Marci Liroff’s extensive credits as a casting director span more than 50 films.
While working at the renowned casting office of Fenton-Feinberg Casting she, along with Mike Fenton, cast such films as Bob Clark’s A Christmas Story and Porky’s; the Academy Award-nominated Poltergeist; Steven Spielberg’s E.T.- The Extra Terrestrial and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.
After establishing her own casting company in 1983, MARCI LIROFF CASTING, Liroff cast several successful films including Footloose, St. Elmo’s Fire, Pretty in Pink, The Iron Giant, The Spitfire Grill, Untamed Heart, Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Mr. Popper’s Penguins and the upcoming Vampire Academy and The Sublime and Beautiful which she also produced.
Whether it’s an indie or big blockbuster movie, Liroff makes a good film great and a great film a classic.
In addition to casting, Liroff works with actors as a private coach (in person and via Skype or FaceTime). Check out the site for more details and testimonials.
Take your courses with you and learn anytime, anywhere.
Learn and practice real-world skills and achieve your goals.
Are you a really well trained actor, but you seem to stumble when it comes to auditioning?!
Or, are you just starting out and need a road map to navigate the slippery slopes in Hollywood?
How would you like a VIP pass to learn casting secrets on booking more acting jobs from one of the top Casting Directors?
Based on my top-selling DVD, Marci Liroff's Audition Bootcamp, I created a one-of-a-kind online class to help actors learn exactly what it takes to win the role in a film and television audition. I'll take you step by step on the audition process.
This is a must have for any actor! The online course is designed to provide a clear perspective of acting and auditioning from the business end to the creative side. From my over 35 years as a casting director and producer, I will give you insider secrets such as:
Competition is huge in this business - this course will give you the edge over other actors.
I know you're all being sold gimmicks and tools and shortcuts to "Get on the red carpet" and "Get on the A-List"...frankly I don't think that should be your goal. If all you're seeking is fame, then you're probably in it for the wrong reasons.
I believe, and I think you do too, that you're an artist - a storyteller. You want to be on stage and on screen because you have a story to share and characters to embody.
"Your audition should not feel like a visit to the doctor! It is your time to show us what you've got. I will help you feel more in your body than you've ever felt before." - Marci Liroff
Purchase price gives you an unlimited amount of views whenever you want!
Make a commitment to yourself and take advantage of a rare opportunity to sharpen your audition skills under the guidance of one of the most respected and successful casting directors in Hollywood.
About your instructor MARCI LIROFF:
Marci Liroff’s extensive credits as a casting director and producer span more than 50 films.
While working at the renowned casting office of Fenton-Feinberg Casting she, along with Mike Fenton, cast such films as Bob Clark's “A Christmas Story” and “Porky’s”; the Academy Award-nominated “Poltergeist”; Steven Spielberg's “E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, and Ridley Scott's “Blade Runner”.
After establishing her own casting company in 1983, MARCI LIROFF CASTING, Liroff cast “Footloose”, “St. Elmo's Fire”, “Pretty in Pink”, “The Iron Giant”, “The Spitfire Grill”, “Untamed Heart”, “Freaky Friday”, “Mean Girls”, “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”, “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” along with the upcoming "Vampire Academy" and "The Sublime and Beautiful".
Whether it's an indie or big blockbuster movie, Liroff makes a good film great and a great film a classic.
In addition to casting film and television, Liroff is an acting coach working with actors in person and worldwide thru Skype.
Learn from the best!
"It is most important to be prepared and feel confident when you walk into the room. I felt very comfortable working with Marci. Her approach was perfect for me, as if we were in rehearsals for a stage play—breaking down each beat—details, details, details. The hours flew by and it was even fun. She gave me honest feedback and more importantly, an insider's look as to what other casting directors look for and expect. That helped put me at ease which added an extra confidence when I walked into the room—very important."
Pineapple Express, Fearless, Untamed Heart, White Men Can't Jump, and The Counselor
"What I like about Marci is that she does not try to mold you into something that is outside of yourself. She recognizes your strengths and creates a comfortable environment where you can really allow yourself to be free and find some interesting moments."
21 Jump Street, Warm Bodies, Now You See Me
Marci's coaching helps me approach audition scenes in the most creative way possible. With her patient & kind guidance, she encourages me to take risks. I truly enjoy collaborating with her!"
