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What Do Casting Directors Look For In Auditions? (Its 6 Things!)

When you are looking for work as an actor, the most important person is the casting director. The casting director is the doorway to your success. 

Probably you know that but what do casting directors look for in auditions? If you don’t know that, you might end up losing a lot of gigs even if you are the best actor in the world. 

There are a number of things casting directors look for in auditions like how much you resemble the character, uniqueness, people skills,  improvisation, and acting technique. 

Let’s look at each factor in detail, so that the next time you go for the auditions you know what to expect from a casting director and what he or she expects from you as an actor. 

What Do Casting Directors Look For In Auditions?

Here we are going to look at each factor a casting director looks for in auditions. I have curated the list from my experience, observation and whatever interaction I have had with casting directors. 

1. The Character

Many actors have the illusion that the casting directors are looking for the best looking actor for the role. But it’s not true. 

Casting directors are always given clear instructions by the producer or the director of the project. These instructions clearly tell the casting director what the character looks like, how he or she speaks, or behaves. 

So the actors who fulfill these requirements, only those actors should be considered for the part. 

So all the time casting directors are looking for the actor that resembles the characters. 

What can you do to provide what the director is looking for?

Build character worksheet

The first thing you should do before going to the casting director is to learn what they are looking for. 

Usually when they call talent for auditions, they provide a brief about what they are looking for. Read the brief carefully and try to find the similarity between the character and you. 

First and foremost thing you should look for is if the character looks like you or not. 

The brief usually has the ethnicity, height, weight and the background of the character. If it isn’t clearly mentioned, you can call the casting assistant or your agent to find out these things. 

If the character looks like you, you are good to go. The casting director won’t reject you for your looks. 

However, if the look is not what they are looking for then I suggest be yourself and go for the audition because there are plenty other things that directors look for. 

2. Behavior 

People have the illusion that they are artists, and they don’t have to be like other professionals. 

You think being moody is cool for an actor!  You will lose so many auditions and roles just because of your behavior. 

I say be a professional and good human being first and then be an actor. 

What shows that you are a good human being?

There are a few things you can keep in mind so that you do not come across as unprofessional.

First, always be on time. That is the most important thing for an actor. By being on time you are not only doing favor to the casting agent but also to yourself. 

By saving  time you can go for more auditions on the same day. You can attend more classes or do more things during the day. Also you have more spare time in your hand.

Second thing you can do is be polite. If you look around, some of the most successful actors are the most down to earth people. 

They may not be as talented as the other actors but just because they are great human beings they are on top of their profession. 

One example that comes to my mind is Dwyane Jonshon aka “the rock”. 

He was not an actor. He comes from a wrestling background.

But since he is the most professional and kindest person you can meet in your life, he is successful even in acting. 

3. Acting Skill 

Many of you might have thought acting skill is the first priority when you go for auditions. But no. It is the third most important thing casting directors look for in auditions. 

This is not what I think but this is what people working in casting agencies say. I have asked many casting agents and directors about this. Most of them have put acting skills after character and behavior. 

Wherever may the acting skills stand, it is important and you have to be the best among the best to get noticed. 

Most of the casting directors won’t care about what kind of acting technique you use. They just want actors to perform the piece the way they need it. 

It has to be flawless and according to the brief!

At least when you perform for the first time, stick to the brief if it’s given. If the casting director likes your performance, he might suggest a few things to you and ask you to go again. 

Follow the directions and go again. 

I suggest you do your homework. Most of the time you get a brief few days prior to auditions, do your preparations. 

I suggest using my 100 question worksheet to build character. It will make your job much easier even when the casting director gives you a free hand and asks you to improvise. 

Also I suggest having a routine that helps you prepare for the auditions. Develop a complete process for preparing for auditions. 

And ofcourse daily practice goes a long way. Practice monologues and scenes  regularly. 

4. Body Language 

I consider body language part of acting skill but since I want to explain it in more details I created a separate section for it.

To begin with, going into body language let’s clear the air around having body language like a real hero. That won’t work or create an impression on the casting director.

You have to understand that there are two separate body languages you carry in your audition. One is your own and the other is the character’s body language. 

Although casting direction looks for the character’s body language in your personal real body language. If they find it, it will play to your advantage but if not then what should you do?

You know they are looking for a character’s body language in you. So you will have to prepare for it well in advance. 

Again to develop a body language I suggest getting my 100 question worksheet to build character. Just click here to get it. Using this you will be able to develop body language. 

Practice body language at home. 

Once you do that, here is the trick to grab the casting director’s attention. 

When you enter the place of audition don’t be in character from the start. Let the director see who you are as a person. Keep the body language normal. 

As soon as you go in front of the camera for the performance, switch to the character. Be the character from every inch of your body.

What this transformation does is it creates an impact on the casting director or agent. If you have been the same throughout your meeting, it won’t differentiate you from other actors. 

So, transformation is the key to creating an impact. 

However, ensure you do not want to change your own body language to make this kind of transformation. If you are close to character in real life, do not change. Be the way you are. 

5. Unique Skills

Here I am not talking about acting skills. I am talking about the skills your character has. 

Nowadays films are close to real life and the makers want their actors to be as real as possible.

If your character is a singer, they want you to sing. If the character is a painter, they want you to paint. If your character is a boxer, they want you to be a real boxer. 

Most of the time casting directors do get brief about hiring an actor with certain real skills. These skills can be anything under the sun. So there is no way you can prepare for it.

But what you can do is whatever skills you have as a person, please highlight them in your portfolio as well in your showreels. So that casting director knows what skills you have will remember it if such roles present itself in future.

Also one thing you can do is try to learn some skills that you enjoy in your free time. 

6. Improvisation 

If you are an actor improvisation has to be your strong suit otherwise you will lose out on many opportunities because of it. 

You will do a good job when you have time to prepare for the part but the business of acting is such that everything happens so quickly and on the spot you have to be on your toes. 

I have heard the story many times where actors have gone for an audition for a part but the casting director gives the actor some other part to perform because he or she thinks it’s the best for them. 

In such situations improvisation is your best friend as you have no time to do your usual preparation.  

However,  you just can’t perform the way you wish.  You have to pay attention to the instructions that you have been given. 

You can go to our post about improvisation by clicking here. I have described the best exercises to approach improvisation in detail. 

If you do the exercises regularly you will be able to improvise anything that is thrown at you.

Another advice I would like to give you is to ask as many questions as possible about the character. So that while performing you can use most of it. However, I suggest don’t be afraid to add something new. 

7. Remember Your Lines

I understand you might be very eager to perform and show what you have are made up of but never forget the basics. 

Please ensure that  you remember the lines if you have the script in advance. And even if they provide you the script just a few minutes before the audition you should know how to remember the lines. 

There are a lot of ways that you can remember the lines. But the best way that I prefer is to visualize what has been said. 

Good thing about the lines is that you are always showing pictures to the listener and it is always easy to visualize the lines. 

Always pay close attention to where the change of thought occurs in the lines. Mark those places and know what caused the change. 

Basically you have to know the thought and the intention behind the lines. 

If you want to learn more about different techniques to memorize lines I suggest you look at our amazing post that shows 4 different techniques to memorize lines. Please click here to visit the post. 

Final Thought

I have listed these important points about what casting directors look for in auditions based on my experience. You can always improvise on what I have said and if you want you can share your experience with us by commenting below so that other actors can learn from you. 

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