Actors are constantly encouraged to create their own content. But often the advice stops there. For actors who are new to wearing the producer hat, these can be difficult waters to navigate. So today we’re going to take it one step at a time. If you’re creating your own content, you’ll probably need more actors at some point, and that means auditions. While self-tapes are common for film work, it’s also likely you’ll want them in the room at some point, so today we’ll focus on in-person auditions. Here are some tips to get you started on the other side of the table.
- The Invite. Communication is key. Dummy-proof your audition invites. I recommend Bcc-ing everyone on the invite email to keep things clean and professional. Review it several times before you send, making sure that everything is concise, clear, and free of typos. The trick is to include all information while making sure it will actually be read. There is only so much you can do. Try to break it up–think closer to bullet points than block paragraphs. Make sure important information is in bold. Include any gate codes or parking information as though you’re coming to the space for the very first time. And don’t assume anything is a given. I recently learned the hard way that unless specifically asked, many young actors will neglect to bring headshots and resumes. (Actors, do not do this).
- The Vibe. If you have any control over the audition venue at all, do your best to make it feel welcoming. If you’re just starting to create your own content, chances are you’re not yet offering to pay much (if anything). If this is the case, try to show your actors you respect their time and talent with personal touches. Provide water bottles, coffee, snacks. Make sure to thank them for coming out. Be respectful of their time. Make sure to stay on schedule and don’t keep them hanging around without instruction. If you run over, thank them for their patience. You’re building a reputation from the moment of first contact, and you want to be someone they want to work with.
- The Materials. Being precious with sides is a trap into which new directors and producers often fall. Keep them short. You will be stunned how quickly you are able to tell if someone is right for the part. Overwhelming actors with dense, multipage sides is a sure way to advertise inexperience and guarantee your auditions will run long.
- The Audition. I cannot stress this enough. Be prepared. Know what you’re looking for and how to verbalize it. Plan and organize how each audition will be run. An ill-organized audition will erode the trust actors place in you and may lose you candidates. You don’t need to give too many notes to see if someone can take direction. If you need to make a decision on the fly, thank the actor and have them step out of the room rather than figuring it out in front of them. It is extraordinarily helpful to have someone running the
- The Follow-Up. Especially if you can’t offer pay, jump on the follow up as quickly as possible to avoid losing actors. Manage expectations in the audition by letting them know roughly when they might hear from you. Then follow through. I always think it’s kind and respectful to send not only casting offers, but the thanks-but-no-thanks emails. Pro tip: Don’t send the latter till you have all offers accepted. You may need to keep a bench of backups in case someone declines.
Creating your own content is an exciting way to keep you sharp, expand your skillset, and find your voice as an artist. Committing to professionalism and being willing to learn and adjust will go a long way towards making sure your early ventures are successful. Other than that, trust your instincts, be confident and courteous, and find the joy in the work.