An audition is your first step to reaching a creative project in film and TV and can be one of the toughest parts in the film industry. Many actors will want this so bad, that they make small but integral mistakes and fail at the first step of this creative process; the audition.
Auditioning is a tough skill to master but once mastered you’ll see a huge increase in roles being handed to you, it takes time and guile like most skills, but you’ll get there in no time.
To navigate this difficult task we have put together 7 steps that will help you nail your next audition.
1. Learn your lines
It may sound obvious but the first and primary concern is to LEARN. YOUR. LINES. Try not to worry too much about performance early on.
There are many different methods for line learning but, whilst repetition is key, try not to get stuck with a specific method of delivery. It may give your performance less room for improvisation and realness.
If time permits, make sure you are dead letter-perfect. It’s easy to say – “I know it more or less” and be happy but whether consciously or sub-consciously you will take the tension and nervous energy that you might get the lines wrong into the audition room and it won’t help you. Read it before you go to sleep.
Recite it on your bike/tube to the audition. Backwards. Sidewards. Just make sure you’re totally secure, allow yourself to naturally respond to the lines and your performance should shine through.
*Also note this isn’t always applicable for theatre auditions where you can often have the script in hand, still best to be as close to off-book as you can be.
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2. Get your bad take out of the way
Ever feel like your first take is your worst? Get it out the way before you go into the audition room. You will never be able to exactly recreate the audition room but do a couple of mock auditions at home. Video yourself. Make mistakes.
Find the areas of your performance that need work. If you have somebody you trust then let them watch and give you some feedback.
Preparation does not mean saying the lines in your head loads of times. Get it in your body. Get it in your brain. Ingrain it in your muscle memory so when you’re in a different space with different people you are able to relax and let your performance flow.
But most of all get that first bad take out of the way so that you don’t have to do it in the audition room.
3. Physical preparation
As actors, our bodies are our tools, and whether consciously or sub-consciously we physically present a lot of emotion and meaning in the audition room. So as far as possible we need to be relaxed before we enter.
Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to get to the casting, sounds obvious but entering out of breath and sweaty puts you immediately off your game. Also if you are sweaty, make sure to bring deodorant, these things get noticed.
Try not to have too much caffeine before the audition as this may also affect your performance negatively.
Try to practise some deep breathing exercises at home which you can recreate before you go into your audition to keep you calm and focus on the task in hand. Feel the floor, ground yourself physically and take your time before you begin.
4. This audition is more than just the gig
Remember that you’re not just auditioning for this specific role but for future roles the director/casting team may want to see you for. Remember that the casting directors always want you to do well. They want to be able to present the best options to directors (that’s their job).
Casting directors are on your side, so do your best not to be intimidated by them and listen to their advice as they will know what the director’s intention for the role is more than you do or they may be testing how you take direction.
If you turn up and you’ve learned your lines and give a great performance, regardless of your suitability for this specific role, they will trust that they can bring you in again next time around.
5. Use it as an opportunity to improve yourself
Forget about the job. Forget about the money. This is a learning opportunity. Make this audition about you rather than them.
Take the time to enjoy it and to learn from it, after all, we became actors to act and this a moment to show your talent.
Never look at an audition as a one-off event, it is part of your progression as an actor and you will learn something from every audition regardless of how it went; we learn more from our mistakes.
6. Get in and GET out
Be yourself. Be friendly. Be courteous. But also don’t hang about. You’ve done your performance, you’ve achieved what you came here to do, thank them for their time and leave.
Unless prompted: Don’t shake hands, don’t pass comment on the weather, don’t talk about your opinions of the script or director, you can lose or gain a job after the “acting” has already happened.
It’s good to be polite and friendly but you don’t want to come across as keen or desperate. Yes be passionate, yes show you want the job but a desperate actor is the last thing a casting director wants to see.
7. Forget about it
Allow yourself five minutes of self-depreciation (or occasional appreciation) and then drop it. It will do you no good either way agonising over your performance or reminiscing about how great you were.
Yes, analyse how it went, yes celebrate your successes, take notes of thoughts and lessons for the future, but remember you are your own harshest critic so try your best not to listen to the voices in your head.
Also remember that 90% of the time the final decision will be less to do with your acting but with how you physically fit into the role, the other casting and the director’s final vision for the piece.
For more advice on audition practises read:
- Daniel Dressner’s “A Life-Coaching approach to Screen Acting”. An empowering book combining screen-acting and life-coaching in an accessible and personal way.
- Ron Marasco’s “Notes to an Actor”. An easy to read actor/director’s take on the profession with invaluable advice on auditioning practise and acting technique (also available as an audiobook).