Pre-Production: Auditions Part 04

More in the auditions saga (A Cautionary Tale, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

Where you hold your auditions is also important. You want somewhere that has enough space for the actors not to feel inhibited but, as it’s for a low/no budget film, you don’t want to have too much physical space between you and the actor. Yeah, in movies and on television, the actor/dancer/performer walks nervously out of the wings onto the stage and the producer and director are sitting bored seventeen rows back in a theatre.

You’re not them. You want to be able to see their faces, their expressions. Headshots can hide a lot – I’ve lost count of the amount of times that actors have come in and I’ve only vaguely recognised them from their headshots. But the most important thing to remember is that the audience will be watching their faces. If you’re sitting seventeen rows away from them, how will you remember the twinkle in the eye, the quirk of their mouth? You won’t. You can hope that the camera you’re filming the auditions on will pick it up, but you want to get caught in the actor’s spell. So let yourself be close enough to do so.

Which brings me to:

This is all the stuff I take to an audition.

Cedric, my laptop. I use Ced to update the spreadsheet to make a note of which actors have shown up, which actors haven’t, any other notes I want to make. I try not to make these with pencil so that none of the actors coming in afterward don’t spot anything and try to change their performances. I think it’s really important that you CLOSE your laptop during an actor’s audition – how are you going to make notes on their performance if you aren’t watching? Plus, they’re taking time out of their day to come and see you – it’s about respect. I make notes in the times between actors – if it’s important, you’ll remember it. If it’s really important, then make a vague note in pencil and clarify it for yourself later.
Pens, pencils and highlighters. Always really handy to have around in general. I’m one of those people who always has a pen and paper in my bag anyway. Highlighters are good to cross names off lists – or make a note of the actors you’re black listing because they haven’t shown up.
Spare copies of the audition pieces. You’ll want one for you to follow along with. You’ll want one for the reader (if you have one) to read from. You’ll want a spare one because there are always actors who haven’t been able to bring them along. And you’ll want a spare one for the spare one because the spare one gets rumpled. It’s always good to have a few extra copies.
Spare copies of the audition timetable. Depending on how many people you are running the auditions with, it’s always a good idea to have spares in case you lose/spill coffee on/it gets stolen by green squirrels.
Camera. As I mentioned earlier, headshots can sometimes lie. Try and look at actors headshots in colour – they always look different than their black and white shots. The best way to get around this is to decide whether their headshot kind of matches the face of your characters, then take a less professional shot of them on the day. I took my camera along to the auditions then proceeded to forget all about taking shots during the audition. It’s annoying because during the decision making process, I had to rely on memory and the video to decide how much they looked like their headshots.

Video Camera (not pictured). Always film your auditions. You can sometimes get a good sense of who to cast instantly, but there will inevitably be (as there was this time around) several actors vying for the part in your head. The best thing to do is rewatch them and decide who is right for the project.

Hard-drive, card reader and spare battery. Because we were shooting the auditions digitally, I knew we’d have to dump the cards at some stage and I knew the files would be too big to fit onto my computer. Spare battery is one of those things you always forget, then desperately need.
Yep. Sticky tape and a Sharpie. Or texta. Or a marker pen. Whatever country you come from, these are really important things I always manage to forget about. Except this time, thankfully. What isn’t pictured here, but is up in the top picture, is blank paper. You will ALWAYS need to make signs. If you have time, print them up the night before. Chances are, you won’t have time or you’ll realise that the place you’re holding the auditions is a little harder to find than you thought or you want the actors to sit in one spot to wait instead of the other spot. Either way, these are always really handy to have on…well, on hand.
You’re nearly ready. How exciting is this?

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