by Penny Abshire
Senior Producer—The Commercial Clinic
I often get these kinds of questions:
"After I audition, should I ask how I did?"
"If I'm nervous, should I tell the casting director that I'm really new before I audition?"
"Should I call them later to see if I got the part?"
While there are lots of variables where auditions are concerned, the answer to these questions is always, always, NO!
"How did I do - what do you think my chances are?" Keep in mind that the people conducting an audition are often there just to record your voice and write down your name. They are not there to tell you how you did or even to give you any direction (although sometimes the nicer ones do).That's why auditions very often feel like "cattle calls". It seems cold, but you are just a number. To ask them what your chances are or for their opinion on your performance will do nothing more than irritate them - and most people remember irritation in quite a negative way. It's better to be remembered for being professional, don't you think?
"Gosh, I'm so nervous - it's my first audition!" If, in an attempt to make an excuse for nervousness, you say something like this to a casting director, you've just planted a seed in his or her mind that you don't know what you're doing.
"Hi, I'm just calling to see if you've cast the voice over part I auditioned for." One of the first things you learn in show business is that unwritten rule of, "Don't call us, we'll call you". You'll be the first to know if you've been cast for a role. If you don't hear from them, it means you weren't cast. While it's difficult (and sometimes really painful) to wait, you'll be better off in the long run. Nothing will scream amateur louder than an actor who appears needy.
There are two things you must have when you go into an audition: Confidence and preparation. Confidence comes with proper training and rehearsal. In a perfect world, you would always have the script ahead of time, and you'd have a least a few hours to look it over and rehearse it. But since this isn't a perfect world, your wood-shedding skills become invaluable. To have real confidence, you've got to be able to look at the script and within 3-5 minutes know exactly what you want to do with it. This kind of ability only comes with lots of time and lots of practice.
So, if you're new and are still working on your skills, does that mean you shouldn't audition if you are asked? Not at all! I tell my students never to pass up the opportunity to audition because it's a wonderful learning experience - even if you don't get the part, there will be a lesson learned. Just be professional - even a beginner can do that.
Here are some things to remember when auditioning:
Have the proper tools: Make up an audition/session kit. It should include your script (if you have one) a bottle of water, a pencil, a cork, reading glasses (if you need them), throat spray and your business card. I also include a green apple - it's great to help with dry mouth. Also, remember to hydrate yourself properly before the audition. That means drinking plenty of water for several hours BEFORE the audition if you can. Just drinking one bottle on the way there is good, but it takes some time for your body to fully hydrate. And stay away from anything containing caffeine - it will quickly dehydrate you.
Prepare mentally: The best way to learn to do this is to listen to Jim's audio version of "Own the Session". It's a visualization exercise on the CD included with the second edition of his book, The Art of Voice Acting.Remember, you are an actor! Sometimes acting like you're full of confidence is all it takes to have it for real!
Introduce yourself properly: "Hi, I'm __________________. It's very nice to meet you". Then you can ask any questions you might have. Remember - they are almost always operating under a time crunch - so no unnecessary chit-chat is appreciated. Knowing how to introduce yourself and project confidence is critical - not only for a good, solid first impression, but for your state of mind going into the audition.
Make a gracious exit: Audition, say your "thank you's" and then leave unless you are asked to stay. Don't hang around to schmooze - it's not the right time or place.
Let it go: Once you have auditioned, let it go. As actors, we have a tendency to second guess ourselves - a lot. If you find your "voices" saying these kinds of things after an audition - "Shoot!I wish I'd punched that phrase liked I'd planned to," or, "I can't believe I blew that line!" - you are going to drive yourself crazy! That old saying about not crying over spilled milk truly applies here. It's done. Just learn from the experience and move on.
One Final Word:An audition is exactly what you make it. It can either be a wonderful learning experience from which you will gain insights and knowledge. . . or it can be something you dread and that stresses you out completely. It's really up to you. But remember, auditions are an intricate part of the performing world. Don't you agree it would be best to make them your "friend"?
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