Casting Director Lucy Bevan’s Audition Room Tips

June 7, 2017

Acclaimed casting director Lucy Bevan boasts a long and impressive resume which includes casting for Maleficent, Cinderella, Jungle Book, and more recently Beauty and the Beast. Based in London, she selects talent for British independent films, theater, television as well as American studio films. Her early work includes the British comedy film St Trinian’s in which she cast Gemma Arterton, Paloma Faith, Russell Brand, and Lilly Cole in their first feature roles. Among her other casting treasures is Tom Hiddleston who she placed in his first feature, Unrelated; of course, Hiddleston is now known by so many as the dark trickster, Loki. “There was just a fantastic confidence about him,” Bevan insists. She also cast Eddie Redmayne in his first film, Like Minds after seeing him perform in the play The Goat. When reflecting on what qualities she notices in the actors who “make it,” she says: “An important thing is that there is something of themselves that shines out. Often you go to drama schools and you see people doing a version of Judy Dench or Jim Broadbent or Kenneth Branagh, but my attention is grabbed by the people who just have a really strong sense of themselves. When there’s something unique about them and you can really see that coming out.”

MixKnowledgy recently asked Lucy Bevan what practices actors might want to avoid when entering the audition room. She answered that while many actors exhibit acting mastery, those abilities are distinctly different from auditioning skills. “That’s another set of skills that I think is as important to learn because, in order to be brilliant at your job once you’ve got a part, you’ve got to get the part in the first place.” Here are a few of the audition tips she mentioned.

Come in cleanly; leave cleanly

The first basic tip is to show up on time. Now, sometimes the journey of traveling across town to the audition doesn’t go as smoothly as planned. In such instances, she suggests that actors avoid making excuses. Bevan puts it this way: “If you happen to be late because something went wrong or there was a traffic nightmare or whatever, I don’t want to hear about it. Leave all of that stuff out the door. So for a start, I wouldn’t even know if someone was late sometimes because I didn’t do the scheduling; my assistant does it. And an actor will come in and be, ‘I’m so sorry,’ and, ‘Oh my goodness, traffic was this or that’ –and I’m already bored. I don’t want to hear about it. You know, I’ve been seeing actors all day, I’m busy, I want to work, I want to get to the point…Be disciplined. Come in cleanly; leave cleanly.” Likewise, she is a firm believer in not trying to prolong the audition in any way. “When it’s over, it’s time to go, thank you very much, shake your hand, off you go … leave all your suitcases and your bags, and your cups of coffee, leave that all downstairs or somewhere else or outside.”

The most important thing for her to know during an audition

Regarding the audition performance, Bevan says, “Be really prepared with the scene that you’ve got. Be prepared so that you’re ready to take notes and make adjustments. So you read the scene with me and I think it’s good. But what I want to know for this actor is: Can they take direction? It’s the most important thing for me to know.” Thus, actors need not doubt their performance if the casting director asks them to try the material in a different way. Instead, they can demonstrate the vital Thespian skill of versatility.

Keep small parts real

Bevan notices that small speaking roles, which might seem simple, can actually present an unexpected challenge for trained actors. “So often when you’ve put your three years of training into this one short scene, I think small parts are very difficult to audition because it’s so easy to do too much with a small amount of dialogue. And just remember … when you’re reading the scene, listen and respond. In other words, if I’m reading them with you, listen to the dialogue with the other person, and then respond so that you keep it real,” she advises.

Bevan’s career path was largely driven by her eagerness to put herself out there, roll up her sleeves, listen to the casting legends whom she assisted, and take risks. In turn, she encourages aspiring actors to likewise be proactive. “Don’t wait for someone to come and give you permission,” she asserts. Actors can take matters into their own hands by setting up their own theater company, making short films with friends, and getting involved with theater. “Work begets more work. Just crack on. Then opportunities will come your way.”

 

Casting Tips For Your First Project

May 13, 2016

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Are you planning to produce a commercial, web series, film or TV show this year?

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Contrary to popular belief, actors are not (always) desperate to be in your project. You want the best actors, don’t you? Great actors don’t struggle to find work. Work finds them.

Here are some general guidelines to assist anyone that wants the best cast they can get for their project.

Friends

You will benefit greatly by avoiding the most common error first-time producers make. Don’t just give the parts to your friends. Hold auditions and let them earn the roles. They’ll feel better and you’ll have the best cast. You’re not really a producer until you’ve told some of your friends that they didn’t get the part. Anyone can hire his or her friends. Sometimes the hardest part of casting is not hiring your friends.

Costs

There are plenty of perks that do not cost a dime. Nice billing goes a long way; so does a serious commitment to delivering back end profit participation. Something as simple as a contractual agreement to delivering footage to an actor in a timely manner will show actors that you plan to have a long-term relationship with them. Feed them well. Doesn’t have to be costly, just don’t serve up fast food every day.

