There are many ways in which a production is cast and there are often several stages to the casting process. If the casting director knows you and has seen your work, there may just be a meeting in a coffee shop. Each casting can be approached differently according to the people involved.
It can be quite a lengthy process and you can spend time waiting to hear back. You will need to be patient and calling your agent daily will not speed up the process. Depending on the production you may not hear back for weeks, sometimes months and sometimes you won’t hear back at all. Don’t be disheartened by this. Casting Directors are busy people working to deadlines and don’t always have the time to give feedback or let you know if you haven’t got a recall. Sometimes you will be told straight away if they want to see you again.
Now, it’s worth explaining the difference between supporting artists (SAs) and cast roles. SAs are there to fill the background of a scene and are cast from photographs, Profiles and CVs. Any character mentioned in a script is a cast role. These roles are sourced and auditioned by Casting Directors.
Read on to find out about the possible stages of the audition process.
The First Steps:
When a casting query comes in, the Agent’s first job is to send across options that fit the brief. The brief is our guide to what the Casting Directors and 2nd ADs are looking for. It outlines what they need for specific roles – this can be as simple as age or ethnicity, or more complex requirements like the ability to ride a horse, have a specific accent or can pass as a younger version of an existing cast actor.
This is where your profile and headshots play a very important part in getting you seen by the Casting Director. The initial stage is all about your look, so your headshot needs to be recent and clear. It’s also really important that you let your Agent know of any special skills or talents you have. If you can do accents really well, ride a bike or even blow massive bubblegum bubbles, tell your agent. It might not seem that impressive to you, but it could be just the skill that the Casting Directors are looking for.
Self-Tape auditions are very popular and can speed up the overall audition process. This is always essential when casting children as licensing can take up to 21 days to process (we’ll be talking about that in another blog so keep an eye out for that).
Self-taping is, as the name suggests, where you record yourself acting out the scenes the Casting Directors have sent. It is a way for them to see how you look on camera and how you portray the role.
A few tips for Self-Taping:
- Always have someone to hold the camera or phone; this is very much a 2-man job.
- As with taking headshots, the room needs to be quiet so turn off the TV or radio.
- Have a plain background with no pictures or busy wallpapers.
- Have a steady camera or phone. There is nothing more off-putting than a camera that wobbles around. It may even be worth investing in a tripod.
- Memorise the lines – The scenes are usually short so there won’t be much to learn.
- Have someone read the other lines of the script, ideally someone of the right gender but make sure they’re not too loud on the recording as it can distract from you – the main focus of the audition piece.
- Always start by saying your name and age to make identifying you easier for the Directors – remember, they are probably looking at several people for the same role.
- Act natural – avoid the big movements that a stage production requires. Film is much more subtle
- Above all, make sure you can be heard clearly. You don’t need to shout but make sure the camera or phone is close enough to pick up your speech clearly.
The best way to send your Self-Tape is through a file sharing site like WeTransfer, SendIt or even through WhatsApp as the files are often too big to attach to an email.
Casting Workshops are group auditions and can include several people for the same role or from a number of roles. If you think about films that have a group of best friends on an adventure, or playing together at school, or siblings in the lead roles, it can sometimes be easier to cast them together through Casting Workshops. It allows the director to see how individuals interact with each other, if they look similar enough to pass as siblings and helps to whittle down the options of a role.
There are 2 types of auditions – Open and Closed.
Open Auditions are literally a turn up and wait to be seen form of auditioning. It can be an incredible long day, especially if it’s for a popular programme (we’ve all seen the queues for ‘X Factor’ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’). There is no guarantee that you will get seen at all so turning up early is essential. You’ll also need to be at your very best to stand out from all the other artists.
Closed Auditions are by appointment only and are usually for individuals rather than groups. These are the ones that your Agent will invite you to. For these, you will be sent specific scenes you will need to learn and the Directors will also film the audition. There are often Producers and Executives of the Production Companies who have an input in casting lead roles. This is very common for American backed productions. It can also make for a lengthy casting period and include several Recalls.
If you are invited to an audition, it is important to allow plenty of time to get there and make sure you are early. Never be late to an Audition as this can upset a whole auditioning day and will not put you in a positive light.
Be positive – no one wants to cast a gloomy actor!
As the name suggest, a Recall is the next stage in the audition process. You’ve gotten through the Casting Workshop or Audition and the Directors want to see you again. The Recall is often more involved, with new or different scenes to learn and may also involve the Director of the project or even another cast member.
With each Recall, there are usually fewer Artists called back in each round, until there are only 2 or 3 people left and a final decision is made.
The Audition process can be competitive as there is only one role that a lot of people are going for. To get to any one of these stages is a fantastic achievement and you should be proud of that. There will be many occasions when you will not get that Audition or Recall but then, there may come a time when you are exactly what the directors are looking for and you’ll be cast.