Casting Director Tips: How to Prepare for an Audition

Whether you have a few years of experience and professional credits under your belt, have just graduated from a drama school or are completely new to the acting industry, preparing for an audition is something you will have to master. Just like a job interview, an audition or casting is often one of the first steps an actor will take to land a role, so it’s important you know how to make a great impression.

Over the years we have sat down with some of the industry’s top casting directors and asked them what an actor can do to impress them in an audition, as well as preparation tips that can put them in the best possible position of securing the role. Check out what casting directors had to say below.

How creative should an actor get with a script or brief?

Wayne Waterson - “I remember one occasion - after seeing maybe 15 -20 actors all playing the part pretty well, and as per the script, this guy came in and bought a burst of creativity that was like watching wild mercury in action. I don't know how he did it or exactly what he done but it was more alive than anything that was written on the page and felt as if Marlon Brando had come into the room to cast for a commercial.”

Jeremy Zimmermann - “I want the character that we’re looking for to walk into the room. Most actors will play it safe. What is most interesting is when an actor brings more to the character than what we saw in the script or imagined that this character had.” 

How can you best prepare for an audition?

Wayne Waterson - “Come into the room prepared, i.e. being off page with the script and dressing for the part is always good as it helps to give your character a skin that you can wrap around you. If you have a chance for a second go (a good casting director should always give actors at least two passes at a script) then try and think of a new way to present it, rather than doing an identical take. They have already seen you perform it one way, so give them a twist, something that that they may not have seen. It may not be exactly the ‘right’ way, but it will show that you can think around the script and that you are flexible to deal with new direction.”

Kharmel Cochrane - “If you have been sent the material with more than enough time to prepare, then I would say that you should be off book - it's always going to be better. “Come in and do the best that you can be. I'm never that keen on someone 'nailing' an audition. For me, it's such an artificial environment. Stale grey walls, a rubbish chair and bad sound to battle against. I like seeing growth in an audition, someone really taking notes well and having a play around with the material, even if it doesn't work. Often, I'll ask actors to do another take without giving notes, just to see what comes up.” 

What can an actor do to nail a self tape?

Jeremy Zimmermann - “An awful lot is accomplished by very little. Less is more. I don’t want to see a muddled background that distracts us from your acting.”

Manuel Puro - “I love self tapes and they have changed the way I work and cast. I’m very clear that they are a first step. We’ve got to be able to see you, your face, your eyes. Framing-wise, you need to show yourself clearly, choose your eyelines, kind of like how we do in a face to face audition. 

“Having a human being reading opposite you is great for chemistry, but I have seen incredible self tapes that use a voiceover to play a character off camera. You can do a lot with technology and, if you can't find a reader, you can record a voiceover yourself! I've seen some incredible self tapes that have recorded it all on their own.” 

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