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Getting Work

10 tips to help you nail your audition on Zoom.

It might feel strange auditioning from home, but the more confident you are in your tech setup and the more prepared you are with the material, the more enjoyable the experience will be.

Whether you love them or hate them, Zoom auditions may well be here to stay. But how do you prep your audition material, manage your tech set up and deliver a high-quality performance?

Here are some top tips for a successful zoom audition:

1. Prepare your material

Prep like you would for an in-person audition: read your sides, rehearse the material and research the project. Don’t let the remote aspect distract you from the reason why you’re there: to act.

2. Basic housekeeping

Tick off this checklist to avoid unnecessary tech stress:

  • Decide which device you will use. Laptops work really well, but if you’re going to use a phone or tablet make sure it’s in landscape mode.
  • Check your internet connection. If you’re concerned about the reliability of your connection, use an ethernet cable to connect your laptop directly into your router to give you a better signal.
  • Install the latest version of the software. Download and connect through the Zoom app rather than a browser for a smoother user experience.
  • Familiarise yourself with the controls. Remove virtual backdrops or other gimmicks. You want the focus to be on your performance, not an image of Hogwarts or a hammock on the beach.
  • Test your microphone. Your device’s mic should be fine but you can use an external microphone if you prefer.
  • Clean your camera. It’s an audition – you need to be seen clearly.
  • Charge your device before the audition. Make sure your device is fully charged so you don’t have to run off to find a charger halfway through your audition.

3. Create a professional backdrop

The casting team knows that you’re auditioning from home, so don’t stress about giving your front room a studio makeover. Just make sure that the space where you’re auditioning is free from clutter. Use a plain backdrop or a blank wall as your background. You can adapt the backdrop you use for self-tapes for remote auditions too.

4. Let there be light

Set up your space where there is plenty of natural light, with you facing towards it so you can be seen clearly and aren’t in silhouette. Read more lighting tips.

5. Know your eye line

For the initial chat, talk directly into the camera so that the people can ‘meet’ you easily. It’s still a face-to-face situation after all!

For your performance, you can use the camera as the eye line or look just slightly off centre from the lens. If it helps, stick a piece of tape on the side of the lens for something to focus on.

  • If you’re ever unsure of where to place your eye line, just ask during the audition.
  • If you have a reader in your audition, it helps to minimise the browser or app window and place it in the area of your eye line.
  • If you’re reading a scene with multiple readers or other actors then Zoom’s ‘gallery view’ might work better.
  • You can ‘hide’ yourself from view to concentrate on your performance. It can also help you avoid feeling self-conscious if you can’t see yourself onscreen.

6. Experiment with flexible setups

You might be asked to perform your scenes standing up or sitting down, so be sure you know how to adjust your setup for close-ups and wider shots.

  • Look at the room you are in: how easily can you move from sitting to standing and moving back to provide a wider shot?
  • Do you know how to change the height of your device between close-ups and a wider shot? Some actors do this by placing their device on a desk, shelf or even on a pile of books. Instead of building a makeshift platform out of household objects, consider investing in a laptop stand or a tripod for your phone. This way you can smoothly change the height and angle of your device.
  • With every adjustment you make, always check you’re still within shot and that your eye line is in line with the height of the lens.
  • Test how easy it is to transition from one setup to another so that you don’t get flustered during the audition.
  • Keep your set up simple and create a system that works for you in the space you’re in.

7. Practise your tech setup

Just like you’d run lines with a pal, run your tech set up with someone too. This way you can check how well you are lit and if there are any dodgy camera angles to avoid. You can do this by yourself but it’s always useful to get input from a trusted friend or colleague.

8. Play around with proxemics

See how you can create different types of atmosphere just by working with the lens. For example, leaning closer to the lens creates intimacy, but it can also create a sense of intimidation too. Experiment with what works best for your character.

9. Bring your scene to life

Physically embodying the energy of the character will help you create tension and atmosphere. If you can create this for yourself, even when you’re the only one in the room, it will translate well on Zoom.

For a high energy character, try jumping up and down for 30 seconds beforehand to get the energy flowing. If your character is cool and collected, do simple breathing exercises to create stillness in your body.

10. Enjoy It

It might feel strange auditioning from home, but the more confident you are in your tech setup and the more prepared you are with the material, the more enjoyable the experience will be.

Naomi Joseph is an actor, theatre-maker and writerNaomi’s work includes ‘Criteria’, an award-winning spoken word short about cultural identity and bereavement. ‘Criteria’ is available to watch now on VimeoIts companion piece ‘Motherland’ is a dark comedy theatre show which played at various festivals across the UK.

Headshot photographer: Robert Boulton

Main image by Dylan Ferreira via Unsplash.