I treat auditions like I treated my first dates. It’s an opportunity to get to know a stranger and to learn from each other.
Yes, auditions are hard. But they’re worth it.
You’ve decided to go for it, to audition for a part in a short film. Congratulations! Now it all becomes real.
Auditions aren’t any easy task. The preparation, the anxiety, the thought of putting yourself out there and being judged.
If you want to star in a short film, or even land a small role, you will need to go through the process – just like every other actor since the dawn of theatre.
It’s important to point out that the actual process of acting in a movie is far more challenging than a simple audition. There are pages of dialogue to memorize, blocking to get down and a whole host of other considerations that come into play. Acting is a serious endeavor. If you’ve thought it through, and really want to go for it, then I invite you to read the rest of this post.
Rest assured, there is an approach to auditioning that will give you a good chance at success, or at least a shot at putting your best foot forward.
Let me share a few tips with you that I have assembled after watching hundreds of auditions over the years.
self-taped audition tips
1. Read with a friend for the scene.
I have added this tip first as it’s perhaps one of the most important on the list.
Reading alone is very difficult to pull off. There is often no sense of rhythm and emotions tend to fall flat in the performance. Having a friend there to read lines from other characters in the scene will ensure you capture your best possible audition on camera. Most of the successful self-taped auditions I see have a friend reading for the other part. They should be off-camera, just behind or beside the camera.
2. Rehearse a few times before you record.
This should probably be a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many times I see audition tapes where the actor is simply not prepared. It’s like those famous words from our parents, “If you are going to do something, do it well.” A big part of a good audition is rehearsing your lines.
3. Read through the entire script, think about the character and where they are in their emotional journey for your scene.
A decent script should give you a good sense of who the character you are auditioning to play is, what they want and what wounds they carry with them. It’s highly recommended that you read through the entire script a few times to make sure you grasp the character you are playing. If you have questions, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to the director (in this case, me – firstname.lastname@example.org)
4. Go too far and then dial it back.
There are very few one take wonders in this world. Give yourself the opportunity to have success by doing multiple takes. And do them in a way that feels different each time. Do a take that feels too big, too emotional. Then do a take that feels more natural. Watch your recordings. Note the differences in your performance. You might not be the director of the film, but you certainly are the director of your own audition. Find a way to squeeze the best possible performance out of yourself.
5. Don’t stress about using a good camera or mic.
A cell phone or webcam is fine. Just be sure you are in a well lit space and about 5 feet away from the camera, that your face is easy to see.
6. Have fun with it!
You may be auditioning for a serious role, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. It really shows when an actor enjoys the process of acting. You can tell with a single glance. And it’s powerful.
7. Create a proper intro / slate
Be sure to state your name and the character you are auditioning for at the start of the video. If you have representation, be sure to state who it is, be it an agent or an agency.
8. Be humble
When we look out at the world, we often see the success of others. We rarely see their failures. When is the last time you saw a social media post about failure? Please keep in mind that every single actor in the world has been excited for a part that they just didn’t get. It doesn’t mean they aren’t a great actor, it simply means another person was better suited for the role.
What I am saying is, if you apply to a role and don’t get it, don’t feel too bad for too long. Your name joins the ranks of the best who have ever graced the silver screen. Some actors audition for dozens, even hundreds of roles before landing a part in a film. Keep at it. Keep practicing. It will come.
I hope these tips prove helpful. I can’t wait to see more auditions come in for my short films. And even if you are applying for a part in someone else’s film, I wish you luck.
You can view my current castings calls for short films here: