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Tips for Auditioning Actors for Your Film

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/7/2011

Here is a look at a few tips for the actual audition of actors for your film.

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    The Right One During the Film Audition

    Though the technical aspects of filmmaking usually ignore it, the actors and actresses are really what your audience is going to see in your narrative film. Their level of performance is key to the success of the film and is, in a lot of ways, separate from the actual decisions you make around the technical digital video production and post-production. The proper performance will bring your film to life, and one that is off base can sink it no matter what you do. Your film auditions and film casting calls are going to be crucial for the success of your film because it is here where you are going to make choices about who you think will be able to play the roles just right. Here are a few tips for auditioning actors one on one or during film casting calls.

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    Documentation

    It is important to stay as organized as you can during film pre-production, and film auditions are no different. A very important part of keeping film auditions organized is to document them with a video camera. This does not have to be a high end HD formatted camera, but just to get a visual of the actor doing their audition. This is going to give you a good idea of how they look on camera and how they respond to the scene, and it will give you something to look back on when you are trying to make decisions between different actors that you met through the auditions or film casting calls.

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    Preparation

    The first thing that you have to decide for your film auditions is how you want your actors to prepare. If you are running full film auditions where you see each actor fairly intimately, then you may want to actually send them that segment of your script. You do not need to send the actors your whole script, but just the segment of the scene that you want them to audition from.

    If you are working with regular film casting calls where a lot of actors come in very briefly then it is not going to be realistic to have them prepare anything. Instead, you should have them just bring in information about themselves and a head shot. You can then ask them questions that are relevant and if you want, have them do a cold reading from the material. You can use the cold reading method in film auditions as well, but it is not going to be as good of an indicator of how well they will be able to handle the role.

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    Looking for It

    You are not going to know everything about your characters, even if you wrote the screenplay yourself. The reason for this is that the actor is going to have to build that character, but you should still know as much as you can about who they are. When you are conducting a film audition you should try to balance your expectations between seeing if they are meeting your conception of the character and being aware if they are contributing something new, yet exciting. What is most important is that they seem natural to the role and that they are keeping your attention, so look into this. It may be a good indication if they alter a couple lines so that they personalize it, but likely a bad one if they change whole sentences without approval.