Actor Tips: Lessons from a Casting Director Workshop

Mighty Tripod Productions, Seattle

We hosted Paul Weber, CSA this month, and his The Art of the Audition the Business of the Art workshop was fantastic!

Below are some of my favorite Paul Weber quotes from the workshop. Enjoy!

  • “There is no excuse for being a boring, uninteresting actor.”
  • “I want you to make a difference when you are up there.”
  • “Lift the material off of the page. We [casting directors] need actors who can elevate the dialogue.”
  • “We look for actors who take the same words as everyone else and make them interesting and fresh.”
  • “Be an educated and interested actor. Talk to the casting director about their work.”
  • “We are in a golden age of television.”
  • “Sometimes, just throw the line away. Don’t make a meal of it.”
  • “Lead the casting director down the road you want them to take with your headshot and resume’.”
  • “Sexiness is equal to being really good at what you do.”
  • “Don’t have a cluttered resume’; white spaces are okay.”
  • “Give your agent something to pitch.”

Now, let me expand on these words of wisdom:

Actor, don’t be boring. Be specific. Sure, sometimes a “quiet, small, still, and intense” performance is compelling, but make sure it’s the performance that is shining through, not nerves getting in the way of choices, and always look for variety to keep your audience engaged.

Casting directors want us to succeed. After all, they have been hired to find great actors, so the sooner they can find a good fit for their client, the better! They are rooting for you and want you to excel. And, they want to be entertained, moved, and wowed, so give it your all and make a difference!

Sometimes, you have to be better than the writing or attack the dialogue in a fresh and fun way that is unique to you. Study the scene, then lift the words off of the page with your skill, precision, and passion.

Before you go into an audition, learn as much as you can about the casting director, producer, and director. If possible, find out who will be in the room, and when applicable, engage with them about their work. IMDB is a great place to conduct research.

TV is hot right now, so when you get an opportunity to audition for a television show, again, do your research – watch the show, know the style – and then prepare accordingly!

If you are auditioning for an under-5 role (fewer than five lines, total, in the script), make a choice about how you are going to play the scene, but don’t overdo it. Remember, it’s not about you with these types of roles; you’re there to support the story. And, remember, not everything in your script is as important as the next, so know what to highlight and what to throw away a bit.

If you have more than one headshot, submit the most appropriate one for the role you are submitting for. And, always provide a resume’ that is most relevant to the project you are auditioning for – you can always move credits up or down, depending on how you want to present your past work.

You don’t have to be a classic beauty or a hardened hunk to be sexy. Confidence is sexy. Talent is sexy. Bold choices are sexy.

You don’t have to put every single credit on your resume’. Put the most important (project specific) at the top, and leave some white. And, avoid super tiny font!

Build that resume’ and work on your reel so your agent can pitch you with confidence!

Thanks for reading and stay inspired,

David

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