You come to the audition totally prepared, headshot and résumé in hand, dressed to kill. You enter the room and nail the copy. You get great feedback from everyone and they ask you to do a few more takes, which you also nail. It couldn’t have gone better! They even give you the dates again to confirm you are available. You leave the session floating on a cloud, thinking “That part is mine, I can feel it!”
And then...you wait. Days go by and suddenly the shoot date is around the corner but still nothing. “I paid my cell phone bill, right?” you wonder. Then you ask your friend to call you to make sure the phone works. “Yeah, OK, thanks.” But it’s still crickets from casting.
So what went wrong? Why didn’t you get the part? What really happens after the audition? Well, once you leave the room, let’s just say the politics begin.
The bigger the project, the more cooks there are in the kitchen and all of them have their own idea of who they think is right for the part. For a commercial, the cooks (or clients) can include the production company (who usually hires casting), the advertising agency, and the main company who ultimately hires everyone. Suffice to say, there are many opinions fighting for supremacy!
Once we’ve seen all of the talent audition, the headshots go on the table and the voting process begins. Then the clients who are in the session take the votes back to their colleagues at their respective offices. They will present their top picks to the main company who will view the audition clips and make a decision.
It takes time for everyone to review the materials, sometimes weeks. Additionally, there is plenty of opportunity for an underdog to come out of nowhere and book the job. I just cast a commercial for a hospital, and after two days of callbacks, someone who wasn’t even a front runner for the production company or ad agency booked the lead. It’s a crazy business.
What is the logic behind the decision process? Sometimes none at all. But here are seven possible reasons why you do not get the part...
1. They’re casting a family.
You audition for the “mom” role and blow it away. However, they need a mom with red hair (unbeknownst to you), not a brunette, since the “daughter” they’ve already cast looks like Annie. They think about asking you to dye your hair but then decide to go with the natural redhead who auditioned after you.
2. They change the specs.
Sure, you’re a spitting image of the character on the storyboards they sent out for the audition. But guess what? They got the marketing data back and turns out they should be marketing to millennial guys, not girls. So they call me in a panic, scrap everyone who auditioned, and I pull together a last minute casting session for males.
3. A decision maker previously dated a brunette and it did not go well.
4. The client’s daughter wants to be in it.
Poof! There goes the role.
5. The client’s client changes their mind.
I was casting a commercial for a law firm and things went swimmingly at the session. The ad company was pleased as punch and sent their two favorites to the client for review. I get the word back from them a week later that they decided to go with someone else completely. Why? Because the wife of an exec liked the shirt the talent was wearing in the audition video.
6. They decide to go with a “name.”
If I’m auditioning you for one of the leads in an independent film, just know that if we’re able to negotiate a deal with a “name,” you probably won’t get the part. No offense; it’s just business.
7. You’re just not right for the part.
The fact of the matter is that many clients don’t know what they want until it’s right in front of them. My favorite clients trust me to bring in talent that might not exactly fit the part, but may be a creative alternative...which is the fun part of the job! But casting is a lot like dating: you can just “feel” when it’s right. And sometimes it’s just not happening.
So even if you gave the audition of your life, as I am sure you know, it still doesn’t guarantee the part. If you don’t get cast, it’s nothing personal and probably isn’t a reflection on your performance at all.
When you walk out of the room, just know that there are a lot of folks that have a voice in who gets the job...some of which may not be in the room. The best advice I can give you is to try to leave the audition behind you and move on to the next one. Trust me, the stars will align for you at some point if you are prepared. Keep doing the work and it will pay off! And even if you think you gave a lousy audition, keep your phone on and nearby. You might actually still get booked!
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.