This post may contain affiliate links, so I may receive a commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Check out the disclosure for more info. And thank you for supporting free content!
For the foreseeable future, in-person auditions are a thing of the past. While self-tapes have been around for more that a decade, (yes, really… and they literally use to be on tape!), overnight they have become the industry norm. What’s new is virtual auditions. These are auditions held live, but over Zoom or another video platform.
There are both huge advantages and disadvantages to being in the audition room in-person, and doing it virtually. In-person means a much bigger time commitment, maybe taking time off work, driving and parking. And sitting in the waiting room with a bunch of other actors that look like you can be nerve wracking! Not to mention the in-room audition jitters.
While we’re all more comfortable at home, you don’t get the benefit of meeting everyone face to face, having a professional and standardized set-up and connecting with other actors.
Here are some steps to help you set up your space and your equipment and audition like a pro.
1. Set-up the “set”
If you haven’t done so already, figure out a place in your home that is going to be best suited to doing your audition. The standard is to use a portable backdrop or a blank wall, but depending on the scene, you may want to have your room in the background. Be careful to keep it clean and uncluttered and limit the personal items – we all love to look! Also, glass picture frames can create a glare and be distracting. Remember, the most important thing is your work, not showing off your cool place.
2. Check the lighting.
Poor lighting can absolutely kill your audition! Casting wants two main things: to be able to see you and hear you. Ideally, you live in a beautiful well-lit place with lots of windows and can do this at the perfect time if day. But since life is seldom ideal, make sure you have a reasonably consistent light source. Stay away from back lighting and face a window if you can. It’s also really worthwhile to invest in an inexpensive ring light or studio light just for this purpose. You can find my personal lighting recommendations here.
3. Wire up for sound.
Like I said, casting directors really need to see you and hear you. While smart phones are completely okay for auditioning purpose, just do a quick mic check and check your sound quality. If it sounds too hollow or echoey, consider buying a low-cost lav mic just for audition purposes. Pro Tip: An extra long cord really helps! Then you’re not tethered super close to your phone. Again, you can find my personal recommendations here.
4. Test beforehand.
Just as you’ve rehearsed the rest of your audition, do a couple of run throughs checking your equipment. This isn’t only camera, mic and lights, but if it’s a Zoom audition be sure to check your internet connection! If you can hardwire in with ethernet cable, great. If not, always reboot your computer beforehand to clear any memory and do a quick speed check at speedtest.net. If you are using an app or platform that is unfamiliar to you for the audition, same thing, check it out first. This is a huge bonus when doing the audition, because live and in-person you never get that kind of opportunity to try it “on-set” so to speak.
5. Quiet on set!
Try to find a place for your audition that is away from as many household noises as possible. Family members, roommates, pets and kids making cameo appearances can be really cute and funny in blooper reels, but chances are they’ll throw you completely off your game! Also be mindful of things like a noisy refrigerator running, smoke detector beeping, laundry machines and air conditioners. The noise may go unnoticed in day to day life, but it can completely take over your audition.
6. Turn off all notifications.
This is a biggie that most people forget. Many good takes have been interrupted and ruined by text messages or email coming in. Turn off all notifications on your cell phone and computer, including social media and app notifications. One little message flashing across the screen can instantly derail your focus, and it’s just not worth blowing an audition over!
Self-tapes and virtual auditions are here to stay. Actors who fine tune their set-ups now are going to be miles ahead in the months to come.
As always, if you like it or love it… share it, pin it, post it tweet it!! Send it to an actor friend … it’s a tough business and we could all use a little help!