Casting Director

Get a casting director. You have nothing to lose by asking around for a hungry casting director as many of them will cast a commercial or short film to mentor a young filmmaker. There are also casting associates and assistants around who would love a casting director credit.

Auditions

Auditions are your first impression. Make a good one. Your goal is to make every actor want to be in your project so that you will have your choice of the top talent. Actors want to see that the people running the production know what they’re doing. Be confident and think ahead about the questions that may come up about the script, the characters and the scenes.

When you call actors in to an audition, provide them with the entire script. This will help them understand tone and content. It will also show them that you understand how their process works. It is possible to audition with only sides, but if you want actors to do their best, give them all the tools. Besides, “no script” makes it seem like it’s a bad script.

Choose sides wisely. Consider how much time you will want with actors and read each scene out loud to know how long they take. The more actors you see, the greater your choices. You do not want your casting sessions to run long because you didn’t calculate times properly.

Only hold callbacks if you need to hold callbacks. Justify this with new sides or by pairing the actors up to check for chemistry. Don’t just call actors back because you are indecisive.

Etc.

A little water goes a long way. For $3.00 you can provide water for the entire casting session. Can’t afford trailers? No problem. Private rooms will suffice. You want your cast to have a quiet space so they can be at their best.

There are many ways to complicate the casting process. Use these guidelines and you can avoid most of them.

Post free casting calls for your projects anytime at Casting Frontier.

 

Diversity in Casting and its Evolutionary Path

September 9, 2015

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Casting Diversity

There is no denying that history has shown us the type of actors that usually get cast are beautiful, heroic people. The classic girl next door or chiseled leading man are destined for a place in most scripts. However, with today’s ever changing society and force for acceptance, television and movies are now highlighting the not-so-typical- form.

The award winning casting director of Netflix’s hit series, Orange Is the New Black, shares her views on the casting world. Having made her start working on Law and Order, Jennifer Euston believes that the world of TV has developed. Typically only getting to read a pilot episode before casting, she approaches her job with natural instincts and her love of everyday people.

Beauty in Every Shape and Size

Euston states that “you do your best to sort of offer alternatives, if you can” when recommending actors. When she gets the ability to work with a script that features “strong women writing about shapes and sizes and ages and color”, she accepts the responsibility of finding the perfect match.
By selecting leading actors from a diverse spectrum, series gain individual characteristics. Showcasing quintessential actors is a thing of the past! Differing the cast and varying body types personalizes a show and can therefore add extreme value to a production. It is not to say that the typical cast of perfect bodies no longer has a place in the industry. It simply means that the business is evolving and is including actors that might commonly have been “small roles” as main characters. Reoccurring personalities are finding their niche in varied natures.

The Future of Casting

As shows slowly start to incorporate a broader range of characters, the industry develops and opens doors for both actors and plots. Accepting the unorthodox as a valid storyline will continue to engage viewers and discuss important societal topics. Refusing the fact that everyone longs to relate to another will deny the entertainment industry a chance to thrive. By acknowledging the sheer talent and transparency of such attributes, the pageantry behind casting calls may start to disintegrate.

The truth is evident in Euston’s words, “I don’t think it’s a trend. It’s evolutionary. It’s successful.” An audience wants someone to reveal what they might not be able to reveal by themselves. The expanding industry offers writers a chance to create intriguing personalities and expose new faces as they flaunt their flair.

Casting Opportunities for Villains

September 30, 2012

“Playing bad guys is more fun; you can get away with more, and you can say anything.” – Denzel Washington

Have you ever wanted to play the villain? You know, the Wicked Witch of the West, the Man in the Black Hat, Lizzie Borden, the Headless Horseman, or the Phantom of the Opera? Well, do it! The fall season gives you, aspiring actor, plenty of opportunities to get your spook on. There are hayrides and haunted houses and mazes and zombie walks and any number of dark, ghoulish, gothic adventures you might explore. Local theatre and community groups need volunteers every year to scare the bejeezus out of giggling children and skittish adults. How about getting your acting class buddies together to enact one of Shakespeare’s scary scenes; he’s got plenty of them, and you can’t go wrong this time of year with Macbeth! Or wouldn’t it be fun to read one of Edgar Allan Poe’s spine-tingling stories at a coffee shop or your local library? The public is hoping you will transform just another typical eventless Halloween into a truly memorable, enthralling occasion!

Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

Listen, you’re an actor, and you need training; you need to act. The Halloween season gives license to explore the dark side without seeming too creepy, because everyone’s doing it! You won’t look so weird entering a venue in a black cape and fedora, as it’s the time of the season when these things occur—and are indeed welcome.

The ancient Roman playwright Terence wrote, “I am a man, nothing human is foreign to me.” So, get in touch with your dark side; we all have one, and it will come in handy when you’re up against Anthony Hopkins for your next role!

Anthony Hopkins, Silence of the Lambs