It’s all well and good getting all your actor tools in order but a killer headshot and impressive showreel can only get you in the room. To actually get the part you now have to nail the audition!
The prospect can be daunting and thrilling all at once. Here at YAFTA we know exactly what that’s like; all our tutors are professional working actors and the actors on the books of the YAFTA Talent Agency are out auditioning for film and TV regularly.
That’s why audition preparation and practise is a big part of YAFTA training, through our weekly acting classes and industry masterclasses. We don’t just want to teach you to act but to prepare you for work in the industry and that of course means auditions, hopefully lots of them!
So whether you’ve got a big audition coming up or are still dreaming of getting that call, take a look at YAFTA’s top tips for auditions:
This goes top of the list for two reasons; not only is it very important but it’s the first thing to think of when you get that call. Not preparing for an audition puts you at a disadvantage. Many actors try to say they don’t need to prepare, that they work best improvising under pressure. We consider this a cop out. Preparation doesn’t mean stifling creativity. Just think how good could your audition could be if you bring both a wealth of thought and research to the role as well as your spontaneity.
This one should really go without saying and while we’re confident you’ll be charming in the audition room don’t underestimate the people you might meet outside it. It’s easy when you’re nervous and focussed to forget to smile or not notice someone holding a door. Try to be polite and pleasant to everyone you meet (especially on an audition day!). You never know; the receptionist might be a casting assistant in waiting, the lady you bowled over at the station in your haste might be the producer who is running late too! (True story!)
This is on every list and we know we’re probably preaching to the choir but it’s here for a reason. Punctuality is respected and appreciated. It gives directors the confidence that you are reliable and will be similarly punctual for the job itself. Just remember, punctuality is being on time; it’s not being super early. Aim to arrive in the vicinity of your audition with time to spare but avoid entering the building more than 10-15 minutes early. Any earlier and you could cause an inconvenience and be sat anxiously waiting for longer than necessary.
We know we can’t teach you exactly how to be positive but we can encourage you to go into the audition in a positive frame of mind. If you’re prepared, the audition should be an enjoyable experience. Remember it’s a chance to get to do what you love, even if it’s only for 5 or 10 minutes! Before you go in think about the preparation you’ve done and previous achievements. Try not to compare yourself with other actors in the waiting room. Afterwards, distract yourself from dissecting the audition but if you can’t, try to list the things that went well rather than the things you felt didn’t go so well.
Auditions aren’t like other job interviews; you have a little more leeway in terms of formality and dress code but you still need to look presentable and professional. Your clothes should be clean, ironed and in good repair. Avoid very short skirts and low cut tops and resist the temptation to dress in any kind of costume for the role. A hint of the character type, however, is advisable. This should be subtle; a suit for guys if it’s a business professional type role, a pencil skirt and blouse if you’re auditioning as an air hostess, that kind of thing.
Not to contradict with point #5 but much as you need to be presentable for an audition you also need to be comfortable. Wear something you feel confident in, that fits well and you enjoy wearing. If you’re thinking about the length of your skirt or fidgeting with your collar you’re not going to be focussed on your performance.
Smile and Make Eye Contact.
You need to make a connection with the people in the audition room and you simply can’t do this if you don’t make eye contact. They will want to know you can be open with the camera and being open towards them is the first hint. Even if you’re auditioning for a serious or villainous role, you can crack a smile before and after! We’re not talking Cheshire Cat here, just a natural smile that makes you appear approachable and pleasant to work with, it will also put people at ease. Much as a stern audition panel can put you on edge, a surly looking actor won’t endear themselves to the powers that be.
Do Your Research.
By this we don’t just mean research into the role, but also the people you are going to meet, the production and the company or companies creating the show. Find out what other productions those on the audition panel have created/directed/cast. You don’t have to wax lyrical about them but relevant knowledge could come up in conversation and shows you are invested and interested in working with the company. Don’t forget to research where the audition will be held too, and check for any roadworks/tube strikes/scheduled maintenance etc. You’ll be thankful when you’re not panicking on the day.
Auditions are stressful, there’s no question about that, and telling you to relax is pretty unhelpful so we’ll let you into a little secret: the people in that audition room want you to be right for the part. No really; if you’re right their job is done. They are rooting for you, not against you! Don’t be intimidated by an audition panel or let nerves stop you doing your best. Find a technique that helps you relax; whether it’s meditation, breathing exercises, looking at cat pictures on the internet…and go wow them!
Yes you’re there to show how well you can embody that character but in most cases, directors and casting directors will want to find out a bit about you too. Of course there are exceptions to the rule; some directors like to go straight into it so they see the character before anything else, and often with auditions in an accent different to your own it can be useful to maintain the accent throughout, but in addition to knowing you can act people will want to know you are someone they can work with. Inject your personality into the role and the conversation, just don’t do anything too crazy unless you’re asked for it!
We hope you can use these tips as you prepare for, and at, your next audition. If you’re in need of some practise why not check out one of our weekly classes or masterclasses where you can perform for top casting directors? You can find us all over Yorkshire and at www.yafta.co.uk.
Good luck and we’ll see you on screen!
This article was exclusively written in association with To Be Seen and first appeared on www.tobeseen.co.uk.