It doesn't matter how long you've been acting, (1) auditions suck. There's no built set waiting for you, there's no one to act off of besides an apathetic reader, and if you have a scene partner, you've barely had a chance to rehearse. If it's a student film, you'll be handed the scene after you check in and will have little to no information about the script or the character. If you have an agent or you are snagging auditions for yourself online, (2) be prepared for the ever popular "Self-Tape". Haven't heard of that? Well you better Google it. It's the way things are done now. Even if you live in LA and the casting office is 1 mile down the road, you will most likely be asked to submit a Self-Tape anyway. And if you are invited to the casting office, most of you will have to sit and wait in a room full of people who look like a different version of you, quietly reciting the same lines you're trying to memorize, reminding you that you are replaceable. Here's the deal, no matter what audition scenario you find yourself in,
(3) it is critical that you have a powerful and active IMAGINATION. I cannot think of one time I didn't have to conjure a person place or thing (or all three at the same time) out of thin air and react honestly to it. Whether you're the type to practice crying in the mirror, or summon childhood memories, or pretend your dog is dead....again, to get those emotions flowing, (4) you MUST figure out a good way to PREP before any audition. The nice thing about Self-Tapes is that you can do it over and over and over until you get it right.... or run out of time with your coach, or run out of natural light through the window... or run out of a quiet place to work because the kids finally get home. The bad thing about always submitting Self-Tapes is that you forget how to get it right the first time. The casting directors MIGHT give you a chance to do it more than once if they like you, or they want to see if you can take direction... which usually means it will be something you haven't prepared for. Which brings me to another important thing to know. (5) You must be able to think fast and make strong choices. Trust your creative instincts.
They may not love your strong choice but they'll appreciate your confidence. (Confidence is not the same as cockiness. Don't be cocky). (6) Sorry, you're replaceable. BUT..... the good news is, they are looking for someone who is original and stands out. So, make strong choices and embrace them. To clarify, strong choices do not equal over-acting. Don't over-act. Trust that all the work and prep you did before you walked in the door will be there when you need it. Remember? You have to do work before you audition. Preparation is the one thing that will set you apart from the actors who are half-assing it. The more you know about your character and the moments you are bringing to life, the easier it will be. Auditions suck, but they can be fun if you have the right perspective. My buddy Todd Julian said the best thing ever. (7) "The audition is the job". Treat the audition like it is the actual performance as if you booked it. Take it that seriously and make a strong effort to do the very best you can. Even if you don't get the call back or book the job, you WILL learn something about yourself, and hopefully your audition will be memorable to the casting director.
Oh ya. (8) They remember you. You just want to make sure it's because there was something special about you that reminds them they want to work with you, even if they can't book you for this one. Acting is fun. It really is. If you're a "real" actor, the moment you can bring yourself to a state of total despair, curled up in a fetal position, bawling your eyes out "in character", you get excited! We get excited about the weirdest things. While you're in-between auditions, make sure you are exercising your emotional availability and sharpening your "actor tools". (9) Don't get lazy! Stay creative. Get really good a memorizing. If you are constantly working on how to be a better actor, you won't be as nervous at the audition. It'll just be another day in the actor office. Also, don't sit around and wait for people to write projects and post auditions in order for you to have a reason to be creative. (10) Write your own stuff! Collaborate with other creative people. Make friends with up-and-coming cinematographers. They are desperate for good actors. Acting takes some thick skin and moxie. If anything I have mentioned so far scares you, and you're now re-thinkging your career goals, that's probably for the best. You either press into to this with fearlessness or go home. Acting is NOT for the faint of heart. Auditions are just the beginning. So let's review:
1. Auditions Suck
2. Learn how to Self-Tape
3. You must have a powerful imagination
4. Figure out your preparation technique
5. Think fast and make strong choices
6. You're replaceable so be memorable
7. The audition IS the job
8. Make a good impression
9. Don't get lazy!
10. Write your own stuff.
If your'e still reading this, and thrive on a challenge, there may be hope for you yet. Now... go do something creative! ;)