casting or boast, brag or moan after a casting. We all do it, be it in person or on Twitter or Facebook.
Please don’t be specific! It is really unprofessional to mention projects and people by name and it can cause real headaches for casting directors and for your agent.
This is the same with bookings – I know it’s going to be hard but don’t shout to the world about your latest role until everything is confirmed and you are in rehearsals, and if it is a TV or film role then try not to shout about it until it is scheduled to air.
Breaking confidentiality in these circumstances is not just unprofessional but it could be breaking a contract which you or your agent has signed. It might be difficult to contain your excitement but keep it Mum!
Guest Post from Actor and Director Ben Hodge – We really don’t know what will happen. We think we know a lot of other things that often can mess with our choices, paths and decisions we make in our lives, art and work.