We have all heard this before. As actors attending castings I’m sure this is one of the most commonly uttered phrases we hear. It is just like we always giggle when we see a director roll their eyes as a film maker says “we’ll fix it in post” while they’re shooting (sometimes I even shudder hearing that).
The part we don’t see after they utter that brief thank you sentence and wait for their next candidate to come into the audition room, is what happens next. Over the last few years I’ve had the privilege of being in a room with Directors and Casting Directors after the talent have left for the day. I’ve made a point of attentively listening to them chatting about their selections. At other times, I’ve simply been lucky enough to see the notes written down next to their casting list. And when I see those notes I am reminded exactly why we should never take it personally.
The assumption is made when we walk into the room that we know how to act. We wouldn’t be there if we didn’t know would we. So we don’t have to concern ourselves with that. And we also know that they want one of us to be right for the part. Of course they do – that will make their life so much easier. What we don’t know is sometimes it is the simplest things that make or break it for us, and often we have nothing to do with the choice!
I once saw a Casting Directors sheet for a big budget feature and she had written notes beside each face including:
“Lovely but too sweet”
“Too tall for the lead”
“Too shy, but great look”
“Incredible! Short list”
“Too young looking”
“Looks too much like a lead”
“Already have lists of people they want to book…so let’s leave it”
I am telling you right now I hope I will never have a CD write “boring” next to my picture. But that aside, many of the other examples mentioned above have absolutely nothing to do with me. I can’t control if I look too much like the lead or I’m taller than the leading guy. If they have already been cast then everyone else is secondary and will be moved around to suit. I don’t imagine they will cast you if Ryan Gosling just doesn’t look right next to you.
Another brilliant take on the difficulty of passing the audition process is noted here by writer Ken Levine. Very succinctly put, boy are LA based actors lucky if they make it to a pilot that actually airs. The selection process is grueling: http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/
So why do I write all this? Because of the countless times I have seen actors mentally beat themselves with a four foot emotional stick for not getting that last audition. All you can do is get to the audition (turning up appears to even be a bonus these days), be prepared, dress appropriately and shine. If you do all that, and still aren’t cast, at least you know you may have made a brilliant impression & may well be considered for a future production.
Yeah so I may be too short, too pretty, too ugly, too Australian sounding and too European looking, but tomorrow there may well be a casting for just that.
You’re a B.A.B.E. so keep working it.