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Austin Actors
Michael Costello

A Thought About Auditioning
by Michael Costello

April 2000

It always helps me to see the other side of things. Here's a thought for you: directors and casting directors are just as nervous about auditions as actors.

The casting director wants you to do well so they will look good. If you blow it, it's like they blew. They want the producer and director to trust their judgment of talent.

As for the director, most directors I know would agree that about 85% of directing is casting; making it critical to the success of the film or the play. You've got a minute, usually less, to show your stuff and they've got the same time to gage whether you're right for the role and can pull it off.

It's not so easy. For example, there are actors who are terrible in auditions but great in performance, and others who are great in auditions and terrible in performance. Certainly, it could be as simple as terrible audition terrible actor, great audition great actor. But which actor is which. In that brief time, the director has to make a decision based on very little knowledge that will profoundly effect his film/play to a greater or lesser degree depending on the size of the role. In film, there is a lot of money involved so the director looks to minimize the risk. You may understand now why directors often cast actors they know, even when they're not necessarily the best for the role.

I'm not talking about casting major film roles. The star(s) are often on the project well before the director, and most often have a say in who the director is auditioning them. And major supporting roles are filled by actors who have a body of work that the director has seen. So the director is usually pretty aware of the kind of role that actor has played and how successful they've been. But if you're not a star or haven't played roles with high visibility, then the director is seeing you for the first time.

Try not to think of the director as omnipotent, able to see beyond your faults to the great potential hidden within. The director and casting director have their own worries. They want you to be good; they want to be able to cast you. (And for the casting director, if not in this one, then in the next one.) So the ball is in the actor's court. If you want the job, take responsibility for your own work, find a way to make an impression.

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