As we enter the audition room, we must always, of course, be ready to drop into our characters and whatever emotional states that our scenes demand. Yet the very first impression that we get to make on casting is actually through our slate. A strong slate will hook the interest of a casting director. Your slate, especially in the commercial world, is arguably just as important as the rest of your audition. It’s your chance to introduce yourself and express who you are as a person. Your slate should convey that you are friendly and easy to work with (which you are) and highlight your personality!
At 3-2-1- Acting School in Los Angeles, we definitely focus on the importance of slating. We teach our students specific techniques for winning over the casting directors within the first few seconds of an audition. Here are some tips on how to slate for an audition:
1. Smile. I can’t emphasize the importance of a warm, genuine smile. This will show the casting director that you are a friendly, authentic person, and that you are likable and will be great to work with. If you are feeling nervous before slating, it’s helpful to think of something happy or funny, or a person you really love, right before you begin. Even if you are auditioning for a dramatic role, smile when you introduce yourself. You want to show that you have many facets as an actor, and that you are going to be fun to work with.
2. The camera is your best friend. When you slate, the lens of the camera should become your best friend, role model, spouse, significant other, favorite pet, etc. Look into the lens of the camera as though you are talking to someone you absolutely admire, respect, or adore. If it helps, you can pretend you are at a fun social gathering, and that you are super excited to connect with this person.
I have one teacher who really likes to tell his students to make the camera somebody that you really want to meet, and to picture the camera as that person. You are introducing yourself for the first time. This teacher also suggests that you make the camera a different person each time you slate to keep it fresh!
The more you connect with the camera like it is a person that you’ve known for your entire life, or a person that you are excited to meet for the first time, the more the casting director will be able to connect with you!
3. State your name with confidence! Say your name as though you’ve just stepped off set from your last TV booking, and as if you’ve just booked a big hit movie. Own your name. Love your name! Treat your name with respect and enthusiasm. Know that your name is beautiful, unique and special, just as you are.
4. Watch footage of auditions and slates. Do some test runs at home on your smartphone. See how you come across on camera. Are you looking directly into the lens? Are you smiling? Would you want to work on a film set with the person you are watching? Watch footage of your friends and classmates whenever you get the chance. Whose audition slate stood out to you, and what did he or she do that won you over? Take notes, and pay close attention to the mannerisms that drew you in or pushed you away. Again, your slate is your first impression, so you want to spend time rehearsing yours until you feel totally natural, authentic and connected each time that you introduce yourself.
I commend you for taking the time to research ways in which to improve your auditions and to better yourself as an actor. As you rehearse and try new approaches to slates and auditions, I urge you to have fun because, after all, that’s why we got into this business in the first place.
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