4 Actor Pet Peeves About Auditions

And How to Fix Them!

by Tamar Kummel

I’ve been an actor [throat clearing] of a number of years. I started by doing theater in New York City, and then, started doing more film work in New York City and Los Angeles. I had so many poorly run auditions, it prompted me to write the book, “How to Run Auditions” (available everywhere).

If you want the BEST actors (And, why wouldn’t you?), then you have to run the best auditions. Because otherwise, no one will want to work for you! So, here are 4 no-no’s to avoid and some quick fixes:

[1] Having a Terrible Reader/Audition Partner.

A great reader knows the scene well and isn’t trying to compete with the actor auditioning. You want the reader to give just enough to help the actor. Not push the actor in any direction. If they push, you’ll have every auditionee sound exactly the same. Or you’ll have frustrated actors that are pushing back and aren’t spontaneous. Neither of which you want.

I had an audition once where they said they wanted me to improvise a scene with one of them. That person had clearly never done improvisation a day in their life. They proceeded to tell me the entire scene to do, how to do it, and what to say. That’s not improvisation. That’s me re-writing your audition scene for you, and I don’t appreciate it! If you decide to have an actor improvise, be really clear on what you’re trying to accomplish (seeing if the person can roll with punches, has a good sense of humor, a sense of the character, plays well with others, etc.), and please have an experienced person doing the scene with the actor.

[2] The Audition is at an Apartment or Weird Space.

Please people. In these times of #metoo and more, have a professional space, with a desk, with quiet. No hotels. No apartments. Audition studios can be very noisy and crowded, and if you have a quiet, thoughtful piece that requires an emotional response from your actors, you must create a safe space for them.

[3] Waiting Until the Very Last Minute to Give Them Their Scenes.

Say you have to perform a piece in front of an audience. Do you want to be handed a script five minutes before? Or do you want time to learn it, digest it, think about it, come up with fun bits or back story? Well, the audition is our performance. Only one person gets the job. So, don’t stress us out! Get us the sides as far in advance as possible. Otherwise, you will have actors that are either really great at doing cold reads, or actors that appear to not be able to act at all. You want the actors that are prepared and are already thinking about your project. So, give them a chance to prepare!

[4] Not Knowing Your Timeline.

This is basic stuff. How can you audition actors if you don’t know when the shoot is, when the rehearsals or performance are, when callbacks are? Put ALL the dates in the ad. Don’t waste your time seeing people that won’t be available when your production is. And please don’t waste our time either.

Now go get yourself the best actors!


Pictured above:
Tamar Kummel. Photo Courtesy Of MaverickSean.com Photography


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