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What Auditions Look Like During Lockdown

By Marci Liroff

Photo Source: Margaux Quayle Cannon

In light of the pandemic, I am offering special pricing for my private coaching (remotely of course!) You can buy a steeply reduced package now and use it later (must be used before the end of 2020) Check out the info here.

Every once in a while, I poll my followers on Twitter to see what they’d like me to talk about in this column. Overwhelmingly, the most popular topic this week was what things will look like when we go back to work. As I don’t have a crystal ball, I can only speculate based on my experience in the industry (and the knowledge we have today about COVID-19)—but here goes!

I’ve researched shooting protocols from all over the world to see how they are handling filming in the pandemic. All the protocols suggest that auditions take place virtually. This means that actors will be submitting self-taped auditions upon request. We’ve been using self-taped auditions for years, but using this method 100% of the time is all-new territory.

If you haven’t already sorted out how to self-tape at home, now is definitely the time.

I’ve written a step-by-step guide for reference that you can find on my website entitled “How to Self-Tape Your Audition Like a Rockstar.” We do not expect professional quality self-tapes. You do not have to go to a studio and pay for this service. Make sure to check your sound and lighting ahead of time so that we can see and hear you clearly. Another often overlooked element of the self-tape is to have a good reader reading off camera and positioned right next to your tripod.

Personally, if possible,  I’ll always choose to be in the room with the actor so that I can get a real-life take on their essence. I really like and depend on the interaction we have being face-to-face. In addition, I want to be able to give direction and insight into the role to see if the actor can integrate my direction into their take and make the proper adjustments. That becomes difficult, but not impossible, over Skype, Zoom, or other video platforms.

I’ve been doing auditions on Skype for the last several years. Now I’m using the We Audition site and Zoom to virtually audition actors. I can invite my director into the “room”, and she can give direction in real time, and we can record and save the audition. We can also put two or more actors together while they are in separate locations so they can read together – almost like a virtual chemistry read.

I’ve heard several commercial casting offices are having in-person auditions lately. I am extremely opposed to this. At press time, Florida is clocking record-high virus infections, California is backtracking its timeline for opening, and cases nationwide are on the rise. Having live auditions now preys on actors’ financial vulnerability, as they’ve been out of work for months. Many are willing to risk their health and possibly their lives to come on an audition, and that’s just plain dangerous and wrong. We do not have a handle on the virus yet. Why put yourself, your staff, and actors in danger?

Most if not all of my TV and film casting director colleagues say they will continue hosting virtual auditions until there’s a safe and effective vaccine. SAG-AFTRA is also currently suggesting that all auditions remain virtual for now. In short: I highly recommend that you stay put and create auditions from the safety of your home.

Make sure to check out my online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions. Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.

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