Beyond the obvious things like learning your lines, what else can you do to make your audition a success?
Auditions are 90% preparation, Winston Cooper, teacher at the Academy for Film, Theatre and Television teaches his students.
‘Like most things, most of the work in an audition occurs before you get in there,’ he said.
Doing your homework before the audition gives your performance depth. You will have the necessary insight into the character and be able to project confidence on the day. Obviously you will need to have your lines down pat and arrive on time but there is more you can do to be ready.
Here are 11 tips students at AFTT learn.
1. Look the part
Go into the audition looking like the character. ‘Look at the brief and if they are in a suit, then go in a suit,’ said Cooper.
2. Don’t forget your warm up
Another thing Cooper teaches his students at AFTT in the course Acting for Stage and Screen is the importance of warming up. ‘Don’t forget to do your vocal warm up and your physical warm up,’ he said.
3. Get as much information as possible
Developing a thorough understanding of the brief you’ve been given is the necessary first step. But then you can augment this with more information to help you to really understand the character and the scene.
‘Get as much information as you can on the project – if you can have a look at the script, that’s ideal but if you can’t you just have to make do with all the information you’ve got. And really understand the world of the character, even just down to what the character wants,’ said Cooper.
4. Have a clear vision
To show that you are really committed and have done your research, Cooper suggested actors should stop being cautious and fully commit to their interpretation.
‘I think sometimes a lot of actors starting out might be a little tentative as far as, “Oh, I’m not sure if this is right.” But it is good to make some really clear choices on how you approach the character and what you’re going to show the casting people,’ he said.
‘Take a risk and back yourself - back your own choices on how to play this particular character by making some really clear well developed choices. But also understand that they are probably going to redirect you. So understand that you need to be versatile and understand that you need to take direction as well.’
5. Be in the moment
‘When you get in there make sure you are breathing. A lot of actors starting out forget to breathe when they start getting nervous. And obviously if you’re breathing, you’re going to better deal with nerves and tension,’ said Cooper.
‘The goal in the audition is to be in the moment when you are doing your audition. Because in the audition, particularly with film, they are looking for moments you can live in, that you can react and respond to in a heightened reality. So the more that you can breathe, the more you are going to stay in the moment.’
Read: Why just being able to act isn’t always enough
6. Be professional
No matter how good your performance, the impression you give as a person also counts. Actors should never underestimate the importance of making a good first impression.
‘When you go in understand that you are going in for an audition and that’s kind of like a job interview so understand it is about work. But also be generous and friendly,’ said Cooper.
7. Enjoy it
Don’t let your nerves take the joy out of the moment.
‘A really important thing to do is enjoy it. Enjoy preparing for this role, enjoy wanting to step into someone else’s shoes, enjoy the opportunity to be able to show your particular unique take on the character. You look at actors like Hugh Jackman and Meryl Streep and you can really see that these people really enjoy what they are doing.’
8. Ask the right questions
‘These are definitely things an actor can decide for themselves, but if you just get a scene in isolation and you don’t get the rest of the script a really important question to ask is “What just happened before hand?” so you are bringing the world into the scene and you’re not just starting the scene cold,’ said Cooper.
When you get in the room you can also ask questions about the script and the dynamics of the relationships involved. ‘They are really looking for you to create moments and moments are created when you’re going after relationship and the casting people can see that you’re trying to develop relationship between the two people in the scene.’
9. If you’re nervous, recognise it
‘If you’re trying to push your nerves away it actually doesn’t help you out. A good thing is to actually admit how you’re feeling and where you’re at. Then, if you understand where you’re at, it will be easier to be in the moment and breathe and easily enter into the world of the character that you are portraying,’ said Cooper.
10. Loosen up
Cooper also advises finding an outlet to help you relax beforehand, such as music.
‘I think we all have things that loosen us up before an audition. Maybe singing along in the car, or any other crazy little quirks. It’s about knowing yourself as well, so any quirks that help loosen you up, maybe it is a particular song that helps you get into the mode of the scene.’
11. Redirect attention
‘Sometimes it is good to get the attention off you. Even when you are in the waiting room, strike up conversations with people or become hyper-aware of your surroundings as you go into the audition. Try to get the attention off you because that is what you are going to try to do in the audition - you are going to try to and get involved with the other person you are talking to. That kind of disarms your nerves as well,’ said Cooper.
If you are interested in finding out more about the courses on offer at The Academy of Film, Theatre and Television visit http://www.aftt.edu.au/courses
The Essential Skills Series is brought to you by ArtsHub in partnership with the Academy of Film, Theatre and Television.