Auditioning is essential to get work in the entertainment industry. There is no escaping from it.
When you master it, it sets you up for success.
An acting audition is an opportunity for you, as an actor, to express the whole range of your talents to the casting director and ultimately to the director. It is also a process that helps the casting director choose actors for the respective roles in a time-efficient manner.
Here, we present 5 basic concepts that you can learn before and during the process of auditioning so that you maximize success.
Make the Camera Your Friend
For the convenience of the casting directors, auditions are recorded with a camera. However, new actors find it awkward when auditioning in front of an inanimate object like a camera. How do you act in a way that you’re talking to a human instead of an object?
You need to make the camera your friend.
To get used to this process, you can do a simple exercise.
Place your mobile camera in front of you. Start talking to it as if it is one of your friends or family members. Talk to the camera on general topics from life. Talk to it about what you did on the weekend or give a review of the movie you recently watched. Or talk to it about your recent trip to the dentist.
Gradually, you will get more comfortable in front of the camera.
Decode the Character Thoroughly
Every character is unique. How do you identify the best way to portray a character in an audition scene?
There are 4 steps you can follow:
- Identify the time and location of the scene: For example, if you are playing a senior editor at a news channel, and the scene is to take place in the busiest part of the day in an office, you would portray the scene with great energy. Then, switch it up. Imagine the scene as if it is in a library at night. The quietness of the location and the sleepiness of the time will require you to change the scene’s vibe.
- Understand the character’s personality, physicality, and profession: Memorize the name, age, profession, and costume of the character. If playing a senior editor, you would most likely be middle-aged (40-50 years), dressed formally at the office, and have authority over junior writers in your company.
- Understand the character’s desires: Sometimes, the intention of a character is hidden under his external behaviour. How do you remind yourself of his hidden desires? You can refer to the script and identify 2-3 intentions the character has. For example, your senior editor character may want to teach his junior writer a strategy of publishing sensationalist articles. You need to understand that before the scene.
- Understand the character’s mood: Each character could have several moods in a scene. But you can identify the dominant mood based on the context. If the senior editor has no moral compass, he would be happy with journalistic practices of sensationalism.
These steps will help you capture the essence of the character. Qualitative aspects like tone, body language, and emotion are brought out in this way, helping you layer the character for the casting director.
Preparing The Scene Well
Remembering lines by themselves can be easy. But if you put yourself into the action of a scene, you can forget your lines while performing and emotioning in the scene. You need to strengthen the mind-body connection to overcome this. There are several physical methods you can use:
- Bouncing Balls: The method is simple. Bounce a ball in your hands while saying your lines. Increase it to 5 reps in order to ensure your mind is in sync with your body. It is akin to the muscle memory while riding a bicycle
- Neutral Reading: Acting auditions can benefit greatly from “neutral reading.” Actors use it to learn their lines quickly. Basically, you need to read the lines with a flat tone. The flat tone allows you to remove all the emotions from the words. This helps you analyze the flow of dialogue and retain necessary information.
- Speech Speed Run: You can also practise altering the speed of your speech. Use the scene you’ve prepared for the acting audition and deliver its lines in the slowest possible manner. This, you will find easy. Now, to increase the difficulty of the task, double the speed of the delivery. This will help you memorize the lines at a deeper level.
Know Basic Technicalities of the Audition
- Intro Video: Create an intro video with your basic info—name, age, height, and place of residence. This video should also include your relevant professional experience. You can also add some more interesting info to this introduction, such as your hobbies and other skills you have as an actor. But you need to make it short and crisp. Show your face from different angles. Start from the front angle with a smile. Then, show your right profile. Then, show your left profile. This is done for the convenience of the casting director so that they can have an idea of your personality as an actor.
- Self-test: If you are giving a self-test at home then follow some basic rules to make yourself presentable. Dress in solid colours, use a clean background, find good lighting for the face, position the camera at eye-level in landscape orientation, shoot in a mid-shot frame that stops at the waist, and you will be good to go!
Calm Your Nerves
When you move into the auditioning room itself, it is important to have a reasonable perspective of the outcome. 90% of the people who audition for a role are rejected. This doesn’t mean they’re all bad actors. It means their performance didn’t match the director’s vision compared to the performance of the one actor who did. Adopting this practical outlook helps you adapt to the situation.
To calm your nerves further, you can do 2 body and vocal warmups each:
- Deep and Slow Breathing. Inhale through your nose. Exhale through your mouth. Repeat the cycle in a deep and slow manner, until you feel relaxed.
- Work Your Neck. Roll your neck around clockwise, anticlockwise, side to side, and backward. Keep alternating the motions so that you stretch all the muscles in the neck.
- Tongue Twisters. Pick any tough tongue twister—for example “red lorry, yellow lorry”— and practise it at varying speeds. This exercise gets your mouth loosened up.
- The “Hum and Tarzan”: Hum while thumping your chest like Tarzan, until you have exhaled all of your air. Repeat until you feel your voice is relaxed.
Remember to show as much of your dramatic range as you can during the audition. Once you learn these 5 guidelines, you will begin to get better at giving better auditions. Acknowledge that acceptance or rejection in an audition isn’t in your hands. Just try to give your best at each opportunity.
If you really want to be better at giving auditions and want to enhance your acting career then you could check out Ekalavya’s online acting course, Art of Audition. It covers all the aspects mentioned in this post, helping the ones who might be accustomed to the process.
India’s best online acting and theatre training platform, an initiative of Drama School Mumbai (DSM). DSM is one of the best acting and theatre schools in India. At Ekalavya, all the courses are designed and delivered by highly trained DSM faculty and industry professionals. Currently available courses are Breaking Open Characters, Mastering Monologues, Expressive Voice and Speech, Art of Auditioning and Expressive Body.