Use Your Intuition during Casting Calls

September 6, 2012

“I feel there are two people inside of me: me and my intuition. If I go against her, she’ll screw me every time, and if I follow her, we get along quite nicely.” — Kim Bassinger

Vanity Fair magazine ran a cover story this month alleging the Church of Scientology conducted sham auditions for a bogus training video in order to find and vet a girlfriend for Tom Cruise after his breakup with Academy Award winning actress Nicole Kidman.
Although church leaders and Tom Cruise himself claim the story is false, there are lessons to be learned from this highly publicized contretemps. The sad truth is Hollywood is rife with stories of lecherous producers, illegitimate productions, and casting-couch auditions gone bad. It is your responsibility to carefully consider every audition you’re invited to attend, and make wise decisions in pursuit of your career goals. So what are some of the warning signs you as an actor should be aware of while scouring the call list? Generally speaking, auditions held in cheap motels, apartment buildings, dorm rooms, or Winnebagos should be considered suspect. At the same time, if you’re looking to build your resume and gain experience, there may very well be an earnest, talented, resourceful auteur who’s perfectly legit, yet working out of his parents’ basement. Be sure to do your research by calling the contact number or emailing the production account. If things seem copasetic and you want to attend the try out but you’re still not sure it’s a proper audition, don’t hesitate to bring a friend along (preferably a male friend with some martial arts training).

There may be other auditions that aren’t so obviously fraudulent. They might be held at permissible locations with legitimate budgets, but nonetheless they may be corrupt. For instance, if you’re asked to disrobe with no prior warning or information about nudity from the audition notice, that’s a big red flag. Or even if you’re asked about any intimate details of your personal or sex life, chances are something’s wrong. Now, if the project in question is sexually explicit, the casting director is certainly well within his or her rights to ask what you would be comfortable with in terms of nudity and sexual situations–but otherwise, questions about your personal life are off limits. Additionally, be careful with green screen auditions. Green screen technology is very powerful and allows for tremendous variety of image content; in other words, your audition could be used out of context and in ways you did not intend. If you are asked to read in front of a green screen, you might inquire if the producers intend to use your audition footage in any other project outside the domain of an audition. If they intend to use it for a trailer, background imagery, or behind-the-scenes footage for instance, you want to be in the position to give your approval or walk away.

Most importantly, trust your gut. In terms of self-preservation, it’s the most important tool you have. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Go out there and be bold; but be cautious as well.