Be so good they can’t ignore you.

Steve Martin

I recently had an opportunity to operate a camera for a television show audition. It was an eye opening experience to work on the other side of the lens. Highly recommend if you get the opportunity. Things I learned:

Show up on time. If you’re late for an audition, the casting director is already skeptical you’ll show up to set on time. Traffic is not an excuse. And don’t show up late, then ask for two minutes to review your lines and then shuffle papers while trying to find the correct scene in the room.

Listen and respond. Casting director Chris Game says the best audition scenes are the ones where you’re listening. Rob Adler often says reacting in the scene gives the editor so much to play with in post. I saw a lot of actors waiting to deliver their next line instead of being in the scene.

Move if it’s motivated. Standing up and sitting down can derail the scene, especially if the movement is for the sake of moving vs. moving with intention. I also saw shifting and twisting, which can show up as nerves instead of motivated action.

Don’t call cut on yourself. In Rob Adler‘s on camera scene study class, he often says to keep acting through “cut.” Some of the best moments happen at the end of scenes. I didn’t cut right at the end of the last line of the scene. I gave it a second to breathe. I could see when actors were still in the scene and those that were already out.

Elevate the writing. Some scripts suck. You have an opportunity to shine if you can elevate the writing.

Consistency of character. The audition involved three short scenes. The first two were related. The third scene was a time jump. In some of the auditions, I saw the same character in the first two scenes and a completely different character in the third scene. Show a fully formed character using different motivations in each scene.

Do the work. Be so good they can’t ignore you. Some actors weren’t off book and it prevented them from being present in the scene. Two thoughts. First, many of us just want an opportunity to audition, and when we get it, we have the opportunity to blow the room away. So do it. Blow the room away. Know your lines. Be present. Listen and respond. Live moment to moment. Second, casting directors really do want you to succeed. Provide a solution to their problem. Most casting directors want to avoid adding another casting day because they haven’t found the right person. It’s a time suck and stressor for them.

Be so good they can’t ignore you.