How to Hold An Audition - OFFICIAL DISCUSSION


#1

Whether you’re casting for a director, or doing the casting yourself, we hope these guidelines to holding an audition will help you create the best film you can.

Auditions should demonstrate professionalism and care, no matter what budget you are working with (especially no budget!). Well-crafted casting breakdowns, clear communication, and a good audition space will speak volumes about how seriously you take your project, and make actors more eager to work with you.

You can download the official study guide here! It also includes more specific information about casting notices and breakdowns.

Questions for Cate? Ask below!


#4

Where would Auditions usually be held? Could you rent out a Community Center or something like that?


#5

This is video was GREAT! I feel like I learned a lot! Now I wanna hold an audition!

But when it comes to big budget productions done by super-famous directors like Peter Jackson or Spielberg, they must be getting THOUSANDS of people auditioning. How does the casting director manage to sort through them all?


#6

Didn’t she explain that they organized several people into half an hour slots? You would just being doing that for weeks. My concern is if there’s not enough people auditioning.


#7

Hello!

This is Cate from the video. You can hold and audition in several places. Churches, libraries, community centers, or your university (if you’re a student) almost always have rooms for rent or public use. Try those first. If you are in a real bind, take a look for office space for rent available in your area. Craig’s list has an office & commercial section, but check it out before booking it. Be safe and smart while using unfamiliar locations.

If you are casting for someone else’s production, see if they have production office space that can be available for you to use.

Try to avoid using someone’s home. If you MUST use a home, make the space as professional looking as possible, and maybe put something about it in your reply email to auditioners. ie: “Casting Office is located in a residential area. Please call 555-555-5555 for access.”

I hope this helps, and thanks for watching!!


#9

Hello!

My process is best used on small scale auditions with fewer than 200 auditioners. I like to call 4 or 5 people for every 30 minute block during my casting day. 5 people will get an email saying their audition is at 2:00, 5 more people will get an email saying their audition is at 2:30 and so on…

I know this sounds like it would cause big backups having 5 people arriving at the same time, but some people are early, some are late, some auditions are really short etc, and people are usually kept waiting no more than 15 minuets. It has worked well for me. Experiment with your own casting calls, however, and see what works for you!

If you only have a few people to see, just plan on having a really short session. Sometimes it takes less than an hour to see everyone! During those projects when you feel like you don’t have enough people to choose from, get a little creative. Ask friends, use social media, go see university plays in your area and see if any actors look right etc… Most acting students are really hungry to be on film, and just don’t know where to look.

Larger scale productions with MANY cast members and MANY MANY auditioners use a different process that RJFS can talk about in a different video.

Thanks!


#10

Thanks for all the help! Now I’m prepared for casting on my future projects.


#11

I wonder if there’s any way to anticipate how many people will show before putting out your call. If three people total show up, maybe it’s time to consider a pay hike–but your call has already gone out. Anybody experience this?


#12

Really great information here. I think a great deal of holding a good
audition is really just in having good common sense. Great to have a
video like this breaking it all down though.


#13

I almost forgot. I’m guessing actors read the script before they audition :stuck_out_tongue: But would you post the script up for access or would they need request it? How would this go about?


#14

Hello!

It depends on the project. If you are able to send out the script, you can sent it and the side out in the audition confirmation email. Sometimes the script isn’t fully available yet or the production team is trying to keep it private. In those instances, you can just send the sides and answer any questions the actor may have as best you can on the day.


#15

Hello!

Try to give yourself enough time before a project is filming to be able to set up a second casting call if necessary. This really helps if 1) You didn’t have enough people at the first call or 2) You just didn’t find the right people.

If the breakdown you posted didn’t bring in enough people, try changing it up a little for the second call. Change the character descriptions or project summary. Try to make it more specific or inviting while still being honest.

If you think a low pay rate is a problem keeping people away, speak with the producer about it, and see if you can get approval to increase the pay. I try not to put a specific dollar amount in the breakdown anyway, though.


