In episode 27 of Casting Frontier’s Bring It! series, casting veteran James Levine and session director/actor Charles Carpenter spell out what not to say to the session director during an audition. James defines a session director as “the camera operator-director who’s been entrusted with the information that you need to have a successful audition, and they have to see one hundred people today.” The job includes going over the blocking, displaying the dialogue board as well as emphasizing the essentials of what the director is seeking.

 Session directors like Charles have seen it all—actors demonstrating great skill and professionalism as well as those who, for one reason or another, eliminate themselves from moving forward in the casting process. The way actors choose to treat the session director matters; in fact, it can determine whether they remain in contention for the role. 

With that in mind, here are some practices to avoid:

  • Avoid asking the session director a lot of questions when the information has already been provided. As previously noted, the session director has to see a large number of actors and has only a limited amount of time with each one. So make sure to do your part before you enter the room.
  • Don’t say, “What’s taking so long? You’re slow,” when the session director is encountering technical difficulties. Please be patient.
  • Don’t minimize the opportunity to audition by saying, “This is just a commercial; I’m a theatrical actor.”
  • Don’t disrespect the session director, stating, “You’re just a camera operator. Why are you giving me this direction?”
  • Don’t walk out of the audition room in response to being given direction you don’t want to hear.
  • Do not say, “Can you move? You’re in my eyeline.” The session director needs to be stationed by the equipment; he or she is operating it.
  • Don’t show up with a beard and refuse to shave even though the role requires a clean-shaven face.

On the other hand, here are practices that work on the actor’s behalf:

  • Just as you want to be respected by the session director, give him or her respect as well. 
  • Receive direction with a spirit of gratitude.
  • Thank the session director for his or her time before exiting.

When an actor is a pleasure to work with, the session director takes note of it and passes along the good review to the casting director. Charles insists, “We will go and tell the casting director, ‘Hey … I worked with a great actor today; he was fantastic. You gotta call him in for other stuff.” Indeed, casting directors are not always able to be present in the audition room, and they look to their session directors for the scoop on individual actors.

Charles sums up the importance of respectful interactions, saying, “The bottom line is this: It’s a collaborative art form. Actors work with casting in order to tell the best story so they can go out and get the product sold. We all work together. We’re all a team. We all want the best for each other.”

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. 

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