Rules of Auditioning: Less is More

The most important advice I can give to an actor, when auditioning, is ‘less is more’. What I mean by this is that auditioning is a specific style of acting ie. stage acting, film acting, tv acting and….auditioning.  Most auditions take place in small rooms, sometimes very small rooms. It is important to understand that an intimate space requires an intimate acting-style (and thanks to Cast It, producers and directors are now watching your performance on their computers, the perfect platform for a subtle performance!).

Here is how I break it down:

Rule #1 Do not turn a day player role into an opportunity to perform Shakespeare. Day player roles are not only my favorite roles to cast, but in my opinion,  they are the most important roles in a film. Over-acting day players can ruin a scene, in fact, they can ruin a film! If you are coming in for a ‘small’ role, come in to the room, keep the reading subtle and authentic just show me that you understand who the character is.

Rule #2 also applies to reading for any role including the lead role; come in, show me who the character is, keep it simple. Sometimes a CD will say ‘throw it away’ or even ‘don’t act!’. If you make this adjustment successfully, it may result in getting the job!

 Rule #3 Trust that Casting Directors can see beyond the obvious. For example, if the role is written for a ’25 year old blonde’ and you do not fit that description, then don’t overcompensate by being BIG ie overacting. Trust that the CD will see that you are talented and that you have range. If you’re not feeling well and you decide to come to the audition, trust that the CD will know that you are right for the role but are just having an off-day. It happens (but please do not come in with a fever and get us all sick! ).  I can’t speak for all CDs, but even if a CD does not have an imagination, act as if they do!

Rule # 4 No props: Keep your props in your bag, in fact, keep them at home. Casting Directors do not need you to pull out twelve props, as this just creates awkward delays. It is also disruptive to take an extra long time to pack up your belongings after an audition.

Rule #5 Don’t yell; yelling in a small room can ruin a Casting Director’s day and your chances of getting cast (imagine 50 people screaming the same line at you all day long in a small room). Most importantly, there is never a need to yell. Again, you are not doing a performance. If you are coming in for a role which requires intensity, quiet intensity is always the better choice. Also, you will stand out to the Casting Director as someone who made a bold choice to not yell.

Rule #6 Never (ever) touch a Casting Director. There is never a need to hit, choke or kiss a CD. Trust me, all three have happened to me. I also know a story about a casting colleague of mine who was wrestled to the floor by an actor trying to prove his intensity in an audition. I don’t think I need to explain why this is wrong.

In short, trust that the Casting Director knows what they are doing and more importantly, trust yourself!

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Joanna Colbert began her career as a casting director in association with Juliet Taylor on Interview with a Vampire for which she conducted a nationwide search resulting in the discovery of Kirsten Dunst. Colbert then went on to work at Universal Pictures as the Manager of Casting and then Senior Vice President of Casting, overseeing such blockbusters as The Mummy series, American Pie, Meet the Parents, and Bruce Almighty. She formed Joanna Colbert Casting in 2001 and Colbert/Mento Casting in 2006. Her credits include: No Strings Attached, the Step-Up series, Cedar Rapids, The Mummy, Everything Must Go, Hollywoodland and The Good Girl. Colbert is currently producing several projects, including a documentary about casting and its influence on film titled Casting By, a feature film titled Atticus Run, The Black Version tv series and Kate McClafferty’s blog, 356 til 30.

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