In my job, I’ve found myself running more than a few auditions. I’ve come up with some tips that might help you land roles in small, independent media projects:
(1) Show up on time, show up prepared. It may seem obvious, but it makes a difference. It doesn’t matter if your last show was written up in the NY Times or if you’re on a first name basis with Marty Scorsese – the person you are meeting today has no idea who you are or why they should hire you. Showing up on time shows respect to your potential employer. If you can, ask your questions about the role before you get on site, so you can spend your audition time, you know, auditioning.
(2) Don’t worry about memorization. It is much more important that you have a good understanding of the character and the tone of the piece than whether you have memorized the side. Memorization is nice, but you look a lot dumber standing there going “uuuuuuh” or restarting the monologue than glancing down at a piece of paper for a split second.
Image from dalydose’s photostream(3) Get a good headshot/resume. Even if you have little to no experience – especially if you have little to no experience – a good resume and pro headshot will impress how serious you are about being a professional actor. Don’t know what an acting resume looks like? Tisch does!
(4) Don’t question the director’s choices unless you think there’s a good reason to go there. If the director says “This character has an American accent” – don’t launch into your best cockney English, even if you think it sounds better. Again, obvious, but true. In industrial films and non-broadcast work, choices are not always made on their artistic merit, but because a client needs the product to come out a certain way. Try to be flexible.
(5) Don’t bring props or costumes. The director needs to map their own image of the character onto you. Wear neutral clothing to the audition – and by that I don’t necessarily mean color. If your character is a sharp 1920’s gangster, don’t go out and find a zoot suit and a fedora. You can wear a blazer you have in your own closet. The director will understand that you get the general sketch of the role, but it won’t look like you are second-guessing the director’s vision. I know you’ve all heard the stories of Hollywood celebrities blowing the director away by coming into the audition with a totally new look – but for every one of those there are probably a hundred people who showed up to play Harry Potter with a fake lightning scar on their foreheads. Don’t let that be you.
Finally, a bonus tip: Audition, audition, audition. Just cause you’re dead wrong for one role, it doesn’t mean you won’t get called back for something else.
Take note: Casting agencies work very differently than independent producers holding auditions in their offices, so check their policies before you show up!