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"For What It's Worth"

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  • Donise Hardy
    This is a new monthly column that is being written by Donise L. Hardy, CSA. Please understand that all opinions are strictly mine and do not represent the
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 1, 2013
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      This is a new monthly column that is being written by Donise L. Hardy, CSA.
      Please understand that all opinions are strictly mine and do not represent
      the opinions of any other Casting Directors... Some may agree and some may
      not! We are all individuals running our independent companies our way...
      So, I'm not trying to speak for anyone but myself!

      I hope you enjoy the tips, advice and comments which are meant to be helpful
      to you.

      So, "For What It's Worth", here are some Audition Tips for you!


      By Donise L. Hardy, CSA

      These comments mainly focus on TV commercial auditions. There are many
      similarities to a theatrical audition, but there are definite differences as

      First and foremost, be sure and book out with your agent if you are going to
      be unavailable to audition for any reason whatsoever! It is imperative that
      they know your availability and not submit you if you are not available.

      You may wish to keep notes on the various likes and dislikes of the local
      CD's. There aren't that many of us and we are definitely diverse. Not
      everything I say applies to each CD so that is why it is important for you
      to keep notes on us. The information contained in this posting is
      absolutely NOT intended to tell you how to audition for other CD's, but
      definitely for me.

      You are invited to an audition. A CD doesn't have to see you if they don't
      want to do so. So, you have already beaten out a lot of competition, just
      by getting the audition to begin with. We are on your side and want you to

      Check your email and voice mail before you leave for the audition to assure
      yourself that there haven't been any last-minute changes in the time,
      location, script or the brings.

      If you are traveling to an out-of-town audition, get your wardrobe ready and
      organized, fill your car with gas, check your tires, radiator and oil the
      day before. You surely don't want any surprises the day of an audition. If
      there is ever a problem, you need to call your agent NOT the CD.

      Make sure to plan, prepare, and select the appropriate hair, wardrobe and
      makeup for your character.

      On commercial auditions it is imperative that you dress to the role. You
      have to be "it" when you walk in the door, i.e. construction worker, bride,
      police officer, teacher, judge, go-go dancer, cowboy, socialite, nurse,
      cheerleader, bicyclist, kayaker, corporate executive, jock, etc.

      Prior to arrival in the studio, you should use the bathroom and also double
      check hair, makeup, teeth and wardrobe. Use a breath mint if you cannot
      brush your teeth. Some casting suites do not have a bathroom for talent to
      use, so take care of your business before you get there.

      Do not wear cologne or aftershave. Clients could have allergies or
      dislikes. Toothpaste, soap, shampoo and deodorant are all good!

      Please arrive no more than 15 minutes early. Most casting offices don't
      have a great deal of seating area. Parents: 1 child/1 parent. Period. No
      one should ever bring family or friends, much less pets, to an audition.
      This is a job interview, pure and simple; it just happens to be on tape.

      If you didn't receive the script, drop by the studio early, get a script and
      leave. Come back at your appointed time.

      Be prepared. Have 10 or 15 headshots with you just in case there is another
      audition going on and you are asked to participate. I'm ALWAYS going to ask
      for a minimum of 2 and have needed as many as 10. And don't bother blaming
      your agent, if you are unprepared.

      Have headshots and resumes stapled back to back and make sure the resumes
      are either printed directly onto the back of the headshot or trimmed to
      size. I'm asking all talent to have their name in a clear and legible font
      on the lower right of their headshot and their agency logo on the lower
      left. By the way, this is not an arts and crafts studio and no, I won't
      lend you my scissors or staplers. (You may wish to give the photographer
      credit on the photo as well. This is usually high up in the border on the
      upper right, running vertically.)

      Bring size sheets. Pick up a blank size sheet when you audition. Make a
      few copies of it so you have blanks on hand. Fill one out very legibly with
      everything except the audition date and project name. Make a lot of copies
      so you'll have them on hand. Don't staple them to the headshot/resume. If
      your information or sizes change, fill out a new one and get copies of it.
      This will save you a great deal of time at the studio.

      I know a lot of this is now handled electronically, but there are those of
      us who still will ask for headshots, resumes and size sheets. Be prepared.

      Sign in, sit down and shut up. Noise can easily travel through the wall
      into the casting suite while taping is taking place. If someone insists on
      talking, just tell them you'll talk later and that you are using the waiting
      time to concentrate and focus on the material. If they continue to annoy
      you, move. You should use the time to actually concentrate and focus on the

      Leave as much as possible in your trunk. Don't bring in 2 armloads of
      briefcases, laptops, cell phones, etc. When you walk in the door, you
      should have your headshots, resumes, size sheets, pen and script. That
      requires one manila envelope. There really isn't any place to put all your
      stuff and you certainly can't leave it unattended in the reception area and
      certainly not with the receptionist.

      Listen to any direction given in the reception room so that you will know
      what to expect when you enter the casting suite. I go out to the reception
      area throughout the day to give the actors direction and information about
      the audition in order to help you be better prepared and so that you will
      know exactly what to expect.

      If you have any questions, ask them first of your agent, i.e. pronunciation
      of a word, callback dates, shoot dates, etc. If your agent doesn't know,
      then ask the receptionist.

      Side note: If you are unavailable for the callbacks or shoot dates, DO NOT
      GO TO THE AUDITION! And obviously don't go if you have a current conflict,
      i.e. fast-food restaurant, casual-dining restaurant, auto, beverage,
      clothing line, computer, etc.

      When you enter the casting studio, put your personal items (which of course
      should be in your car) on the floor by the door or on a table, if one is
      provided. Stop and check to see where the mark is, where the camera is and
      the general set up of the room. Go stand on the mark unless otherwise

      Greet the CD and camera operator by name, if possible. Being called by
      another casting director's name is not okay.