#16

I’m making a short film with the Santa Barbara Film Festival for the 10-10-10 competition. I have taken your advise with casting and auditions but I want to know how much I should pay each actor. I don’t have much of a budget. What would you say is a good enough pay for 3 actors who have about 6 minutes of screen time each shooting for 3-4 days? I’m ultra low budget.


#17

Follow up to this thread, and sort of nit-picky question. I’m holding a callback in a few weeks and I’m trying to figure out the best etiquette. I’d like to try different combinations of different options for the leads. I.e. I have Bill and John reading for Character A and Jane and Jill reading for Character B, but I’d like to see how Bill reads with Jane AND how Bill reads with Jill, as well as how John reads with Jane and how John reads with Jill. Is it gauche to call them all to one big block, and do a sort of round robin with a place for them to chill and go over lines while I work with one group?

Plz advise <3 BHT


#18

@CFG Do you have any thoughts on this?


#19

Hey!

I don’t think this is weird at all. In fact, I think you are really smart to see how the different actors work with each other. Run it efficiently, and respectfully, and you are fine.

I would schedule it thusly: (put whatever times you like, obviously)

Callback Appointment Times:
9:00am - Jill and Bill
9:15am - John
9:30am - Jane

  • At 9:00am, Jill can read with Bill.

  • At 9:15am, ask Jill to stay in the room and ask Bill to wait outside. Call in John to read with Jill.

  • At 9:30am, release Jill, and ask John to wait outside. Call in both Jane and Bill to read together.

  • At 9:45am, release Bill, ask Jane to stay in the room, and call in John to read with Jane.

If you do it this way, each person gets to read with each partner, but you are not wasting any one person’s time by making them wait the whole time. Sometimes this can’t be avoided, and people just have to wait, but it’s respectful to avoid if you can.

I also like this because it gives each set of partners privacy while they are reading. I think you’ll get a better, less self-conscious reading if all four people aren’t watching each other the whole time.

Lastly, I’ll encourage you to take your time to get what you need out of the audition. Don’t feel rushed. Give the different pairs a few notes, and let them try the scene a couple of times so you can really see how they look and work together.

Let me know if you have any other questions, and good luck! I hope you feel great about your cast after these callbacks.


#20

Hello RJFS,

I’m going to be casting pretty soon for my junior thesis, and a restriction for the class is that the film cannot have any dialogue and must be told entirely visually. My question is, when casting for something without dialogue, what’s the best way to find the actors that I’m looking for? Any ideas on how I can audition with a script that doesn’t contain dialogue?

Thanks!


#21

Heya,

Thanks for the tag @Lauren and for the advice @CFG (is that Cate behind the account? :smiley: )

We ended up doing pretty much this. The racial breakdown of the cast meant that some pairings weren’t necessary as they wouldn’t have been compatible to cast together, but we ended up reading some of them anyways because I’m always down for a rewrite if we love the actors and can swing it. Overall though, it went really great and I’d really recommend having callbacks like this if you can and have the time - seeing different prepared reads of the text also teach you (or at least me) a lot about the characters, potential rewrites, or just how different people see the characters in a really in-depth way, which is generally super helpful.

Cheers! :slight_smile:


#22

I remember having to do this exact process in school myself. I think Cate (@CFG) might have a more concrete answer, but what helped me was having them act out one or two moments in the script that have some actions they can perform. Pick moments that can demonstrate range, but at least one of them should be a moment that is absolutely crucial for the character (Maybe it’s a scene where they break down emotionally, or have to have good comedic timing.)

Sometimes it helps if you have actors play off one another to give them something more to do than to act against nothing. Or you can provide them with props.

From what I remember, if you need to, you can tweak the scene or the moment to make it work for the audition, or you can find a similar scene that matches the tone and range of your film (meaning it doesn’t have to be the exact scene as it ends up in your final script). You can also see how they physically embody a character by asking them how they think this person would handle being startled, how they’d laugh, how they’d wake up after a late night and write out a few action beats that allow them to try things out. Any thoughts @CFG??