I recently received a random message on my FB page from a girl in India asking for help with auditions. She’d seen a similarly-named company on a video of a youtuber she follows. Even though she'd gotten the wrong "Peppered", I still thought maybe I could provide something of value in her acting pursuits.
Drawing on my own experiences both in casting & auditioning for roles, I sent her the following tips:
1. CAREFULLY READ THE CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS - don't waste time preparing, or the director's time if you clearly aren't a match. If you aren't sure, email them with the character you'd be interested in reading for. If they seem keen - go ahead!
2. BRING THE REQUESTED INFO - Generally a Headshot & Resume. If you don't have much experience, that's ok. If you only have a snapshot, that's ok, too. They just want something to reference as they're considering their options.
3. BE PREPARED! If you have access to the sides ahead of time, really take some time with them.
- Figure out the overall feel of the scene & how your character fits in. It's super easy to sound like a school child reading a passage in class. The more you can understand what's going on & connect emotionally to the scene, the more natural you will sound.
4. PLAY IT STRAIGHT! Comedy works best (usually) when you are not giving a wink at the audience. Your character is likely unaware what they're saying/doing is funny. Be sincere - UNLESS the movie has the tone of being super silly.
5. ACT, REACT, INTERACT - When you have a scene partner (or someone is reading another character's lines), really be listening & engaging with what the other person is saying/doing. A huge part of acting is actually reacting to other characters' words & actions, and interacting with them. It's not just about delivering your lines - it's about fitting into the scene & situation. If you're only anxiously awaiting your turn to talk, you're missing the actual 'acting' opportunity.
- For this one, I recommend having someone read with you. It'll get you comfortable delivering the lines, as well as connecting with the material in a more authentic way.
6. LISTEN TO THE DIRECTOR - If you're given notes, try to absorb and integrate them. Part of the audition is the director trying to find out how well you actually take direction. Can you listen & work with the suggestions they give you? Are you comfortable/flexible enough with material to go in a different direction. If you give the same exact performance after every suggestion, then you aren't actually successfully being directed. You probably won't be the best fit for the role.
7. TREAT EVERYONE WITH RESPECT - The director is the LAST person who will likely see you that day. There are assistants checking in auditioners, fellow actors, and often crew members. If you are disrespectful, or look down/try to psych out or otherwise look down on your fellow actors, crew, or staff - that feedback WILL get back to the decision maker.
8. REALIZE THAT EVERYONE IS NERVOUS - You're definitely not alone. If you stumble, stammer, or lose your place, take a breath & continue. Don't let yourself get flustered. Get through it & just aim to do your best. We ALL have moments where we get stuck - the key is to recover from it & move on.
9. THANK THE DIRECTOR FOR THE OPPORTUNITY - You can send a follow-up thank you note (short), but don't press for results. You should know going in how they're going to proceed (Will they email everyone their status? Only email their chosen actors? What is their timeframe for getting back to actors?). If it's beyond their promised feedback timeline, and there's been nothing posted or sent to you - you can politely ask if there's a status update. But, don't send emails until that time is up.
10. IF YOU'RE NOT SELECTED - Still thank the director/casting agent for the opportunity & that you look forward to future opportunities. There are COUNTLESS reasons you were not chosen & only a small part of if could be your actual audition.
11. TREAT EVERY AUDITION AS AN OPPORTUNITY - Regardless of the outcome, it is a great opportunity to perform! It's also an opportunity to practice and get feedback - this will help you grow! It's an opportunity to get your face in front of filmmakers - and, if you continue to audition for the same directors, you hopefully are showcasing improvement! It's also an opportunity to thicken your skin - acting is a LOT of rejection. You need to learn not to take it personally. Take the bits of feedback you can work on & really work to improve upon them.
Her response to my thoughtful offering?
A ‘THUMBS-DOWN” reaction & nothing more.
Hmm...maybe this is more ‘tin’ advice than gold? Was it too generic? Too obvious? Was she just ungrateful, or maybe assuming I'd throw her a role (half a world away)
I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts!