How to Audition for a Casting Director from Home

I’ve been finding that there are more casting directors who are open to allowing actors to shoot auditions from their home and email it for a casting. Now, it is true, in the larger markets, it’s rare for that to be able to take place but in other areas sometimes you can. So it’s important to know how to be able to do this properly, and it really doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

But you do need some equipment, and there are some very basic guidelines that you have to follow, so let me share those with you.

One of the first things that I did was I got a hold of, a fairly inexpensive camera. It’s a little digital camera, I’m not trying to promote the name of the company, just showing you what I got, and that allows me to shoot the audition. I have tripod. I also purchased a white screen that I hang on a wall, so it’s a nice, clean background. One of the problems that some people have is that they shoot with all kinds of different colors on the wall, or photographs, things that are distracting.

It’s got to be a very clean background. I also purchased some lights, so that way I can really make sure that there’s a fill on my face, that there aren’t dark shadows all over the place.

So what I did was I just went to a camera store, told them exactly what I was looking for and I purchased three lights, and what I found to be really helpful is to get the lights that do not get hot. Besides, you’ll save a lot of money on electricity, but if you are under hot lights, you will also begin to sweat, and that will create all kinds of problems. So the one other thing you’re going to need is a microphone. And what I did was I went online, I found a very inexpensive, “Audio-Technica” mic. It has a little clip here and it sounds great.

I just clipped it right up to my lapel, or my shirt, or sweater, whatever you have. Don’t worry about trying to hide it. People understand it’s an audition. Sometimes I might slide it up my shirt a little bit, just so it’s not distracting people very much as I’m doing the read. So just to, kind of, summarize what are the materials you’re going to need: you need a microphone, you need a digital camera, you need lights, you need a tripod, you need a clean wall to shoot on, or if you want to purchase an inexpensive screen that would be something else.

And make sure you have some kind of program where you can either shrink the audition so you can send them out, or find a company that will send out large files. But typically, you’re going to try to get things a little bit smaller especially, if it’s a longer audition. So basically, those are the materials you’re going to need.

Then the next step is what I’d like to do is, if I can’t memorize the sides. Sometimes what I’ll do is hold the sides, but I’ll hold it – and the sides are the words that I’m auditioning with – so sometimes I might just hold it a little bit off to the side, not quite like this, where you can actually see my hands and stuff, but it’s over to the side. That way I can glance over at it, or sometimes I’m able to actually tape it right to the tripod. And as you’re doing the scene, you’re supposed to be reading to another actor. In most cases, you are not looking directly into the lens of the camera if it’s an audition for a film or a television show, so you’ll be reading to the reader.

So what I do is sometimes I’ll just have the copy, just paste it up, so I can actually look at the copy and it’s in the same direction which is slightly off to the side of the camera. The other thing that you have to keep in mind is when, after you shoot it, you have to save and name the audition in a very specific way. Your agent will let you know. Sometimes you’re going to name the audition with your name, and then the agent’s name, or underscore the name of the character that you’re reading for, they’ll let you know all about that. And the other thing that I forgot to mention is you also have to slate. And once again, every casting director wants things differently.

Sometimes you’ll slate your name, your agency, your height, the character you’re reading for, at the beginning, sometimes at the end, sometimes they just want your name. Once again, these are questions you need to ask your agent. Also quite often, they will ask you to tilt the camera all the way down and back up, so they can see your body type. They want to get a sense of what you look like.

So after you’ve shot it, you download it. You’ve got to name it properly and then, the next step is you have to be able to send it to the casting director or the agent, depending on how it’s being sent out. Depending on how long the piece is, it could be a fairly large document. The best case scenario if you can make it small enough like under 25MB, you can actually email it, which is wonderful.

There are also other companies, and quite a few of these are free, where you can send large finals that you can’t email, and you can send those to the agent. But if there’s a way of compressing it, that’s always, better. You never want to upload it to YouTube and send a link, because number one, the scene hasn’t been shot yet and I can tell you that the producers will not be happy about having their material out on the web before the scene has been shot. So you definitely want to send people the actual audition.

So anyhow, I just want to share that information with you. I use it pretty regularly; but still, I much prefer auditioning in person. But there are times where I simply physically can’t make it to that place. Either I’m booked out the day of the audition or it is just simply too far to travel to make it in time for the audition.

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  • Patrick Durfee

    Sounds like you’re right on the money. Recently I auditioned for a role, and the casting director requested applicants to submit their home-made audition clips. The instructions I received were almost to-the-letter what you posted here. No mention was made of how to name the file, but I was asked to slate at the end, including my name, representation, the part I was auditioning for, and my height. I had a friend help set it up and do the shoot, and I read to him. By the time we got the shot we liked, I had the lines memorized. This leads me to an interesting thought: Would you think that those submitting home-made auditions have a bit of an advantage over walk-ins? After all, a walk-in may only get one or two takes, while you can do as many as you want at home.

  • Aaron Marcus

    Hi Patrick, you make a great point about being able to send the best audition when you record it from home.

    The only real advantage, and I think it is even more important than being able to send in your best audition is to be able to ask the casting director specific questions during the audition. I always prefer to read for the casting director in his/her office. The casting person has more information about the character than I will have after getting the sides.

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