As a casting director, I’ve worked on many films with a variety of different directors and producers of varying skill levels from across the globe. From my experience, I can tell you that the casting process for films is in the subtleties.
As you prepare to audition for a film, the first place to start is knowing what kind of genre it is. Is the movie a comedy, drama, horror, action, psychological thriller, or musical? Then you break it down even more. For example, if it’s a comedy, what kind of comedy is it? It could be a broad comedy like “Airplane,” a comedy played in a subtle way like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” a dark comedy like “Fargo,” or a coming of age comedy like “Booksmart.” This knowledge will help you as you continue to prepare.
When we send out a description of the characters, we give the actors a brief glimpse of the qualities that we’re looking for in that character. Then it’s up to each actor and their creative imagination to make choices about the role. If you can get a copy of the script, that will help you understand the character even more. If you don’t get the script, it’s up to you to decide how to play the role and develop the character.
If you only get the sides and a brief description of the role, then try to get the sides for the other characters and description of their roles. This helps you get more information for your character and to understand what is happening in the movie if you don’t have the entire script.
We look for actors who do their research when they’re auditioning for films. Besides researching the type of movie it is, look up who is directing and producing the film. If the director is a newer director, look them up on IMDb or Google and see if they have worked on shorts, web series, music videos, won any awards, etc. Watch some of the director’s work. Do the same with the producers. This will give you an idea of their filmmaking style.
I always say the more you do your research, the more knowledge you have and the stronger your choices will be. One of the most important factors in auditioning for films is to make bold outside the box choices. What is a bold choice? A bold choice is looking at the nuances of the character and finding those interesting subtleties that might not be on the page. For example, say a character is super angry in a scene. He doesn’t have to play the scene yelling, but maybe he plays the scene laughing or in a sarcastic manner.
Learn to embrace your unique qualities and use those in your acting. One actor who I cast when he was first beginning his career, Giovanni Ribisi, came in and read for a grocery store clerk. He played the entire scene cross-eyed. That was an outside the box choice for the role because that wasn’t written on the page. He ended up getting the job.
Be bold, take chances, be brave! Make outside the box choices and really enjoy the process of auditioning for films because that’s what we like to see: your creativity and bold choices.
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