What a casting director really thinks!

I love auditions! They are by far, my favorite part of the casting process. I love the anticipation. I keep hoping the next person will be it! That he will be just what we’re looking for or she will bring something new to the sides that no one else has. Auditions are amazing, but sometimes they can be exhausting. Sometimes my mind starts to wander, but I always stay on task and pay attention to the actor in front of me. Often times, it’s clear within a few seconds (usually 10 or less) if this actor will be right for the project.

That’s the thing. You’ve got to engage me right away. When you walk in the audition room, smile! Be friendly and polite and then get down to work. Be courteous and pleasant and then make a graceful exit.

So, what is a casting director really thinking? It may look like the casting director is looking down and not engaged with you, but she may actually be checking out your credits. Don’t get thrown by what you see behind the casting table.

If you’re unprepared, I’m probably thinking that you will not be getting a callback so I can cross your name off the list. Within a few moments, I may write NR4T on the top of your resume, in my office that means “Not Right for This” Other casting offices use similar shorthand to keep track of actors. I almost always take notes. I’ll write descriptive words like: intense, abrasive, exotic, aloof. I will also make notes about your appearance, the most common of these is, “Doesn’t look like headshot” or “Older than headshot.” I will also note if someone has a sense of style that fits the character or if the actor appears disheveled or sloppy (not good!)

So, what else am I thinking? I’m thinking about how you might work opposite other actors who have already been cast. I’m wondering if you will be  a good fit with the director’s style. I’m thinking about whether you resemble the actor already cast as the mother, brother, sister, father. I’m thinking all of these things because within about 10 seconds I know whether there is any chance you will be right for the project. If you are right for it, I’ll take some notes and then think about how you might fit in with the rest of the production. I’m still paying attention though! Sometimes actors seems right after 10 seconds but then do something to blow it in the next two minutes. If you’re not right, I’ll think about whether you might be right for any upcoming projects and whether I should keep your info on file and close at hand. I’m always thinking about other projects that I have lined up for the future, and I ‘ll make a note if I think you should be called in for those.

I hope to be generous and gracious, but at the end of the day. There are certain actors who will never get a chance to audition for me again. Usually, this choice comes down to two things: your talent (or lack thereof) and your attitude. If you are unprepared and don’t show me that you have the talent, I’m not going to call you back in again unless/ until you’ve amassed enough credits that will make me reconsider. The fact is, when an actor auditions and does a poor job, it can be embarrassing for the casting director if the director and/ or producer are in attendance. The same goes for when an actor doesn’t show, so not showing up is number one on my list of blacklist-worthy offenses. With most actors, it’s their attitude that gets them in trouble. Remember, an audition isn’t just about acting: it’s about finding someone you want to work with for the next 6 weeks or 6 months. I think some actors try to channel their nerves and it makes them seem surly and indifferent at times. So, it’s just as important to work on being relaxed, pleasant, and present as it is to work on the sides and really nail all of the moments.

This is the take away: you’ll never know what the casting director is thinking while you’re in the audition, so don’t try to decipher their movements or interpret their scribbles. Just be prepared and do your best!

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