Preparing for an Audition for New Actors
"How can I prepare myself for a successful audition?" Oddly enough, success in this field doesn't necessarily mean getting the part. Sure, that would be the ideal outcome, but even great actors must go on lots of auditions and they may only get a few parts. Those auditions they go on and don't get aren't a waste of time, though, as long as they make a good impression on the casting director.
"How can I make a good impression?" Just be ready to go when your name is called. That sounds easy, but just getting there late can throw a wrench into your well-rehearsed audition scene. Casting people may smile when you say, "Oh, oh, wait...can I have another minute to floss my teeth, learn my lines, go to the potty" or whatever, but they aren't really thrilled that you are now making them wait. So get organized.
"How can I get organized?" Sure, organization isn't considered an artistic quality, but it should be. If you are organizationally challenged, start with the necessary details before you get to the artistic touches.
- Find a place to record the details that you will not lose. A phone is fine, but if you forget yours, or lose it, your life will be upside down when you least need it to be. Print out or email the details to yourself. Better yet, use a small notebook that lives in your car, purse or backpack. Staple the original in that.
- Write down the time and location of the audition using the original message. Set a reminder in your computer or on your fridge. And don't make your way to the audition from memory, or assume you know the building. Actually look at the information from the original email, or look it up on the Internet to be sure you heard the voicemail correctly.
- Determine your travel time.
- Ask if parking is available or if there it is street parking. Add more time for street parking.
- Determine your route, directions, and length of time it will take to find a spot. Add travel time together with parking and getting into the building time, and time to freshen up.
- Plan to arrive 15 minutes early. Leave your house or work early enough for travel, parking and primping. Make a note on what time you need to be walking out of your house. Don't change your oil or get gas or stop at the post office on the way. You will make yourself late. And you will make yourself have a bad audition if you are late.
"How do I prepare artistcally?" Read whatever material has been provided to you, whether it is just a character description or a full script. Read the whole thing like your life depends on it, because for those five minutes you are in the room, it does.
- If you are a trained actor, this is where you begin to think about arc and subtext. Don't cheat this step. Even though no one is going to check your homework, it will be SO APPARENT to the casting director and anyone else in the room if you just learn the lines and don't commit to specific subtext for each line. The person who gets the part works this step hard, and re-works it until the choices are original and perfect. If it feels dull to you, it will be really dull to them. Remember, they have to watch these scenes a million times. Well, maybe not a million, but if you don't make specific and interesting choices, yours will feel like the millionth.
- If you are not a trained actor, well, get some training! But if your cousin's boyfriend thinks you'd be great for this and you are running to an audition tomorrow don't have time to learn the finer details, just familiarize yourself with the character and the story. Imagine yourself walking in the shoes of the character. Read the audition scene out loud to yourself. Make your roommate, mother or bored neighbor become your reader. That means they should act like the casting director and read the lines of the other characters until you know your lines by heart. It may take some time, so promise them you will thank them when you win an Academy Award. Work this step until you can picture yourself in a small room, doing a great job. It should take you at least an hour -- longer if the scenes are long.
- What should I wear? You don't have to wear what the script specifies. Don't waste your time shopping for an "Iron Man" costume for The Avengers sequel, when you should be studying the script. It doesn't hurt to help yourself feel like the character, but pull something you feel great in out of the closet and make sure it's ready to be worn. Don't be ironing your best shirt when you should be in the car. Do what your mother told you to do when you were six. Lay your outfit out the night before. Do this step after you are too tired to work on the scenes.
If you do all of these things, you can consider yourself well-prepared. If you want to really dig in, call an audition coach to help you. If you have lots of notice, start the artistic part as soon as possible. The more time you prepare, the more choices will occur to you and the richer your audition will be. Remember, you just have to make one good impression to have many more chances. Break a leg!