October 3, 2015

10 Tips for Holding Better Auditions

One of the most difficult things about making a movie is casting the right actors for a role.

But before you even start to think about the daunting task of choosing the right people, you're going to have to think about how to set up an audition that will help get those people in front of you. Catherine Farrington Garcia, RocketJump's Director of Operations and in-house casting director for VGHS walks us through her entire casting process, providing specific details of how to prepare for, conduct, and assess an audition.

Catherine gives us tons of useful information, but here are 10 things you should probably commit to memory:

Read the script

This is a no-brainer. If you're inviting actors to come in and perform a scene, you're going to need to be an expert on the story -- understanding their character, the emotion of the scene, and the context of the scene you're giving them. They might have questions, so you'd better be able to answer them.

Draft a "casting breakdown"

You have to let actors know that you're looking for them, and one way to do that is to send out a casting notice. Catherine details clearly how to design one in the video, but just keep in mind to be very clear about what and who you're looking for and for which role. And do not include the location of the audition, otherwise you can expect a few people to show up that you may not want to be there.

Pool your resources

Casting calls are great, but they're not the only casting option you have. Use social networking, let your friends know you're looking for actors, scroll through your Facebook friends list and see if anyone catches your eye. Cast a wide net.

Create a separate email account for casting

Casting gets really confusing and stressful. You're looking at tons of headshots, resumes, and emails, so if you don't have a designated email specifically for casting, things are bound to get pretty hairy and unmanageable. Being organized will only help you make a more intentional, educated decision on who you want to fill a role.

Most important thing about an audition space: comfortability

Remember, these actors are the ones sticking their necks out for you -- coming into a situation they're unfamiliar with to perform in front of strangers and opening themselves up to criticism. (Don't criticize them -- it's an audition, not an acting class.) Be sure to make both the waiting area and the audition room comfortable, because an actor that feels comfortable will be more likely to give you a better performance that reveals their skills (or lack thereof).

Give no more than 3 pages

A great question -- how much of the script do you give actors to perform? Catherine says no more than 3 pages per emotion for lead roles and no more than 1 1/2 for supporting roles.

Have a reader

You'll want to focus on the actors' auditions, and you can't really do that if you've got your nose in the script. Get a reader, someone to feed lines to each actor so you can watch and observe each performance.

Assess actors as they enter the room

Are they in character? Are they nervous? Are they on fire? What? Figure it out and act accordingly. You're not going to want to chit chat too much with an actor that was ready and raring to go before they even turned the door knob. Conversely, you might need to ease the nerves of an actor that seems a little uncomfortable with the audition. And for the ones on fire -- keep a bucket of water handy.

Record the audition

You're going to want to reference it later, I promise. Let your actors know that their performance will be recorded (it's pretty standard, so they probably won't have an issue with it), and make sure that the framing captures their performance effectively. In other words, you might want a wider shot if the scene calls for a lot of movement, while you might want a tighter shot if the scene calls for a lot of emotion.

Say something positive and final at the end of the audition

Again, this is not an acting class, so do not give notes on their performance. Be professional. Be positive. Be brief. Thanks them for coming and let them know you'll be in touch. Catherine gives a few examples of things you can say to end the audition smoothly.     

Your Comment

3 Comments

That was great! Thanks for making this!

October 3, 2015 at 4:57PM, Edited October 3, 4:58PM

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LJ
682

Stellar. Thanks for the great information. We just finished project where a bunch of this information would've been really useful. Having gone through the process without knowing this, it definitely highlights the value of what is presented here. Thank you.

October 3, 2015 at 11:32PM

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Erik Stenbakken
Videographer & Photographer
289

A big thanks to the creator of this great video!

So much little things to remember to make the whole process run smooth. When I held an audition for Dreaming in Autistic Colors I blocked too many people for the same time block. I think it is definitely a good idea to space them out.

An additional tip that I took out of the experience would be to upload the audition videos to an online drive to make it easier to share with the director, producer and anyone else involved above the line.

October 5, 2015 at 1:52AM

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Tony F. Marquez
Writer. Producer. Director.
81