Going the Extra Mile in Preparing for an Audition

Holly Bissonnette| February 3, 2020

Casting call announced too early? Planning to join that audition months from now? You’d want to make sure that you maximize each month of preparation you were given to deliver an audition performance you won’t regret. And when it comes to preparation, nothing can go wrong if you take extra steps. Here’s how you step up your game in audition preparations.

Going the Extra Mile for Auditions Announced Early

Start early.

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Preparedness is definitely one of the most essential keys to impress casting directors. Being casting professionals, the panel would know whether you have familiarized the sides, practiced, and clearly understood the character you auditioned for or not. It will show through even the slightest gestures or mispronunciations. The earlier you begin preparations, the more time you have for your training, research, lines, and practice.

Go off-book as much as you can.

Contrary to what you may have heard (memorizing the first and last lines only), be as off-book in the audition as you possibly can. Starting early with preparation gives you more time with the sides, so take advantage of it. The more off-book you are, the readier you are to truly engage with your scene partner. You’ll be ready for the director’s notes, and you can make distinct and personal character choices. Memorizing lines takes practice and constant repetition, so dedicate a certain number of hours each day for it. If you have trouble memorizing lines quickly, here are some valuable tips for you.

Research.

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Study whatever audition information they give you (TV episode, synopsis, character bios, etc.). The moment you receive material, go to a quiet place and start reading. Learn the story and then you can have opinions. Be proactive by researching the following:

  • Character. Getting into character is getting to know them as an individual with human characteristics. Organize some of the answers you’ve gathered from studying the breakdowns or script by dividing them into three categories: physical, social, and psychological (some would add moral and mental, but both may fall under psychological). 
  • Material. Analyze the role that your character plays in developing the story and make it a goal to portray this to the audience. What does the story, as a whole, intend to impart and in what way are you contributing to this message? What are the major plot points and bits and pieces that cause your character to say certain lines or make certain choices? Make notes. Ask questions. Know the material inside out.
  • Director or casting director. Look up the director(s) and casting director(s) and see whether they have a personal website or social media account. Find out what they want, like, and need. What kinds of projects were they involved in? Which actors have they worked with? Do they specialize in a certain film genre? Do you think you have what it takes to impress them and be up to par with their standards?
  • Production. Researching about the company you’re auditioning for will set your expectations and help you understand the kind of group you’re joining. Sometimes you’ll see a pattern of the types of people they accept in the cast. Some inside knowledge can be useful when you’re auditioning.

Keep your skills sharp.

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Always continue to study and take classes. You need to make sure your instrument is well-tuned. In an industry where competition is always tight, actors have to take the necessary steps to give themselves an edge over other aspiring actors vying for the same role. Even reading plays, actor biographies, or books on acting technique keeps your skills sharp. Watching plays and the performances of award-winning film actors also count! However, enrolling in acting classes is the best training as it allows you to master acting as an art form and offers you valuable industry knowledge you would otherwise not know about. Classes also give you the opportunity to perform and practice those skills. There are different types of acting classes to choose from. Check this article out for information.

Improve your portfolio.

When did you last update your showreel or headshot? Remember, headshots, résumés, and reels need to be updated from time to time. Headshots need to be updated if there are significant changes to your hair and looks or if industry trends have changed. Resumes have to include your latest awards, nominations, or best works. Likewise, your reel should reflect your most recent accomplishments and current on-camera appearance and abilities. 

Set aside the best audition outfit.

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Ginger Poole, producing artistic director at Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, Virginia, recommends solid colors, especially a bright color that works with your skin tone and hair color. Burgundy, emerald green, moss green, purple, grayish blue, and denim blue are some of the warm colors that enhance skin tones, frame the face, and give it focus. Hint at the character you’re auditioning for, but do not wear a costume. You can take out as much guesswork for the casting director as you can, but do not be awkward and overbearing. When you get yourself a callback, keep track of the outfit that worked in the audition.

Now that you’re extra prepared, you’ll be a lot more confident. Walk out of the room knowing you’ve done your best, and if you don’t get the role, you’ll realize that you weren’t the problem. The casting director’s choice is simply beyond your control; all you can control is what you do in that room.

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