How to NAIL your audition
If you've been thinking about auditioning for a film (be it one of mine or for another director's project), there is no skipping the audition process unless you are an A-list actor.
The audition process can feel a bit intimidating, especially if you are new. Here are a few helpful tips to make sure your audition goes smoothly.
For the TLDR crowd, here is the list. I will break each section down into more detail below.
Read the entire script
Understand your character
Play to your strengths
Read with a partner
Memorize your lines
Submit your best take
Get your personality across in your slate
Use a simple prop
Dress the part
Submit auditions consistently
Note: If you'd like to audition for a role in a short film and live in Edmonton, please check out my casting calls page.
Now that those who have better things to do than read this super duper helpful blog post have left the room, here is a detailed explanation of each of the above tips.
1. Read the entire script
It's very important to understand the entire movie you are auditioning for. There are a number of reasons for this. As an actor, you should care about the stories you are a part of. Is it something you believe in? Do you feel it adds value to the world? Will it enhance your body of work? These are all important questions.
Most importantly, you must have a good grasp on the story to effectively audition for a role.
2. Understand your character
This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but it's number 2 on this list because it's so important to the success of your audition.
Understanding your character's goals, flaws, and background goes a loooooong way to getting you the part you desire.
As you are reading the script, take notes on important story beats. Ask yourself why the character made that choice/said those words/behaved in that way. Take note of their inner journey throughout the film.
When reading through act 1, ask yourself:
Who are they and where to they come from?
What is their desire?
What flaw has been holding them back in life?
What decision must they make to remedy this?
Pay close attention to the second act. Its where a film is made or broken, and reveals the most about the inner workings of each character. Ask yourself:
How are they performing under pressure?
In what ways are they adapting, failing, fighting, loving?
What does each scene tell you about their inner voice?
Are they moving away from their flaw? Towards what strength? Is it cowardice to courage? Narcissism to Empathy?
What wound is cut open as they descend into the "dark night of the soul" (aka the end of act 2)?
And for act 3, ask yourself:
How does their new-found courage play out in each scene?
In what ways is this courage manifested through dialogue and action?
What inner workings of the character lead to these words and deeds on screen?
How must they feel when they finally complete their journey?
3. Play to your strengths
While acting is essentially becoming someone else for the purposes of making a movie, it's very rare for someone to be able to make that transformation completely. Such performances are often characterized as "bad acting". My advice to you is to audition for roles that aren't a huge stretch for you, especially in the beginning of your acting career.
4. Read with a partner
This one is optional, but it can make a big difference. When submitting a self-taped audition, try and read with a friend. Doing so will help your performance quite a bit as you will have someone to play off of. I've seen hundreds of audition tapes over the years and while some people are good at going it alone, most benefit form an off-camera partner.
5. Memorize your lines
Want to stand out from the crowd? This is one big way to do it. While it's okay to read off the page when auditioning, actors who get "off-book" for their audition tend to internalize the character better and thus perform better on camera. It also shows that you care about the role and are a serious actor.
6. Submit your best take
You're probably not a One Take Wonder. Give yourself a shot at success. Warm up. Get loose. Get into the zone. Record 5 or 6 takes. Watch them back. You will discover your performance changes over time. Select the best take and submit that one (of course this only applies to self-taped auditions).
7. Get your personality across in your slate
I haven't seen this tip elsewhere online, but for me, it's huge! Trust me, when I am going through dozens of self-taped auditions, I take note of how people come across on camera during the slate. Some people appear friendly and warm and it gives me the impression they would be good to work with. Even if you are auditioning for an evil antagonist, you still have to be approachable and easy to work with. No zombie slates please!
8. Use a simple prop
One of the tricks of the trade I've learned over the years is that holding a prop can make an actor feel so much more comfortable, especially during auditions. It's hard to just exist in negative space in front of the camera. But give yourself a cup of tea in your hand and boom - you have a little context to live in. Obviously you should choose a prop that actually fits the scene you are reading.
9. Dress the part
You don't need to go full Bridgerton dress if you are auditioning for a period drama, but you shouldn't wear sweatpants either. Any little big of attention you pay to your wardrobe will be noticed, trust me.
10. Submit auditions consistently
As the old saying goes, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. The ugly truth about auditions is that only one person gets the role you are applying for. There could be 3 other auditioning actors or there could be 50. You just don't know. If you want to stay busy as an actor, you need to submit auditions year-round. Eventually, roles will come. Just stick with it!
For those brave souls who are still reading this post, here is a million dollar tip for you: BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. You will only do great things if you believe you can.
If you'd like to audition for a role in a short film and live in Edmonton, please check out my casting calls page.