How to avoid bad or time-wasting auditions

With the amount of effort it takes most performers just to stay in the acting industry there is nothing more infuriating then getting to an audition and realising you've had your time wasted. Every actor will have a set of stories about those auditions - it's almost a rite of passage - and it's certainly not something you should get down about when it happens, and let's be clear - at some point it will happen. However, none of us wants to go to the effort of preparing and travelling to an audition for nothing so here are some tips to help:

Have a good look at the casting breakdown. A good team will have put some serious thought into a production before they cast it and this should come through in the breakdown. Some questions to ask are:

  • Do they have an idea of what the character should look like?

  • Are you given some characterisation (bubbly & outgoing; hard-working and serious but with a soft side) or have they just said 'Female 20+'?

  • Have they given you an idea of where the character fits into the story and how they relate to other characters?

  • Have they given an idea of the style of the piece as a whole and the audience it's going out to?

It's also worth noting things like spelling mistakes - if they can't put out a decent advert to the actors how well do you think they're going to be organising their castings?

Research the company.

Start by looking for a website then reviews or chats about the company. The vast majority of serious companies will have some kind of web presence, even if it's just a Facebook page so take a look. Also, see who else has worked for them and be prepared to contact other actors to ask their opinion.

NOTE: be careful of discussing companies or individuals publicly, particularly online. This can slip into the realms of liable quite easily. This kind of conversation should be done in private messages, or one to one by phone or in person.

Check the pay.

This is not the place for a discussion on the morals of no pay, low pay and profit share work but it is worth considering just how serious a company is if they're not even prepared to cover expenses. If they see your time and efforts as unimportant then they're not going to worry about wasting it. There are A LOT of people out there who will gladly let you pay to do this job - financially, physically and emotionally. It is up to you to make sure you don't.

Use common sense!!!

If someone is asking you to travel 200 miles to audition for a student film that can't even cover expenses they haven't thought it through. If you go, neither have you. When going for any project it's very important to weigh up what you will have to put in against what you'll get out. All too often actors waste their own time by not thinking through what they're applying or auditioning for and getting themselves stuck in auditions or projects that are unsuitable.