Like learning to avoid touching a stovetop because it’s hot, sometimes it helps to learn what not to do, so you can better understand what to do. In episode 28 of Casting Frontier’s Bring It! series, casting veteran James Levine and session director/actor Charles Carpenter reveal the “lamest questions” they hear in the audition room. If that sounds a bit harsh, please understand they’re sharing this information because they want all actors to shine and remain in contention for the role, rather than stand out for an unprofessional attitude amongst the competition.

With that in mind, here are some of the audition-room questions that are, as James says, “not to be repeated.”

  • “When are the callbacks?”  It’s customary for the callback date to be posted just outside the audition room. In these instances, casting has already made an effort to communicate with each actor before he or she enters the audition room—specifically to avoid wasting time by having to answer the same question over and over again. So, James and Charles urge actors to pay attention and avoid asking the casting director or session director questions about information that’s already been provided. 
  • “Could I watch that back?” When making self-tapes at home, actors can watch playbacks of their performances and do as many takes as they wish. But at casting facilities, all of that goes out the window. Due to the high volume of actors coming in for auditions, casting cannot afford the time to replay takes for actors. And for the sake of argument, even if they had the time, it still wouldn’t be appropriate. The expectation is for actors to do the allotted number of takes and then to leave. Asking for more communicates neediness.
  • “Can I ask you a question?” If actors have a productive question for casting, they should come right out with it and ask. Prefacing it with, “Can I ask you a question?” can rub casting the wrong way because, even if the casting director responds in the affirmative, that one inquiry was already used up with this unnecessary question, and now the actor is going in for a second one. So, it’s better to cut to the chase and ask the real question–the one that’s most important.
  • “My sister’s outside. Can she come in for this? Just to watch.” Auditioning is a collaborative effort in which casting director, session director, and actor work together efficiently and productively. Asking to have someone come in and watch the audition is an example of a counterproductive question. 

 

Casting directors often see the above-mentioned questions as a red flag. Indeed, it’s their job to weed out performers who are likely to waste time or behave unprofessionally while on set, should they book the job. 

But this isn’t to say that talent cannot or should not ask questions while auditioning. That’s restrictive and goes too far. In fact, certain kinds of questions actually communicate a professional attitude and keep actors in the running for the part. So, do ask questions that are relevant, move the audition moving forward, and help bring dimension to the character.

Here are some beneficial questions to ask in the audition room …

  • “What’s my eye line?”
  • “What’s my frame?”
  • “Can I play with the material? Can I add a couple tags?”
  • “This character—she’s competitive, right?”

Remember: Be confident, be specific, and be professional.

Determined to help actors cut through the mystery associated with the casting process, James Levine authored an enlightening book titled Bring It! along with Charles Carpenter and Jim Martyka, which will be released digitally in the near future. In the book, Levine shares helpful audition information from the vantage point of a casting director as it relates to commercial, film, and television acting. 

Casting Frontier’s YouTube channel publishes weekly video tips, tricks, best practices, and interviews with industry professionals. Tune in each week for the latest valuable insights—or better yet, subscribe now.

Comments

comments