AUDITIONS - HOW DO THEY COME ABOUT?
audition. The opportunity that all actors seek. That chance
to stand in front of a casting director and demonstrate
talent. To present why he should be the one to land that
part. In a business filled with thousands of hopeful actors
all wanting a shot at those auditions, how is it that a
casting director makes their choices as to who will be
seen? It begins with the actor’s agent and/or manager. That
is one of their jobs: to pitch or sell their clients to
casting directors. To convince casting that the talent they
want to send over is someone who will do a good job. But
how do talent agents and managers find out about these jobs
in the first place? Is it a ‘who you know’ sort of thing?
Are the auditions posted on the internet? Is it by word of
mouth? Well, there is some truth in all the above. In some
cases, casting directors may want to work with only a
select few agents of managers and will simply pick up the
phone and tell them what they are looking for. This may
result in immediate auditions or it may only be an
invitation for the agent or manager to submit appropriate
photos for casting to consider. But for the majority of
movie, television and commercial projects going on, there
are casting services which provide this information to the
show business community.
The industry currently utilizes three internet casting
sites. Each site is dedicated to a particular part of the
casting process. They are full service sites. Each actor is
given a user name and password for his account. Once on
board, an actor can utilize the many tools which are
offered. This includes a complete actor’s profile, acting
and personality video reels, up and down loading of photos,
updating resumes, access to scripts and many other
features. Each site has their own procedures for use, cost
of joining, etc. Please take a look at their web sites for
more information. Your agent and/or manager can help you
with any questions.
breakdownexpress.com - although some commercial and print
projects are offered, this site is primarily used for the
casting of feature films, television shows, internet films,
series documentaries, independent and short films.
lacasting.com - this site is for the casting of commercials
and/or print jobs.
castingfrontier.com - mostly commercials and/or print jobs.
Casting directors use these sites by posting descriptions
of the jobs they are working on and the type of talent
needed to fill the roles. Talent representatives access
these sites throughout the day and submit their clients
photos and resumes from their own data base within each
The industry standard for photos is color. Most actors have
several color photos posted on each casting site showing a
variety of 'looks' - hairstyles, wardrobe changes, etc.
Having multiple photos posted allows the talent
representative more choices in deciding which photo is
exactly right for each submission. This can be helpful when
you think that on an average commercial job, the casting
director may receive several thousand pictures to consider.
Having a photo which is more specifically in tune with what
the casting director is looking for helps the actor’s
chances of being chosen to come in for an audition. Of
course, photos are not the only things a casting director
considers. But it is the most important place to begin.
Also, posting photos showing an actor’s specific sports
skills or other talents could come in handy. Say for
example, a casting director is looking for 14 to 16 year
old males, all ethnicity's, who are good basketball
players. Now, rather than just having a nice smiling head
shot, the actor could have a photo of himself wearing a
basketball uniform while twirling a basketball on his
fingertips. A photo like that may give the actor just a
little edge over someone else to get called in for an
audition. Obviously, the actor cannot post dozens of photos
showing every little trick and sport that he can perform,
so it’s important to just pick one or two skills the actors
feels he is particularly good at. Discuss photo options
with your representative. They will guide you as to the
best kind of photos to post.
If the actor's agent or manager believes they have the
appropriate talent for a project, they will 'select' that
actor's photo from their data base to be seen by the
casting director. Attached to the photo is information
about the actor, including resume, special skills,
languages, training and access to the actor's other photos.
Casting is often very specific about only submitting those
with strong credits, or those who have carried lead roles,
or have performed numerous times in front of live
audiences. The casting notice may state, “submit only your
very, very best”, or, “submit those with strong stage
These are the guide lines your talent representatives use
in deciding who to submit. They do of course, ‘stretch’
these requirements at times, submitting people who may not
fit the breakdown exactly, but with other factors
considered could be a good candidate for the job.
Your agent or manager will then submit a photo and resume
via the internet. Sometimes the casting director will also
request, or even prefer, a ‘hard copy’ of the actor’s photo
and resume. Those who do will state so in the casting
notice and this is usually delivered via a messenger
After receiving the thousands of submission that pour in,
the casting director and their assistants will then decide
who they wish to bring in for a reading. Sometimes a follow
up call, or ‘pitch’, from the agent or manager is done to
further promote their clients to casting.
If the actor is represented by a good, well respected agent
and/or manager, the odds are sometimes better that he or
she will be given more opportunities for auditions. Casting
directors do not like to waste a lot of time. They prefer
to work with people who have consistently sent them good
talent over the years.
