I didn’t invent the audition process, as a matter of fact it’s pretty much the same format where-ever you go. As casting directors I think we all follow the same general guidelines, however what many of us are committed to doing is finding a way to make the process our own. What works for me may not work for someone else and that’s okay. That’s part of your job as an actor, to show up prepared and ready to adapt to any and every situation.
Here’s a snapshot of the process:
- You’re called in for a role.
- You’ve been asked to prepare material in advance, a script, monologue, a song…you get the idea:)
- You show up to the audition, sign in and wait for your name to be called.
- Finally, you come into the room, exchange pleasantry’s and wow us!
Easy right? It should be. What I neglected to mention is what in my opinion should be the easiest part of the job. Remembering that the audition starts the moment you step out your car. That’s right, the moment anyone within an earshot can hear your conversation. It’s the most basic rule that we assume you know, yet more often than not if you go to an audition workshop or class it’s the first thing you’ll hear.
Early in my career at Nickelodeon I had an audition experience that has stayed with me. I was auditioning kids, tweens to be exact for a project. I believe it was a pretty good project. A girl came in to audition for me and there was something about her that I REALLY liked, only the role she auditioned for didn’t seem right for her. That happens often. We’ll call you in for a particular role and once we get you in the room we realize that you may be a better fit for something else. That’s a good thing right?
Not in this case. I asked the young lady and her mom if they had time to take a look at another set of sides (the portion of the script used for audition purposes). I made sure to tell them to take their time and just let my intern know when they were ready to come back in. Well, she came in and was amazing! Like 3 gold stars AMAZING!
Feeling really proud, I commence to patting myself on the back on a great call. I may have just cast this role by taking a chance and going with my gut. You gotta love when that happens! Upon returning to my desk I get a call from the assistant to the president of Nickelodeon. The president of Nickelodeon is kind of like the pope calling you, it doesn’t happen! Apparently, the president had just rode the elevator down to the lobby with the young lady and her mom I had just auditioned. He had the privilege of overhearing their entire conversation while traveling 38 floors to the lobby. They were annoyed and appalled that they were asked to audition with material they hadn’t had an opportunity to properly prepare. Yes, the same material I asked them to take a look at to give them a second chance.
Wow! Try explaining yourself to someone who’s only heard one side of the story, an ANIMATED story at that. You know how people tell stories when they’re upset, it doesn’t favor the other side of the dispute. Wondering what happened? After giving my side of the story I promptly called the agent of the young actress to let them know what just transpired. The entire situation cast a shadow over her whole audition, the audition that I ONCE loved. It made us really think about what working with that talent and her mother on set would be like and the idea of it pretty much ensured that we wouldn’t be casting that family anytime soon. That’s the other take away I want you to have, when you are a young talent(under 18)…this business includes you and your parent or guardian. You are a package deal, it’s a deal that can make or break you depending on how you play your hand.
Call to action: What’s your audition experience been like? Share your experience here! The good, the bad, and the ugly:)