Filmmaking is a billion-dollar industry that also carries a heavy social influence. It’s no wonder why thousands flock to Hollywood in hope of one day being featured on the silver screen.
Some may feel as though they will never have the opportunity to prove their skills to the right professionals to get into the major leagues, but with hundreds of movies being made every year, and so many roles to fill within each movie, that it is not uncommon for casting agencies to turn to state film companies and online casting platforms like Backstage for talent. In this article, you will learn the many ways you can find and prepare for movie auditions.
What Happens At Movie Auditions?
Movie auditions are a sample performance by an actor, singer, dancer, or other performers.
It typically involves the performer displaying their talent through a previously memorized and rehearsed solo piece, or by performing a work or piece given to the performer at the audition or shortly before.
In some cases, the individual may be asked to demonstrate a range of professional skills. Actors may be asked to present a monologue; a dancer will present a routine in a specific style, such as ballet, tap dance or hip-hop, or show his or her ability to quickly learn a choreographed dance piece.
Finding Movie Auditions
Casting notices are sent to agents and are posted on websites like Backstage. Websites like Backstage collect all the information and headshots from actors, making the audition process easier.
Every state also has its own film office, which will have all the information you need about what is being filmed in that state, including local auditions.
Also, consider looking into whatever big city you are closest to, you should start by looking up the local film office.
Many audition notices are posted online on sites like Playbill, Backstage, Actors Access, and Casting Networks. Some of these trade websites require a monthly fee to subscribe, and some of them even allow you to “audition” by submitting your materials online.
Student & Independent Films
If you’re diving into a film for the first time, you don’t have to aim for the major commercial films. A lot of people are not aware of it, but whatever city you are in there are plenty of independent and student films being created that you can contribute to. This is a great way to start out and see what it’s like being on a film set.
If you are a college student, you should check out your school’s film department. Many students will need to make films for their majors. They might not pay well (or at all), but it’s a great way to start learning about the realities of making a film and if it’s right for you.
Low-budget and independent films usually offer less competition, increasing your chances of landing a speaking role to add to your portfolio.
Working As An Extra
Extra — or background work — you will learn so much about the film, get a decent paycheck, and perhaps even be featured on film.
The part may be small, but how you look and act on the film set and get you bumped up into a featured or speaking role. If you want a speaking role, doing extra work is essential. Working as an extra will help you become comfortable on camera, get used to the terminology, and learn how a movie is made.
Extra work is easier to prepare for, making it less stressful for amateur actors. You may or may not need to audition for extra work. You can try searching online for local casting directors, and a list should come up with listings near your city.
Consider Getting An Agent
Working with an agent is a good way to land a role after you’ve gotten some experience.
If your agent gets you the audition that lands you in a role in the film, he or she receives ten percent of your pay. Casting directors often send talent agents descriptions of the type of actor they’re looking for, and agents notify the casting directors if they’re representing someone who would be a good fit.
How to Prepare
For most films, looks really are everything. You will need to try to assess which characters you could play on film.
Think of different character possibilities start looking for the most appropriate movie auditions. Memorize three or four monologues, try to pick from different genres, so you have a variety to choose from. Practice often and time your monologue and make sure it doesn’t exceed two minutes.
If it does, you may get cut off, while it may only be for time restrictions, it still feels discouraging.
Plan to tailor your performance to each of the movie auditions.
Try to memorize a new monologue and dress for the part, but don’t show up in full costume.
Headshots & Demo Reel
Along with memorizing monologues and honing special skills, actors need to have headshots and a demo reel. Headshots are designed to display your personality type and highlight physical features that make you unique.
When considering for a photographer, consider one that specializes in headshots and make sure to have a makeup artist.
A demo reel is a compilation of clips from other films and projects you have worked on in the past.
To put together an effective portfolio, carefully select scenes that display your skills and place them at the beginning of your reel, after your short introduction.
In your introduction simply state your name then let your reel dive straight into your best work. It shouldn’t exceed two minutes.
Filmmakers are busy people who have to work through hundreds of auditions; they’re not going to wait for the “big finale” at the end of your reel. Consider hiring a professional editor to polish up your demo reel.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Improve your chances by acting as much as possible and accept feedback from every single one of the movie auditions you go to. Whether your taking classes or stepping in front of a casting director, you’re practicing your craft.
Enhance various talents and skills. Being able to sing, dance, play a musical instrument or even play a sport can give you an edge that helps you stand out above the rest.
Becoming a member can give you access to higher paying and higher profile work. The Union also provides health insurance and ensures your work isn’t used illegally.
Most people do extra work for a few years before getting into the union. If you audition for a film as a non-union actor and are offered a union role right away, the production will grant you the opportunity to join the union.
Unfortunately, you can’t just join; you have to earn it. By doing extra work, sometimes you can earn waivers, which are given when the role is meant for a union member, but they cannot possibly find a union person to fulfill it. Once you earn three waivers (by working three days on set), you become eligible to join the union.
Check out art blogs, alternative newspapers, and other art publications to find out the latest opportunities in the film industry.
At the movie auditions, you should expect a lot of other people auditioning for the same role as you. Sometimes the writer or director may be present in the room.
Other times it will be interns from a local film office who will film a quick take and send it to LA for more consideration. No matter who is in the room, you should always remain professional and courteous at all times.
When showing up to an open casting call, have your information ready and fill out any casting sheets clearly and accurately. Most casting sheets include name, date of birth, address, email, agent information (if repped), and appearance characteristics.
Provide all the requested information to the casting director, some might ask for a resume and cover letter in addition to headshots and a demo reel.
Confidence on First Impression
Good posture and making eye contact when you walk in makes a confident first impression. You’ll be judged by your demeanor and presence, so take a deep breath and collect yourself.
Make sure to walk to the mark before you begin your audition. It’s usually placed several feet in front of the casting directors. It’s just a starting point, so don’t feel anchored to the mark. Use the space in a way that makes sense for that character and your skills.
A film audition will usually consist of you reading lines from the actual movie, say with another actor, who they are also considering for a role.
Performing Monologues and Special Skills
Sometimes you will get the script before the audition, other times they’ll give you a few pages on the spot, depending on how the filmmakers want to handle the audition process.
Before performing monologues and special skills, you state your slate. It’s the one-sentence introduction you provide before beginning your monologue. When you reach the mark, turn and make eye contact with the casting directors.
Then, give your name and a short description of what you’re about to perform.
Knowing how to behave at movie auditions for a movie is the first step to fulfilling the movie star dream.
Keep in mind that working your way through the film industry will take time, but with hard work, patience, and persistence it will pay off, and you’ll have fun doing it!