Gaining an understanding of how the audition selection
process works should help clarify why it is important for
the actor to take an active part in their own careers.
Build those resumes, get that experience, get some
training, do student films.....do those things suggested.
If the actor wants to audition for national commercials and
good roles in movies and television, he has to give his
agent or manager something to help convince casting
directors that he is talented enough to be seen.
Agents and managers are usually very truthful about how
talented their clients are. They should know their client’s
strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. Trying to
squeeze someone in who is not ready for a particular
audition can be harmful. The young actor especially may
have a terrible experience and the casting director may not
trust that agent or manager’s judgment in the future. Or
they may be very reluctant to see that actor for future
Most audition notices are received by the talent
representative and then sent to the actor via e-mail; or a
notice may be sent in a text message to your cell phone
informing you to check your e-mail account. How you receive
these notices is determined by you once you set up an
account with the three casting sites. Included in the
casting notice is the name of the project, the role the
actor is reading for, time of audition, wardrobe suggested,
location and if there are any lines or script for the actor
to learn ahead of time. It is the actor’s job to let their
agent or manager know that they have received the notice
and will be at the audition. This should be done as soon as
possible. The agent may also call their client to be sure
they have received the casting notice.
In most cases the agent or manager will receive the notice
a day ahead of time. This will give you time to prepare
your schedule and decide on wardrobe and to study lines.
But this is not always the case, especially when things are
very busy. It is normal to receive a call around 11 A.M.
for an audition later that same day. Always be prepared.
Don't leave things to chance or guesswork. Auditioning is
what all the preparation has been leading up to.
The majority of auditions take place Monday through Friday.
Weekend auditions do happen, but not frequently. For kids
and teens, the auditions are scheduled for after school
FOCUSED AT AN AUDITION
can be many distractions when at an audition. From a noisy
waiting rooms to angry casting directors. But this is where
the actor has to come through. This is what all of the work
One problem that many actors of all ages make during an
audition is blindly following the lead or tone set by the
casting director. Here’s an example:
Let’s say the audition scene calls for strong emotion and a
lot of physical animation. But once the reading begins, the
casting director reads his or her lines in a flat monotone
manner, does not challenge the actor and does not offer any
sense of urgency or timeliness to the reading. A smart
actor will pick up on this right away and will carry on
with full emotions and action blazing away. In other words,
the smart actor is not influenced by the lack of
involvement on the casting directors part. It’s an easy
trap to fall into, especially for the younger actor and
especially if not experienced. But a trap that has to be
The actor’s job is to leave the best impression he or she
can. It is out of the actor’s hands after that. Make them
think twice about giving that role to someone else or at
least keep you in mind for other roles or other projects.
The point is, if an actor runs into the ‘uninvolved’
casting director, then it falls completely on the shoulders
of the actor to STAY IN CHARACTER, CONTINUE THE SCENE AS IF
YOU ARE STANDING ON A SOUND STAGE IN FRONT OF THE CAMERAS
AND READING WITH JACK NICHOLSON....or Bugs Bunny or
Godzilla. Someone really important.
Another example. The actor is required often to read lines
with another actor who is auditioning for another part in
the film or commercial. As it sometimes turns out, the
other actor may have little talent - bad improvisation
skills, unfocused, poor reading, etc. Once again, do not be
thrown off when confronted with this situation. Stay in
character, keep moving forward, remain focused. Your
audition will only be affected if you allow yourself to be
There are some acting classes where this is practiced. The
acting coach will often use a monotone voice or appear to
be confused when working individually with the actor. It is
good practice and something you might want to try at home.
The message here is simple: do not be thrown off by other
activities going on in the audition room - telephones
ringing, people talking in the back of the room, radios
playing, someone stepping into the room unannounced or the
uninvolved casting director.
The actor’s time in the audition room belongs to the actor.
Make the best of it. Take the time and use it wisely.
Cattle calls are mostly a thing
of the past and not something to worry about. That's not to
say you won't attend some auditions which are quite
crowded. And you will have the occasional long wait. But
strict union rules on the amount of time an actor can spend
at a commercial audition without being paid limits how many
people may be called at once.
An "open call" is what it says: open to the public.
Attending one of these auditions is a real shot in the
dark. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of would-be actors
for miles around can, and do, show up. Open calls are
sometimes used as a promotional gimmick to bring attention
to a project. In most cases, they are a waste of time and
not seriously considered by agents.