Written by Dallas Travers, CEC
A lot of actors express frustration about not having access to their dream auditions.
They say that if only they could “get in the room” they’d be able to book the job. Perhaps you don’t need to “get in the room” at all before auditioning for a role you desire. Maybe you can instead film an audition for that dream role and submit your DVD to the producer, casting director, or director of the film.
Did you know that Vera Farmiga landed the role of Madelyn in Martin Scorsese’s film, The Departed because she created an audition tape and sent it directly to Mr. Scorsese?
Mick Brown interviewed Farmiga for the August, 2008 edition of The Telegraph where he wrote, “In lieu of attending auditions, whenever she read a script that interested her she would make a mini home-movie of the character she wanted to play, acting out the part while a friend fed her lines. ‘With the program on a Mac you could really edit it in a very clever way, fade in and fade out, have intimacy with the mikes, the lighting, and have the luxury of takes – you could make yourself as ugly or as beautiful as you wanted. They always resulted in a meeting – a flight over to Los Angeles to meet the director. Even if at the end of it all I didn’t get the role it would be fine because I’d already executed it in my own living-room’.”
Imagine if you directed the same amount of energy toward creating audition tapes that you do toward finding an agent, attending workshops, or worrying about when the next audition might land in your lap. Take your career into your own hands and create what I call At Home Auditions. Here are a few tips to get you started…
Use Great Lighting & Sound
You’re not producing an Oscar caliber feature here, but you do want to create the best possible audition tape by using a light kit, a digital camera and a mic.
Do your best to illuminate your face so you can really shine. Open up the curtains to invite in as much natural light as you can and if necessary, use a small light kit. The right lighting conveys a higher level of professionalism and allows the viewer to easily connect to your performance rather than feel distracted by dark shadows. I use a table top light kit to shoot my blog videos. It cost about ninety dollars – money very well spent. Simply plug in and shoot – it’s that simple. Plus it does wonders for your appearance. Find your own table-top light kit here.
Don’t worry about investing in a fancy, expensive camera. You can shoot crisp, HD footage with the Kodak Zi8. It’s just like a Flip camera, but it allows for external mic input, which the Flip camera lacks. Using an external mic will really improve the sound quality of your At Home Audition, so go for the KodakZi8. Not only is the picture quality superb on this camera, but it requires no high tech skills at all, and only costs about $100.00.
Work with a Reader Off Camera
Ideally, your At Home Audition should look just like a regular audition. This means grabbing a friend to be your off camera reader. Identify 2-3 fellow actors you can partner with to co-create At Home Auditions. It’s a great workout for your craft and an easy way to support one another.
Reserve At-Home Auditions For Those Roles You’re Exceptionally Right For
One major benefit of At Home Auditions is that you get to build trust with the casting directors you’re submitting to. Whether or not one specific At Home Audition results in a booking, you’re giving casting a great opportunity to see you perform well and to absorb the types of roles you’re best suited for.
The best way to build the trust required to turn your At Home Auditions into in person auditions, callbacks, and bookings is to reserve self-submitted them for those roles that call for a unique characteristic you possess, specific training you’ve had, or something uncommon about your appearance. Avoid self-submitting for any generic roles and instead wait for those special roles that seem to have your name written all over them.
Prepare Like a Pro
You have more flexibility to really knock it out of the park with an At Home Audition. So, be prepared. Try not to rely heavily on your sides, though you can have them in your hand. Be patient and allow yourself several takes. You may even consider coaching with a friend before shooting the audition to work out any nerves or kinks as well as to get an outside perspective.
Keep the Details on the Down Low
Even though the casting notices are accessible and the sides for your audition are available through ShowFax, please remember that you’re auditioning for a role that the general public doesn’t know about. Rather than publish your audition on You Tube for the world to see, protect yourself, the production, and the story by publishing your At Home Audition on a hidden page of your own website, a password protected video on Vimeo.com, or deliver a hard-copy DVD directly to the casting office.
Count Yourself Out Before You Even Try
This may sound silly, but the only way you’ll know for sure if At Home Auditions work is if you throw your hat in the ring. So, avoid talking yourself out of taking action. I’m sure you could think of 100 different reasons why At Home Auditions may not work or why you may not book the job you desire. But trust me, taking bold action toward what you want- even if you don’t get it – feels so much better than talking yourself into doing nothing at all. So, go for it.
Respected as one of the entertainment industry’s leading experts, Dallas Travers teaches actors the career and life skills often left out of traditional training programs. Her groundbreaking book, The Tao of Show Business, has won over five awards including first prizes at The Hollywood Book Festival and the London Festival along with the National Indie Excellence Award. She has helped thousands of actors to increase their auditions, produce their own projects, secure representation and book roles in film and television.
If you’re ready to jump-start your acting career, get your FREE Thriving Artist Starter kit now at http://www.dallastravers.com