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Directors Chair
 
Directing the Audition
| Saturday, 08.05.2017, 10:00 AM |   (39166 views)

Peter D Marshall

Vancouver, Canada




Directing the Audition


By Peter D. Marshall


 


Casting is the "bottleneck" of the film industry. It's a place


where both sides of the table have only a few minutes to make


choices - choices that can affect all of our careers.


 


The Casting session (the "audition") can be a terrifying place


for any actor. It takes a lot of guts to walk into a small,


windowless room and have 5 - 10 minutes to "show your stuff"


in front of complete strangers.


 


But it's just as tough for the Director as well! How can we


correctly decide, in less than 10 minutes, who is right for a


particular part?


 


Actors, by the very nature of their profession, need to be


vulnerable in order to express their deepest emotions.


Remember to treat all actors with the utmost of respect - just


like your crew and the general public.


 


Also, please make sure the Reader is either an actor or at


least someone who will put an effort into reading the scene


with emotion. This will help the actor during their audition


and also give you a better idea of the actor’s abilities.


 


NOTE: Casting sessions are not just to pick actors for a role


they are also a very useful way to improve your script. When


you listen to actors performing a scene in the script, you get


a real feel for the words and how they flow when different


actors read the same scenes.


 


You can see (or hear) what works and what doesn't. It's from


the casting session that many of your script changes will


happen.


 


(1) The Audition (Casting Session)


 


1. Actors should be scheduled every 10 minutes, but some


auditions will be shorter or longer depending on the director.


 


2. When the actor comes into the room, there is usually a


cameraperson, the reader, the director, the casting director


and producers.


 


3. Before the actor begins, the cameraperson records their


name, the role they are reading for and their agency.


 


4. The director asks them if they have any questions. He


should then show them the area of the room where they can


freely move around.


 


 


5. The camera starts and the director calls action for the


first take.


 


6. The director makes an adjustment (change of objective) with


the actor.


 


7. The camera starts and the director calls action for the


second take.


 


8. The director thanks the actor. The casting director tells


them they will be contacted if there is a callback. When the


actor leaves the room, the director and producers make their


notes.


 


9. The next actor is brought in and the process repeats.


 


10. At the end of the casting session, the director, casting


director and producers compare notes and decide on a short


list for the first callback session. For this first callback


session, the director will usually want 3 - 4 actors to come


back for each role.


 


(2) Reviewing Auditions


 


The most important thing to remember when auditioning actors,


is to "Cast for performance first, and look second."


 


Whether you review the auditions just from your notes or from


looking at the tapes, here’s what to pay attention to before


deciding on who to callback:


 


1. Assessing the performance: Look at both the actor's


physical characteristics and their acting abilities


 


2. Critique the performance: Judge the strengths and


weaknesses of the actor's performance from the director's


adjustment. (Was the performance believable?)


 


3. Type casting vs performance casting: Think outside the box


when it comes to actors portraying characters


 


4. Character Relationships: Which actors could play well


together?


 


5. Decisions to be made for the callback:


- Which new scene should be used


- What qualities to look for in each actor


- Which actors are the best match (good chemistry)


- Where to raise the stakes (adjustments and subtext)


 


 


 


 


 


 


(3) First Callback


 


Callbacks are a little different than an audition. This is


where the director wants to spend more time working with the


actors. You also want to pair the actors up and watch the


chemistry between them. Budget about 10-15 minutes per


session.


 


You also want all the actors to show up at the same time so


the director can mix-and-match actors as he sees fit. And if


you can, you should also choose different scenes for them to


perform then they did for the first audition.


 


The most important job a director needs to do before a


callback, is to make a list of the actors he wants to read


together. Depending on their schedules, you want the first


actors that read for you to be the ones you are most


interested in. If they work out, those first reads are the


standard by which you can gauge the other actors’


performances.


 


1. The director tells the casting director which 2 actors he


wants for each session. When the 2 actors come into the room,


there will be a cameraperson, the casting director, the


director and the producers.


 


2. Before the actors begin, the cameraperson records their


names and the roles they are reading for.


 


3. The director asks them if they have any questions. He then


shows them the area of the room where they can move around


freely. The director may also add additional props for the


scene.


 


4. The camera starts and the director calls action for the


first take.


 


5. The director makes an adjustment (change of objectives)


with the 2 actors.


 


6. The camera starts and the director calls action for the


second take.


 


7. The director thanks the actors and asks them to go back to


the waiting room. When the actors leave the room, the director


and producers make their notes.


 


8. The director tells the producer which 2 actors he wants for


the next session. The next 2 actors are brought in and the


process repeats.


 


9. At the end of the session, the director and producers


compare notes and decide on a short list for the second


callback session. For this last session, the director will


want the top 2 actor choices to come back for each role.


 


(4) Second Callback


 


This final callback is where you now have 2 actors competing


for each role and you have paired the actors up so you can


watch the chemistry between them. Budget about 15-20 minutes


per session.


 


Like the first callback, the actors all show up at the same


time so you can mix-and-match actors as you see fit. You


should also choose two scenes for them to perform together if


possible.


 


1. The audition process is the same as the First Callback


session.


 


2. At the end of the session, the director, casting director


and producers compare notes and decide on the cast.


 


3. Always pick a second choice for each character in case your


first choice gets sick or becomes otherwise unavailable.


 


(5) What's Next?


 


After the actors have been approved, the director will want to


have a read through with them and then start the rehearsal


process.



Peter D. Marshall is a filmmaker from Vancouver, Canada, He has worked in the Film and Television Industry for over 35 years. He also publishes thfree monthly filmmaking ezine "The Director's Chair. You can check out his website at http://www.actioncutprint.com and his film directing blog at http://filmdirectingtips.com Peter can be reached at pdm@actioncutprint.com



 


 



 


 






 


 






 


 


 


 



 



 


 


 


 












 


 





 


 


 


 







 







 


 


 


 


 











 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 













 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Peter Marshall


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