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Backstage Experts

21 Things That Make Casting Directors Happy in the Audition Room

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21 Things That Make Casting Directors Happy in the Audition Room

Casting directors are your advocates and your champions. Your work reflects on us. Your wonderful work makes us look good and gets that role cast. Your disconnected, tentative, muddled work does nothing for anyone. We need you to be great. We’re here to host your experience and shepherd you in, not hold you back. We want to share in your excellent work.

Casting directors await you on the other side of that door – the door that you can seen as a gateway or a barricade. While you turn it into a horror movie, it’s your stage, not a torture chamber. Whether it’s a pre-read for an associate or a full-blown director/producer callback session, this is your time, your experience. This is your opportunity to do exceptional work. Enter the space and do the work for yourself, for the gratification of the work itself, and yes, to collaborate with the other creative people waiting to figure it out with you. They can’t do it without you.

Here are some choices (and they are choices) to make any casting director truly happy in the room.

1. Accept the invitation with grace and enthusiasm. You were requested to be here as our guest.

2. Come to work and not to please or get our approval.

3. Enter with certainty. Don’t give up your power as soon as the door opens.

4. Play on a level playing field. We’re all figuring it out. Together.

5. Make no excuses whatsoever. Leave your baggage outside. Better yet, at home.

6. Make the room your own. It will make us so much more comfortable.

7. Ask questions only when you truly need answers. “Do you have any questions?” is usually another way of saying: “Are you ready?” You aren’t required to have one.

8. Know your words and understand what you’re talking about. You don’t have to be totally off-book, but if you’ve spent quality time with the material, you’re going to know it.

9. Do your homework on the project. This includes knowing all the players and the show or film’s tone and style. Read all the material you can get your hands on.

10. Make choices and take responsibility for the choices you make.

11. Don’t apologize. Ever. For anything.

12. Know what you want to do and do it. Then leave yourself available to make discoveries. Know that your homework is done. Now let your preparation meet the moments.

13. Don’t mime or busy yourself with props, activity, or blocking. Keep it simple.

14. Don’t expect to be directed, but if you are, take the direction, no matter what it is. Understand how to translate results-oriented direction into action.

15. Don’t blame the reader. Make the reader the star of your audition. According to my teaching partner Steve Braun, you should engage fully no matter who’s reading those lines. Likely your reader will engage – at least somewhat – if you show up.

16. Make specific, personal, bold choices. We want your unique voice to bring the script to life.

17. Stillness is powerful. Understand how to move and work in front of the camera – eliminate running in and out and getting up and down.

18. Require no stroking, coddling, or love. We’re there to work. Don’t take it personally when we’re not touchy-feely. Know that we love actors and that’s truly why we’re here.

19. Understand that you’re there to collaborate. You’re being evaluated in terms of how you serve the role and the material. It's not a verdict on your personhood. Judgment is something you can control.

20. What you bring in reflects how you’re received so bring in joy, conviction, and ease, and our hearts will open.

21. Share your artistry above all else.

Remember that we’re all human in those rooms, and you can affect us on an emotional level. It’s what we all really want. That’s your job. You being fully present, truthful, personal, and vulnerable is going to give us the ammunition we need to champion you with all our hearts. We all desperately want you to do great work. We’re rooting for that every time you walk into the room. You show up and do your fullest, deepest work, and we’ll slay dragons for you and follow you anywhere. And man, we’ll be so happy doing it. You have the power to make that happen. For you. For us. For the work. Hallelujah!

Risa Bramon Garcia runs a Studio for Actors in L.A. with partner, Steve Braun, The BGB Studio - Bramon Garcia Braun (link), dedicated to actors’ whole journey, connecting craft with career. New summer classes and workshops are starting in June. http://bramongarciabraun.com/

For the past 30 years Risa has worked consistently as a director, producer, casting director, writer, and teacher, collaborating with some of the most groundbreaking artists in the world. Having directed two feature films the cult classic, "200 cigarettes," and "The Con Artist" in Canada - Risa’s also directed for television, including multiple episodes of "The Twilight Zone" for New Line/UPN, and shows for HBO, Lifetime, and Comedy Central. She’s directed dozens of plays in New York (The Ensemble Studio Theatre, Second Stage, Manhattan Theatre Club) and in Los Angeles. Risa’s casting resumé includes more than 65 feature films, classics such as "Something Wild," "At Close Range," "Angel Heart," "Fatal Attraction," "Wall Street," "Talk Radio," "Jacob’s Ladder," "Born on the Fourth of July," "JFK," "The Doors," "Sneakers," "The Joy Luck Club," "True Romance," "Speed," "How To Make An American Quilt," "Dead Presidents," "Twister," "Benny and Joon," and "Flirting With Disaster;" and numerous television shows, including "Roseanne," "CSI:NY," "The Cape," and most recently "A Gifted Man" for CBS and the pilot "Rewind" for Syfy. She’s currently casting the new Showtime series, "Masters of Sex." Risa served as a producer on Oliver Stone’s films "Heaven and Earth" and "Natural Born Killers," which she also cast.

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