Auditioning can be a very nerve-wracking process. Being familiar with the audition process before an audition always helps to calm the nerves a bit, however. Likewise, being familiar with how to get auditions, the different audition terminology, the different types of auditions, and how to make your audition stand out are all necessary to get the roles you want. From key terminology such as slating to how to follow-up after an audition, auditioning is not just performing for a casting director for a few minutes; it's an art that needs to be perfected.
Getting an Audition & Preparation
There are several ways to get an audition. Some people hear about auditions through casting networks such as LA Casting and Central Casting. Others have agents or are represented by talent agencies, such as the William Morris Agency, that represent them and find them auditions. And still other people find fliers or bulletins in newspapers that tell them about auditions. No matter how you find an audition, the auditioning process really takes place in the weeks and days before you audition. Preparation for any audition is key. It is important to know what is expected of you in the audition and to come prepared. For musical auditions, usually picking out a few bars of a song and bringing along the piano sheet music for an accompanist is recommended. If auditioning for a play, having a monologue memorized is generally the necessity. However, knowing exactly what is expected of you and delivering it makes you look much more professional. Calling ahead, scouring the audition posting, and asking others who have been through the audition are all great ways of finding out exactly how to deliver the necessary elements of the audition. For extra preparation beforehand, there are even studios that offer recording services, making it possible for performers to watch and critique their auditions before the actual audition day.
Breathing exercises, vocal or dance warm-ups, or just visiting with other people are great ways to shake last-minute jitters. It doesn't hurt to go over your monologue or song in your head, step out the moves of the routine, or just practice full out one last time, too.
The audition is the easiest part of the process--really! If you have come prepared, then you know exactly what is expected of you, and you simply need to let your talent and personality shine through your prepared piece. Many times, having a head shot with a resume attached to the back is beneficial to leave with the organizing staff or, if they ask for it, the casting director. Interacting with the casting directors can be tricky. Just be polite and get to business. Generally, there are so many people auditioning for a part that small talk is more annoying and time consuming than truly memorable in a good way. If you are auditioning for parts in plays, movies, commercials or any related media, slating is a process that you must go through. Instead of walking up to the casting director or agent and introducing yourself, you will be asked to slate. Generally, you will be asked to slate your name and sometimes the part you are auditioning for. Look directly into the camera, if one is provided, when you slate. If there is no camera, look directly at where the audience would be sitting, if on stage, or, if in a room with only casting directors, look at the directors. Remember to slate strongly and with assurance, using a calm, even voice. Sometimes casting directors will leave you in a room with a recorder. In that case, remember to slate before you begin your audition materials. In some cases, it is not possible or probable to audition in person. In these cases, video recordings of your audition may be submitted to the casting directors. Services like Audition Tape, Inc., professionally tape audition materials for submission.
After the Audition
Make sure to thank all the people that made the audition possible, from the directors or casting agents to the runners. A great attitude makes you easier to remember. However, excessive niceness, following up or calling to "check on the status" on your audition does no good; there are often hundreds or even thousands of other people who auditioned for the same part you did. The best thing to do is sit tight and wait it out.
If you get a callback, make sure that you know all the materials you are expected to know. Generally, the directors or casting agents will give you specific materials to come prepared to perform. Get to know the other people at the callback; they could become your fellow cast mates, or they could give you more leads for future auditions. The callback is generally more laid back, and after a callback, it is appropriate to send the casting directors or casting agents thank you cards via mail or e-mail thanking them for their time and interest in your talent. At this point, the talent pool has been narrowed to a point that you stand out, so make sure you are memorable. Even if you don't get this part, they may recall you when casting in the future.
Get used to rejection when auditioning. Look at a rejection as another opportunity to audition, which is the best way to get parts. Be positive. Be upbeat.