Preparing your audition bag is almost as equally important as preparing for the actual audition. Yes, you might have practiced the script, prepared your outfit for the day, and gone on a diet for at least a month to look perfect for the part you are applying for. But what use would that all be, if you showed up at the audition hall without your headshot and résumé or the script to your monologue?
This is why preparing your audition bag should be one of your priorities. Before you go to sleep the night before, make sure everything you will need at the actual audition is in your backpack.
Essential Things You Should Always Have in Your Audition Bag
To help you prepare better, here’s a list of the most important things you should always have in your audition bag.
Water and snacks
Going to auditions means having to wait long hours for the event to start and in between phases. So if you don’t want to suddenly feel parched with no place to grab a drink, you better prepare a bottle of water. Keep a refillable bottle of water the night before the D-day. Also, pack some light, healthy snacks in your audition bag so in case you can’t go out for lunch, you’ll have something to eat.
Headshot and résumé
Now casting directors ask e-copies of the applicant’s headshot and résumé, but there are still casting agents for TV, film, and commercials who prefer to do things the traditional way. These people ask for a paper version of your important documents, so it pays to always have your most recent headshot and an updated version of your résumé in your audition bag. Keep all copies of your headshot and resume in a sturdy folder or Kraft envelope in your bag so they don’t get bent, crinkled, or wet.
If you have a commercial, TV/film, or voice-over demo reel, keep a couple of copies in your bag so you can produce them if they are asked for. You should also have digital files of your reel in case you’re unexpectedly required to submit them digitally. You may choose to store the digital copy on your phone or in a flash drive.
Script, copy, or sides
If you have been given or assigned your copy of the material in advance for an audition, make sure you bring it with you in your bag. Nothing’s worse than an unprepared actor, and the casting panel expects you to know the material inside and out before being brought into the audition room. Once you have internalized the sides enough, you’ll be able to not only immerse yourself in the character but also connect with your reader completely. Familiarizing the sides makes your performance more authentic because you are present in the scene. The best way to do this is to review and reread the material over and over until an hour before your turn.
Change of clothes and comfortable shoes
Pack a nice pair of readily wearable clothes just in case you get all too sweaty or need to change to a better outfit. Also, when it comes to audition, there’s a lot of walking involved, not to mention the trips you have to make to and from the audition venue. So don’t forget to store a pair of comfortable shoes in your audition bag.
Always carry a pouch containing grooming essentials (e.g., hairbrush, ties, spray, perfume, deodorant, wipes, and the like.) You don’t want to worry about having food between your teeth after eating your snack, so don’t forget your toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss. You certainly want to look fresh when it’s time for you to stand before the casting directors, as if you haven’t spent the entire day in the hall waiting for your name to be called. It pays to do some retouch as well, if you still have time for it, so never forget to prepare a grooming kit.
Pen and notebook
There are instructions and guides that you simply cannot instantly memorize the minute they are given. It is highly advised that you keep a pen and notebook in your audition bag so you can jot down important information. You can also use it as a journal to write down personal observation of other auditionees’ style, preferences of casting directors, and self-assessment. Over time, your notes will serve as your guide to help you ace your next audition.
Pen, pencil, and sometimes highlighter
If you’re handed sides for a last-minute cold read, you’ll be so glad you have these tools with you. Also, expect to fill out a form when you get to an audition. Key details to remember and have on hand include your:
- Agent’s information. Good thing you have your résumé because it should also be on there.
- Body measurements. Your height and weight could be asked from you in any type of audition. The following are mostly for commercials: waist, bust/chest, inseam, dress size, suit size, shoes, glove, head/hat, neck/collar, etc.
- Schedule and availability. The form typically includes a section letting you know when the callbacks and/or shoot dates are scheduled for. If you have any conflicts on those dates you should write that in. So make sure you have your calendar on hand, whether electronic or a physical day planner, so you can include that information.
This one is not just for the ladies. Even men auditioning for on-camera work should at least bring powder or oil-blotting paper to take care of a shiny nose and forehead. Women, on the other hand, should keep their lip stain or lipstick and powder handy in case the waiting is long and lasts even after lunch.
Of course, you don’t have to see this as the definite list of what to bring; rather, use this as a starting point as you prepare your own audition bag. If there are things you deem important, do not hesitate to pack it. So even when an audition comes up on short notice and you don’t have enough time to get ready, you wouldn’t forget the things you can’t go out there without.