Casting Director Sonia Allam shares her advice on confidence, self-tapes, and making the best impression in your next audition.
At our latest Open House, our younger performers had the opportunity to work with Casting Director Sonia Allam (Plebs, Hetty Feather and The Spanish Princess) on auditioning. Participants, aged 14 to 18, had the opportunity to ask questions about the casting process and perform scenes for Sonia to critique. Here are the tips she shared…
Before your audition…
Do some research
Look up what the casting director has worked on before. Make a note of who you work with and meet, so if you meet a casting director who you’ve worked with in the past, you know that beforehand! Don’t be caught off-guard.
Don’t over-prepare your scene
Beware of over-rehearsing your scene. If you look at it too much, you might struggle to adapt if given direction in the room. Go with your first instinct, and don’t worry if you haven’t memorised your lines perfectly. An audition isn’t about knowing all the words, as Sonia says, “It’s about getting across whether or not you get the character.”
Go into the room with…
Believe it or not, casting directors can be just as nervous as you are. So, don’t be shy when you enter the audition room. ‘Come in with confidence,’ says Sonia.
Be proud and eager to show the casting director what you can do, especially if you have a skill they’re looking for. Can you do an American accent? Yes, you can! Don’t mumble a half-hearted reply; be proud of your skills and what you can bring to the performance.
Never walk into an audition with an excuse.
If you’re running late and have called ahead to let someone know, this information will be passed on to the casting director. So, don’t panic when you finally arrive. Calm yourself down, have a quick drink, and go into the audition composed.
Likewise, if you’ve got a terrible cold, you don’t need to tell the casting director. They’ll be able to tell.
The casting director may ask you questions before your audition. If they ask, ‘What’ve you been up to?’ try not to answer with ‘not much’, ‘nothing’ or another one-word response.
‘What’ve you been up to?’ can either mean ‘How are you?’ or ‘What was the last thing you worked on?’ If you’re not sure which it is, feel free to ask if they mean work wise or regularly. Then tell them where you’ve come from, or what you’ve been doing that week, or what you’ve been in before.
Be mindful of…
Try to keep your hair from falling into your face and hiding it. Tuck it behind your ears before you start your audition or bring a hairband with you to tie it back.
In an audition, you’re performing to the camera, not an audience, so you don’t need to shout or project your voice like you would on stage.
Likely, you will be sat on a chair, so try not to fidget, or slouch. Be mindful of where the camera is pointing – be aware of how you’re moving in light of where the camera is. Try not to look at the casting director if the piece is directed to another actor. Maintain your focus to the audience – it might be the camera itself, or another performer, or someone off-screen.
Don’t stay seated if it’s impacting your energy in the room. Sonia says, “Don’t be afraid of asking ‘can I stand up?’ if you’re going to do your scene better.”
Be wary of when you need to be lighter and where you need to be serious.
If your scene contains a long monologue, don’t rush it. You’re in the audition room, performing in front of a casting director, with a camera – this is your moment to shine! Take your time and enjoy it but watch your diction when reciting long or wordy sentences.
Also, don’t feel like you have to be overly animated, or that there’s a ‘right’ way to read your lines. It’s best to have your own interpretation and go with what you feel is right.
Just go and be out of the box. You don’t have to say it the same way as everyone else.
Self-tapes should be the one thing you’ve got right, because you’ve got all the time to do it.
Sometimes you may need to send in a self-tape for an audition. Before filming this, ensure you find a background with a solid colour, like blue or grey.
Once filming has begun, you don’t have to move around. The casting director wants to see you auditioning, not acting like you’re on set. Deliver your self-tape and watch it back – check your work before you send!
Thank you Sonia for an informative session for our young performers! Information about Spotlight’s other Open House workshops and panels can be found here.