How to stand out at an open call

I’ve had the good fortune (or misfortune) of attending a lot of open calls.  Whether the call is union or non, film or theater, I see the same mistakes over and over.  I think many actors avoid open calls because they view them as a waste of time, but frankly, that’s not true.  An open call is never a waste of time UNLESS you are not even close to right for any of the roles being cast.  Then it is a waste of time because the casting team will view you as someone who is wasting their time.  So how do y0u stand out at an open call when there are hundreds maybe even thousands of other people being seen?  Here are some tips to steer you toward success.

1) Try to be either early or late

From my experience, I best remember the first people I saw and the last people I saw when I’m sorting through hundreds of actors afterward.  The early people set the standard, and the late people are the freshest in my mind.

2) Be original (but not too original)

There is nothing more annoying the hearing the same song or monologue over and over and over again.  When the casting notice asks that you prepare a song or monologue from the show, then the repetition is expected, but often times that’s not the case.  At a recent open call, I asked for actors to bring a poem of their choosing to read.  I was surprised by the number of actors who chose the same handful of poems.  Some performed them well, while others struggled.  When it came to decision time, certain people stood out more because they chose material that was a little off the beaten path.  The conversation often goes like this:

Casting Director:  I think Melissa did a great job.  Do you think we should call her back?

Director: Which one was she?

Casting Director:  Red sweater.  She sang “Gimme Gimme”?

Director: That doesn’t narrow it down.

Choose your material wisely, and look for songs and speeches that show off your range and your knowledge of theatre/ film history. Now, I realize actors aren’t psychic and can’t know what others are performing, but just try to stay away from really popular recent shows and you’ll be ahead of the game.  Mix it up and you’ll stand out.

3) Let your acting speak for itself

At open call, the casting team has been sitting there for hours and sometimes days.  There is no time for chit chat.  Come in with a smile, introduce yourself and then launch right into the work.  When a casting director says “Whenever you’re ready” she really means: “right now.”  No timewasters, please!

Like it or not, an open call is always a mixed bag, and what will make you stand out is your creativity, professionalism, and talent.

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