      Pronounce my name right!

      Don't try and shake hands with us. We don't know where your hands have been
      and the #1 way of spreading germs and disease is through shaking hands.
      Don't touch us or our clients UNLESS they offer their hand first, then of
      course give them a good, moderately-firm handshake.

      Ask all questions BEFORE the tape is rolling. Ask "What's the frame?" so
      that you will know your working space. Again, if that has already been told
      to you, don't ask. If there is a reader ask if you should "read to reader
      or to camera". Ask if there will be a pause between the business portion of
      the audition and the material. Ask any pertinent questions you have about
      the audition or the material that is being held right now, not things in the
      future. Always be respectful and polite and LISTEN to the answers.
      Sometimes people are so busy thinking of their next question, they don't
      hear the answer to the one they just asked.

      When you hear "roll tape" that is direction to the camera operator, not you.
      Just stand there smiling and wait for the audition to begin. Rule of thumb
      is that when the camera is rolling during the business portion of the
      audition, you make eye contact with it. When not rolling, make eye contact
      with the person who is talking to you.

      Find out in advance if the CD wants or doesn't want agency mentioned. (I
      don't!) If the CD says, "May I have your name please?" that's usually all
      they want to hear. "Slate please" usually indicates name and agency. Check
      with the receptionist if this is your first audition with this CD. If that
      person doesn't know, just ask the CD, again before taping begins.

      Let the CD lead you through the audition. Remember, we are on your side and
      want you to be brilliant so that we'll look brilliant! Take your time; be
      warm, friendly, humorous and personable. Be responsive to questions on tape
      with brief comments. Don't gab on and on. Keep your answers clean: no
      politics, sex or religion.

      I cannot begin to stress the importance of how you say your name. It needs
      to be warm and friendly, possibly a little different from how everyone else
      will say their name. I have seen clients fast forward over an entire
      audition because talent didn't know how to introduce themselves! You must
      enunciate your name clearly and in a friendly manner.

      Have your script in your hand and don't argue with the CD about whether or
      not you have it memorized. Once the camera rolls, I can almost guarantee
      you, you'll forget every word. NOTE: FOR THEATRICAL AUDITIONS, YOU MUST BE
      OFF BOOK, but you must still have your sides in your hand. Make sure the
      pages are in order. Be totally prepared!

      Hold your character until you hear "Cut" and then for another second or two.
      Don't say the last word and then immediately display your disgust with your
      performance or look to the CD for approval.

      Feel free to ask if they would like to see anything else. If they say no,
      then smile, say thank you for the opportunity and leave. If they say yes,
      ask if there are any adjustments and then follow the direction given.

      If you are on a SAG audition, always be sure to sign out, particularly IF
      you have been kept more than one hour from your appointment time, not your
      arrival time. SAG requires talent be compensated for being there more than
      an hour. No such luck with non-union jobs.

      Never put down your social security number unless someone is writing you a
      check. Put down the last 4 digits or just draw a line in that column.
      Obviously never put that number on your resume, website or anywhere where
      someone could steal your identity.

      Check in with your agent after the audition, if they ask you to do so.

      Don't change anything between the audition and potential callback. This is
      not the time to get a Mohawk, shave your head, change your hair color or
      length, or lop off that facial hair.

      Leave the studio immediately after your audition. This is not a social
      hour, so leave so that you don't disturb other actors who are preparing,
      focusing and concentrating.

      I send a Feedback Sheet to the agents which covers look, energy,
      performance, direction and overall impression so that your agent will be
      kept up to date about what I am seeing.

      The audition process is nerve wracking and we all know that. But if you
      will give some thought to these guidelines, hopefully it will be a better
      and more rewarding experience for all of us.


      Copyright 2013
      Donise L. Hardy, CSA
    • Donise Hardy
      FOR WHAT IT S WORTH... I have just cast projects in Houston, Austin and Dallas. When your agent submits you, I immediately go to Actors Access to check your
      Message 2 of 2 , May 2, 2013
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        FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH...

        I have just cast projects in Houston, Austin and Dallas. When your agent
        submits you, I immediately go to Actors Access to check your resume. I was
        stunned at how many talent had not updated their resumes. On the Dallas
        job, I was restricted to very specific heights for both men and women.
        You'd be shocked at how many people I was unable to see because they didn't
        even have this simple information listed. Casters rarely have time to call
        agents for this type of information. This is your responsibility!

        It is strictly to your benefit to have a presence on Actors Access, Casting
        Networks and Now Casting. The Casting Directors have got to be able to see
        you and view your resume in order to call you in for an audition. It is
        really imperative that you appear on all 3 sites and that you keep your
        information up to date. Don't miss out on a potential audition!

        Business cards with your photo and contact information are a wonderful way
        to network. List your agent's contact information unless you are
        unrepresented. Then have your cell number and website on the card. Once
        you have an agent, all personal information goes away.

        You may wish to add personalized postcards as another way to communicate
        with the Casting Directors and/or agents you are courting for
        representation. A postcard announcing an appearance on a TV show, or in a
        soon-to-be released film or a commercial or a play is quite informative,
        impressive and useful!

        The Network Austin Mixer is held the second Wednesday of each month at Baby
        A's just north of 51st Street on the southbound frontage road of IH-35.
        For additional information contact www.networkaustinmixer.com Recent
        speakers have included a panel of coaches (January), a panel of agents
        (February) and a panel of Casting Directors (March). The meetings are open
        to all and are free. Baby A's offers Happy Hour prices on food and
        beverages until 7PM.
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