By John Henry Soto
Does this look familiar? “Attention actors!! Learn how to book the auditions you want from experts in the biz! Learn their secrets! Join now for 15% off!”
Wait a minute, secrets!? Well, it might be great information but why is it a secret!
The answer is, it’s not. This industry is wide open to anyone with the ability to read and ask questions. Two skills we should never take for granted and possibly the only skills you’ll ever need to learn the art of acting and booking auditions. So before you take advantage of that 15% off deal, read this.
I’ve been auditioning for a long time and recently I’ve moved to the other side of the table to become that fictitious holier than thou image we tend to create in our minds.
What I realized being on the other side now is that I shouldn’t have worried so much before crossing over.
The experience of casting has been extremely helpful and I’m hoping I can impart this information to you with this article.
When we’re talking about auditioning, we have 2 factors that come into play. One, where to get auditions and two, how to audition.
When I first started studying with my acting coach, one of the first things she told me was this, “The job of an actor is to book auditions.”
I didn’t really understand that and I mistakenly ignored it.
She never told me where to get auditions or the skill needed to have a successful audition. It also never occurred to me to ask. I was too concerned with learning how to act.
Obviously, studying the craft of acting is an important factor to booking work but booking the audition always comes first so we need to discuss it and understand what we can control during the process.
The audition is your entryway to the industry via different projects big or small. Sometimes that audition is the only acting we’ll get to do for weeks so It’s important to study your craft daily and always be prepared.
You also want to be auditioning for the right people so I’ll be listing a few sites to get auditions where I had great success and some other ideas later in this article but first let’s talk about Audition Control for a minute.
Audition Control is something I made up and apply for all my auditions and I hope it can help you. When you book an audition the process is almost always identical from the last audition except for one thing.
The material. The material is really the only thing you can truly control during your brief time in that room.
My next statement will sound almost too simple and I’m sure the word, duh, will enter your mind but it’s an important factor to auditioning. Hold on to your hats (if you’re a Hipster your fedora or skull cap) cause here is this amazing bit of wisdom!
Know the material inside and out! That’s it.
Duh, right? Well, believe it or not sometimes the material takes a back seat to the audition process itself.
By process I mean the agonizing game your mind begins to play with you the moment you book the audition. Where is it? What time? Is this project financed? What will I wear? Do I have to run out during work? Etc… And finally we end with, Oh let me look at the sides.
By the time we look at the sides we’ve already sweated a million and one unnecessary things.
If this is what happens to you just realize that you’re perfectly normal. I mean we’re about to be judged for something we love to do so naturally our emotions will be challenged.
But let’s take a quick look at these particular questions and see why they have no bearing on the audition itself and therefore we shouldn’t let it impinge so much on our process.
Where is it and what time should be answered within the first 20 seconds of getting the call or email. You can’t control this so just look and move on.
If you can’t make the audition because of other obligations then you just can’t do it. Don’t go crazy trying to rearrange your life. This will only move you further away from your abilities as an actor and not help your audition. You can also just explain to them you can’t make it at this time.
Remember, they called you because of something you had that they liked. My experience has always been that professionals will work with you and try to reschedule.
Now if it’s a big audition and rescheduling is not an option, then try to work it out but remember you still can’t control time or the place so don’t spend too much time on it. Decide if you can or can’t and move on.
Is the project financed? You will not know this until you book it and the contract has been presented with the symbol $ on it. If you like the numbers following that symbol then your question has been answered. Don’t worry about it. Move on.
What to wear? You know what you’re going to wear cause you wear almost the same thing to every audition. If the breakdown calls for a specific look, then do the best you can but move on cause I’m sure you look marvelous daaarling…
You can clearly see that the concerns that arise right after you book an audition are irrational because they will not improve your chances of getting hired for the gig.
So how the #$%^ do we overcome this time period from booking the audition to the actual audition?
Excuse the symbolic language.
Well, we overcome this by applying two steps.
Step one. Stay in preset time while you’re reading the logistics on the audition. By present time I mean stay in the moment. You can control the moment effectively if you don’t cast yourself as the lead in the play Dark Audition Mystery. It’s a play no one ever wants to be cast in or even see. Review the logistics on the audition quickly and keep moving.
Step two. Jump on the material right away and know it inside out. You should feel 100% confident to walk in the audition room without the script in your hand. Blow them away. I remember auditioning for the show The Blacklist without a script in hand and the casting director asking me if I needed a copy. I said no and proceeded with the 5 pages of dialogue.
I didn’t get the role but at the end of the audition the casting director said, “That was really good John.”
Casting directors at that level don’t have to go out of their way to compliment anyone because they have so many people to see. You normally get a thank you and good bye so it felt good to get that response. I did my job and moved on to the next one.
I love my acting coach but she never explained to me where to find auditions or how to audition. Mainly I feel that she knew it’s a process that each person has to develop and strengthen for themselves. We’re all individuals and we operate differently. That’s what makes the world an awesome place.
Getting nervous is going to happen and it’s normal but if you control the material and really make it your own, then you can control the audition room.
When I first started looking for auditions I made many mistakes and paid a lot of money to sites that promised the world but delivered a grain of sand. But within all those grains I learned valuable lessons that I use to help others maneuver around the pits of the industry.
Because I’ve done so much in a short amount of time I can write a book on this subject therefore, If you want more on this subject, please feel free to reach out to me via social media. This is a broad subject here but it can be applied and streamlined for an individual and I would be happy to help you with that.
Here are some of the things I did that helped me early on in my career. Understand that this is for my acting work but my projects that I’m currently producing is not dependent on these sites. That is another subject that I would love to write about if the interest arises.
Seasoned actors will know these sites. I still pay for accounts with Actors Access, Casting Networks & Backstage. I always book work on these sites and I haven’t found anything else that delivers the results they do.
I utilize social media heavily and it accounts for 95% of my work today coming from these sites. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin etc… I use all of them daily. Social media can get you in communication with people in the industry so as a new actor getting on there is important.
As artists, we’re living in a different world because of technology and we control a lot more than we think but we have to get involved and educate ourselves.
Now for very new people, if you don’t have any projects under your belt, there’s no need to go to pay sites just yet.
Mandy.com is a free site and I booked a lot of unpaid work there to create my first reel.
Schools such as NYU, SVA, NYFA in New York City or any local school with a film program near you will always need actors for their projects. Get involved. I’ve done many projects for all of these schools when I started out. You do need to be cautious with some of these school projects for the simple fact that they are not experienced filmmakers and might not complete the project or just create a tough working condition for the actors. However, the teachers of these students are always very professional and great leaders. I always take it as a learning experience and if you do enough of these you’ll have a reel in no time. Not to mention a ton of great stories to tell.
It is important to have some footage of your work because it gives the casting director a chance to hear your voice and see your expressions and acting abilities before calling you in for an audition. This will make your audition more meaningful to you because you now know they already saw some of your work. Then you can go in and blow them away.
Another thing that I recently saw and thought it really made sense to beginners is to make your own reel at home. Just learn a monologue and video yourself. Just make sure the lighting is good and you’re standing in front of a plain wall. I’ve had a few really good submissions like this and it made it very easy to decide to call the actor in for an audition. Filmmakers like to see something and I’m confident your auditions will increase even with just a simple cell phone video produced right.
As you all know this subject is wide and long. I can write a weekly blog on it and always have new information to share with you.
The bottom line on booking auditions consistently will always come from inside of you.
You have an innate ability to create the future you desire and no one can take that from you unless you allow them.
Don’t allow them and get out there.
I love seeing successful artists so if you need any help, please feel free to contact me.
John Henry Soto