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Casting Sessions, BE MEMORABLE!

I have talent, I want to be on television!”  A rampant message in my email and WhatsApp.

So, so what does one need to be cast to be on television?

Over the years as a producer, I have organised and attended numerous auditions.  Whether for television commercials, drama, game shows, photoshoots, music concerts or even theater. The casting/talent search basics remain the same and the quest for new and fresh talent continues.  I am big on performances so I will even cast the extras to make sure they are right!

What is casting/Talent search?

This is a pre-production process in the creative performing arts industry such as theater, film, photography or television for picking out a certain type of actor, dancer, singer, or extra to fit a particular role or part in a script.

Who is the Casting/Talent Agent?

A casting agent is a person or organization with a database of various talent that they market to those looking to hire talent through organizing casting calls.  From my experience a good casting agent must read the casting brief, know how and where to scout for talent.  I once had a TV script requiring a Maasai riding a bicycle.   We found the right talent with the right look, come the day of the shoot and the talent could not ride a bicycle.  Ever tried learning something new under pressure!

Who is the Casting Director?

A casting director is hired by the producer (myself) to find the best possible talent for specified roles and present these options.  They look for believable natural performances.

What is the Casting director looking for?

Like any job interview you want to put your best foot forward and remain hopeful for a second interview.

  • Physical Appearance; What are the physical requirements of the role being cast; age, voice, accent, weight, height, and all outward attributes.
  • Character role; What is the essence of the character role being cast. These are the internal performance characteristics and energy that the actor brings to the role.
  • Role play; Auditions can be scripted, so memorize your lines.  On other occasions they can be improvisation sessions with unusual situations at a moment’s notice that still require the talent to remain in character.
  • Casting portfolio; This quickly puts your face and skills together for the casting director.  Remember this is not an annual financial report, you have permission to showcase; emotion, personality, trend and the diversity of your range.
  • Self-tape Audition; Pick a plain background with good light and sound.  Take these three things for granted and kill your chances! Prepare well and record, remember it all boils down to the performance please don’t bore the audience, showcase your talent.  In the rare but has happened occasion; if you have another performer helping you with the role beware of upstaging.  The co-actor tends to actually get the role better because they are not trying too hard, they come across more natural and this is what the casting director is looking for.

What is expected of YOU at an audition?

  • Do your homework; Prepare, research and carefully, review the role to prove you understand tone, style and you are right for the role. Rehearse! Rehearse! Rehearse!
  • Know how to slate/Introduce yourself; Your name, what casting agency represents you and the character you are auditioning for. Helps if you do this with confidence and smiles.
  • Own the room; it’s your stage; Bring confidence and a desire to shine. You are here to perform, get into character, stay in character and exit the stage.
  • Own the words and role; Whether scripted or improvised, know and understand your words. Make the words your very own after all you rehearsed in front of a mirror!
  • Don’t mime; with invisible props, activities that are scene descriptions, it is most annoying to watch. Be in the moment!
  • Less is more; Beware how a camera frame works, work within the frame, minimize movement and be still ease out of the character.
  • Eyes don’t lie; They say eyes are the windows to the soul.  Train your eyes to reveal the slightest change of emotions in an incredibly controlled tension. This non-verbal skill sets apart amateurs and professionals.  Practice this daily.
  • Stillness is powerful; Being theater trained I am a champion of physical techniques such as facial expression, eye contact, movement, posture, gait, timing, spatial awareness and body language.  What thespians breath into a character is epic to watch and always gives me a rush!

Use every audition opportunity to update your portfolio, show your versatility, capture emotions and stand out.  Enjoy auditions. They are an opportunity for you to showcase your artistry.  Your work is simple, move your audience emotionally and win hearts.  Just like any other job interview there will be many no’s don’t give up!  Sooner or later, a YES will come your way.

Casting is simply getting deep into a character; personal, truthful and very vulnerable.

Share your #CastingPortfolio #SelfTapeAudition