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What NOT to do at a Casting Call

September 03, 2014

What NOT to do at a Casting Call

An audition is very much like a job interview and unfortunately if it doesn’t go well, the likelihood that you’ll be invited back for a second audition or that you will be cast in the project becomes drastically low. With hundreds of others vying for the same role, the odds are already stacked against you so you don’t want to diminish your chances by making rookie mistakes. The following are absolute no-no’s when it comes to auditioning. Avoid these casting room blunders and you’re already ahead of the gang:

  • Don't Chew Gum - While gum chewing seems to be less in style these days, casting directors still say they encounter the occasional chomping from time to time. What's the big deal if I can simply throw it away when asked?  Well, to start, you don’t want to have to stop your audition for such requests, but moreover, when you chew gum you actually create a character all its own and this character may or may not be what you’re going for with this particular audition. Casting Directors report that gum chewing evokes characters such as valley girls or aloof teenagers; if this is what you hope to embody, fake the gum chewing and leave the real snap, crackle, pop at the door.
  • Don't Shake Hands - This rule of the casting room seems counter to what many parents teach as it is generally customary to introduce one’s self with an extended hand. Casting Directors are in agreement: avoid shaking hands. Unfortunately germs get passed around the casting room faster than rumors in a gossip magazine, and the pros simply want to cut down on their chances of getting sick. Instead, make eye content and introduce yourself. To substitute for a handshake exit, thank the Casting Directors for their time and wave a sincere goodbye.
  • Balance Eye Contact between the CDs and Your Material - It is a common trend for parents to discourage their child from bringing their materials into the room, but many casting directors actually prefer that you do. Natural performances involving your sides are much preferred over an over-rehearsed, over-memorized performance.  While the pros want you to do your best with memorization, they also don't want you standing there with nothing to read if you forget a line or two.  So bring in your sides, avoid looking at them as much as possible, and use them if you need to.
  • Don't Make Excuses - Everyone makes mistakes in auditions.  In fact, actors make mistakes during shoots!  It is okay to ask to start over.  Stop, speak clearly and begin again.  Avoid starting over multiple times.  But most importantly don't make excuses. Own every moment of your time in the room. Casting Directors have heard it all, and explaining why you messed up is not going to convince them to give you the part.  Showing them a confident personality even if you mess up, however, very well may. 

  • Don't Make Excuses - Parents, this no-no goes for you too.  You were stuck in traffic...your other child had a ball game...your printer ran out of ink and you couldn't print your child's sides.  Unfortunately it sounds harsh, but the pros don't want to hear it.  Also, don't make excuses for your child like "he would have been more prepared, …” and “She’s usually much more outgoing…”  Such comments unfortunately give the impression that you’re trying to control the outcome of the meeting rather than simply allowing the pros to see the positive qualities in your child. So, be polite if an apology is appropriate, but stop at that.
  • Don't be Late - This rule will help you avoid having to make excuses upon arrival. Chances are your tardiness is due to traffic, especially in Los Angeles.  We understand, but unfortunately showing up late makes a clear statement to the pros: "My time is more important than yours."  Every Casting Director in LA is aware of traffic and has sat through it countless times before. He or she understands what it takes to make it somewhere on time - allowing enough time for transit - and will therefore offer up very little sympathy to those who are tardy. TIP: Take the distance in miles to your location and multiply it by two. If a place is 20 miles away, allow 40 minutes and, during rush hour, allow an hour.
  • Don't Bring Other Children - unless there is a specific request for you to do so, do not bring other children to the audition. Hire a babysitter, call in a favor from the neighbors or worst case, bring an older child to take the additional children into another area completely separate from the casting office to keep quiet and entertained.  Though this is often easier said than done, this is the most common "don't" we hear from industry professionals across the board. Similarly, if the Casting Director asks about your other children, feel free to speak about them, but unless they directly request to meet them, do not bring it up. CDs are most likely being polite and making conversation and don't want to be bombarded with a pitch to meet your other children.
  • Don't Forget Your Child's Headshot - Whether you've decided this is your child's responsibility or yours, your child should never enter the casting room without a headshot that is appropriately stapled to his/her resume.  Even if you think the Casting Director already has the headshot, bring another one just in case.
  • Don't Bring Overly Tired or Overly Wired Children - If your child is tired, sick, wired or cranky it is not going to help your chances.  Ensure that your child gets adequate rest and hasn't had too much caffeine or sugar before the audition. 
  • Don't Gossip in the Waiting Room - Gossip, bragging and generally spreading rumors about other auditions to other parents simply won't work in your favor.  We don't want to sound harsh because we've all been known to brag a time or two, but let your child's talent stand out when s/he auditions.  Humility and sincerity work wonders in this industry. Plus, Hollywood is the smallest town you’ll ever work in. Word gets around. Let positivity and talent be the thing that others hear about you and your child.
  • Don't Coach or Scold Your Child in Front of Casting Directors - Instructing or scolding your child on his or her performance (or practice performance while waiting) is never a good thing.  It's one of the behaviors that brings about the "stage parent" reputation.  Casting directors are looking for children who are interested in the acting experience and they steer clear of parents who seem demanding, stressed, pushy or overbearing.  While it is usually the case that parents are encouraged to take an active and outspoken part in their child's life (education, social activities, etc) we often hear that industry professionals look for parents who will likely play the role of "silent supporter" and let their child take the lead.