The audition waiting room is full of actors. Dressed just like you. The same sides clutched in their hands, covered in notes. Your name is called. You are introduced to the decision makers in the room. Their names are immediately forgotten.
Because the only thing in your mind is the audition and the delivery of your character. In a trance, you hear “Ok, let’s try one.”
I suggest you now ignore all your prep. Everything you need to know, everything you need to do in this audition, is summed up by asking: What are the important qualities you are looking for in this character?
Drama teachers give you the skills to dissect a scene and make decisions on a character, but it is the casting director who can tell you what the director, the studio, and/or the network are searching for.
In all my years of casting, we have never cast someone because they delivered the lines in the right way, or because they were more dramatic, or showed deeper emotion. We cast them because they embodied the character. They captured the essential elements we need on screen.
An actor who delivers the qualities of the character—the qualities we are searching for—will always make the short list. These qualities may or may not be evident in the character breakdown, or even the sides.
By asking this question, at this exact moment, the last words in your mind before you start your audition are the adjectives—the words that describe exactly what you should deliver.
So you are hoping we say something like “We need to love her. We need to care for her. She is the heart of the project.” From this you are able to extract the qualities warm, vulnerable, and loved. Repeat them to yourself.
If we say something like, or you hear something like, “we simply want to see your version of the character,” in as few words as possible, sum up the three qualities you have prepared for your version of the character.
“I think he she is genuinely warm, but she has a real vulnerability despite her working class heritage.” And now, repeat those words out loud.
You are self-coaching. You are giving yourself a pep talk. You are prepping your audition. More importantly, you are coaching the people in the room—the decision makers. We now connect your version of the character to those adjectives—not only while we watch your audition, but again at the end of the day when we view and discuss everyone we saw.
Three words. Three adjectives. Say them. By doing so you inform not only your creative subconscious (at the most crucial moment of your audition), but also the key production people in the room.
Greg Apps is one of Australia’s most respected casting directors. In a career covering 30 years, he cast over 65 feature films including “Mission Impossible 2,” “Queen of the Damned,” “Knowing” and James Cameron’s “Sanctum.” In Australia, he cast the career breakout roles for Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Eric Bana, Sam Worthington and Hugo Weaving. His latest film, “Felony,” with Joel Edgerton and Tom Wilkinson opens in 2014.
He recently created The Audition Technique, which allows actors to peek inside the closed doors of the casting process, and is the culmination of Apps’ career spanning acting, producing, and casting. By embracing these techniques and concepts, you will change your audition methodology and you will book more work. You can see what a casting director sees, what they think, how they view screen tests—how they judge your work. It allows you to sit in a casting directors chair.
You’ll see auditions not as a test of your ability, but as an actor friendly creative environment empowering you to experiment, explore, and excite.