When it comes to giving advice to actors regarding the “business” of acting, I feel lucky and excited to have so many actors who can offer not only a different perspective from me, but one that based on one that is happening with actors now!
Working actor and assistant coach, April Hartman offers these wonderful words of wisdom regarding auditions. Enjoy!
Auditions, Auditions, Auditions…
By April Hartman
First, let me say that Auditioning IS the job of an actor! Most actors think the booking or the set work is the job and while that’s part of it, Auditioning is the main event. Think about it, how often do you audition compared to how often you work? Keep in mind that this is a numbers game. I’m betting you audition 80% of the time and work 20%. True, some actors may have higher booking ratios, but more often than not, most have a 10 to 1 ratio. It is just the reality of industry. Also, let me say that every audition is like winning the lottery. Think about this… when a CD sends out a breakdown for a job, they literally have thousands of submissions. THOUSANDS!! Now, let’s say they choose 100 actors to actually audition… 100 out of THOUSANDS. So, the next time you get that cmail or email from your agent saying you got the audition…. be GRATEFUL and give it all you’ve got because they CHOSE YOU from literally thousands!
So, if auditioning is the one thing actors do most, why don’t they spend the amount of time on auditions as they do when they book the job? Interesting, right?
Auditions can be tricky. Some actors audition well while others struggle from the minute they walk into the casting room. Why? Nerves, of course, play a huge role. But if you have studied and prepared, what’s there to be nervous about? What’s that you say??? Ahhh, the CD makes you nervous? I hear this time and time again. Let me say this… CD’s are PEOPLE! They are actually some of the nicest individuals I’ve met over the years. Here’s the other thing; they really do want you to do an amazing job. They are on your side! Think about it…. their job is to find the best possible actor for the job. How great do they look to their client when they find the “diamond in the rough?” Exactly! I have been to countless casting director workshops and the one thing they ALL stress is how much they want actors to come in the door and just WOW them! So, stop thinking they are the enemy or they are there to make your life miserable. They are truly on YOUR side.
- PREPARE!!! I tell students all the time… if you are not preparing for every audition like it is a job and like it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, then you’re already starting from behind. “You mean I should prepare for a commercial audition the same as a film or TV audition?” Ummm…. YES!! Are you looking up the tone of the show/commercial? Do you know the director’s work? What kind of humor does he/she like? What does the product do? How do you pronounce it? These things matter! And knowing this information will help you feel more prepared and because of that, the nerves will not overtake you.
- DON’T BE WEIRD! You laugh, but this is a HUGE problem. I have seen it a million times over the years. Nerves make people do, well, weird things! Keep in mind that when you walk into the room, the CD has probably either already seen 50 actors, or they are just starting a very long day of seeing the same thing OVER & OVER. So be professional! Walk in, do your job and leave! Be polite! Say hello, listen to their instruction, thank them and LEAVE! Time is precious and they have a ton of people to see. And I will say… I have seen ALL the weirdness. I have seen an actor try and stay in the room and try to chat it up the CD thinking the more they talk and the more time the CD sees them, the more they’ll want to book them. NO! I’ve seen an actor ask the CD if they had anything else they can audition for while they are there? WHAT??? That’s insanity! I’ve even seen an actor tell a salty joke to the CD thinking it was “cool”. Let me tell ya, it was not and by the look on the CD’s face, they didn’t think so either. Be professional!!! Go in, do your job, be respectful and kind, say thank you and LEAVE so they can continue their long day!
- DON’T BLAME YOUR AGENT! Listen, I’ve been there. And I hear it all the time… ”my agent isn’t getting me enough auditions.” But let me ask you, what are you doing? Are you leaving everything up to your agent? Guys listen, they get 10-15% of your pay. You get the rest. So why do you want to do only 10% of the work if you are getting 90% of the pay? If you are not keeping your materials up to date and not giving your agent good stuff to work with, well then you have no complaint. Headshots should be updated every 2 years! (every year if you’re a minor). You should have different shots showing different character types. Your headshots need to be professional and AMAZING!! You should have A reel! Reels should be updated with new content when you get it. Your acting sites should be updated every time you do something new. All of these things matter, and they help your agent or manager market you. Do your part and keep these things fresh.
- DON’T ATTACH TO THE OUTCOME! This is a hard one. We all want to work so bad and, in an industry, where you do not get to work as much as you want, well, it’s hard. I am guilty and I think all actors are guild of this one. You see the breakdown, it is the perfect role, you see the amount to be paid and HOLY MOLY…. your mind starts going berserk with all the things you can do or pay off when you book the job. Right? Admit it, I know I’ve done it. But what this does is get in your way of doing your job. Don’t think about the money. I’m guessing that if you’re a career actor, you’re not just in this for the money. And if you are in it just for the money, you’re gonna have a ton of disappointment. This business is HARD. If it wasn’t, everybody would do it. Don’t worry about the money, it’s not yours yet. Keep your head in the game and do the work! “Do what you love, and the money will follow”. Marsha Sinetar
- BOOK THE ROOM! This is a big one! I see so many actors go in the room to book the job. They want it soooo bad. You’ve heard them, right? “I really want this,” or “This one is mine, I can feel it.” We have all done it. But here’s the thing…. chances are, you’re not going to book it. Calm down, I’m not saying you will never book it but remember this is a numbers’ game and most of the time you won’t. It’s just the reality of this career. Does that mean you shouldn’t care? NO! It means you walk into every room and BOOK THAT ROOM. If the job is meant to be yours, it will be. If you blow them away or if you are just perfect for what they’re looking for, you’ll book it. BUT what if you just went in prepared, ready and confident and blew them away!!! What if they absolutely loved you, BUT you didn’t exactly fit what they were looking for at the moment? Guess what? They remember! If you get nothing else from this blog listen closely to this! Are you listening? CD’s remember and they WILL keep calling you back in for EVERYTHING if you impress them with your professionalism and choices. I’ve even seen a CD book an actor for a different project without auditioning again based on what they did in a different audition. Why? Because the actor BOOKED THE ROOM! They came in and did their JOB and made the room fall in love with them! So, go in there and give them your absolute best EVERY SINGLE TIME!
Auditions are tricky and unfortunately there is not a formula I can give you to get them down to a science. Think of them like this: you are getting to show someone else what you can do, even if it’s just a few minutes. So, leave them with a good impression of you as a person and as an actor! And as you do more and more, they will become a little easier! Break a leg!!!
April will be coaching an Audition Intensive via Zoom on March 3, 10 & 17. Actors will be there for all three nights, 6:30 – 9:30 and the cost is $150. Seats are held with payment and payment can be made here.