Mean Girls, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
Whether you're sitting behind the casting table with Marci (as I have), soaking up the invaluable lessons she's sharing in this course or lucky enough to enroll in one of her classes, what's always true is that Marci is passionate about empowering every actor to do his or her best work. Ever!
Dean Pitchford - Songwriter, Director, Screenwriter, Author
Marci Liroff's course is a must for every actor. I have been an Agent for over 12 years and the information on this course is a great resource. If you are a new to the business or a long time veteran, this course is a must have.
Chaim Magnum – Lemonlime Agency
I firmly believe that this is a MUST have for all actors. Marci was able to do something that no institution was able to do. She effectively constructed a blue print on how to successfully brand your product, packaged it in an easy to follow format, and made it available for every...one in all demographics.
Marci's course was not only incredibly informative, but she presents very complicated information in an organized, very well designed, and easy to follow format. It is a must for everyone already involved with, or wanting to begin their venture into, the entertainment industry. This is the best investment anyone can make--it certainly was for me.
Dr. Brian Gedeon
For anyone who is acting - Marci's course is an absolute must have! One thing you do or don't do in an audition - that they learn from Marci's course - could make or break your career!
Elaine Wilkes, Actress
I always wanted to know what casting directors look for, and now I know. The course is the ultimate audition guide. There's an abundance of valuable advice and tips for anyone serious about acting. I think those who take this course will definitely have an advantage by knowing what to do to prepare and knowing all the do’s and don'ts. It has helped demystify the audition process for me. The information presented in the course is very straight forward and easy to understand. I know I will definitely watch this again and put into practice all that I learn from it. Thank you Marci for putting together such a valuable resource!
"Marci's course was exactly what I needed to better understand the anatomy of the audition. Her experience as a casting director and her wealth in character as a person make the class a delight and leavse you with more than your money's worth. This is not a class where you are simply being preached at, rather, it is a forum for actors to share their experiences under the guidance of an industry veteran. I left the class feeling prepared to tackle auditions with a confident perspective and an appreciation for the good souls still thriving in this business."
"Marci Liroff and her course are a must if you want to act in Hollyweird. Marci is one of the rare people in this business who has a huge heart and cares about the project and the actors. She is an actor's casting director for sure and it is a pleasure to work with her as a filmmaker as well. She has a great eye for talent, she is honest, intuitive and supportive. I not only want to audition for her on any project she's doing, but I will be hiring her to cast my films as well. Bonus!"
"Marci is so much more than a Casting Director. After being cast in a project by her, working with her privately and in class, Marci has become a much needed teacher and mentor in a difficult business that can leave an actor feeling frustrated and confused. She truly wants us to succeed, and I am forever grateful to her for sharing her vast knowledge with me."
Shanda Lee Munson
Marci, I love your course! This is like an entire season of crucial info packed into one package. You have a comfortable presentation style, your style is a pleasure to listen to and you often present a fresh perspective on the solid basics as well as bringing fresh insights to the actor. I highly recommend that actors add this to their arsenal of study materials! I will watch this again and again. Thank you!
A must have for actors. It's part of that set of tools in your tool bag or those arrows in your quiver that you need to get a better understanding about the business we're in. This is the next best thing to being in her studio and her immediate presence!"
Wow! Marci really helps to demystify the casting process. The principles that she talks about in her course are universally true whether you are auditioning in LA, New York or here in Toronto. I especially loved the section on self-taping. We have the technology today to show filmmakers all over the world what we can do but we have to use the technology properly to present ourselves in the best possible light. Marci shows us how. I have been to casting director workshops in the past and always got the impression that the workshop was mainly a device to generate revenue during slow periods in the industry. But with Marci you know you are being taught by someone who truly likes and respects actors and wants them to be at their best. I loved the videos and I will be sure to recommend it to my Canadian actor friends. Thanks Marci.
"I have taken a lot of classes and even produced a few and I have to say that Marci Liroff's course is among the best of the best. Her feedback is honest and constructive, focusing on how the actor can best bring what is unique about themselves to the part, making your performance stand out from the others. She stresses the dual focus of the industry: Craft & Business and how the successful actor works on both sets of skills."
"Breaking walls is key to acting and Marci demolishes the fears and misconceptions of auditioning. She is the actors casting director and wants you to shine as bright as you can. Professionalism is important in the industry but having character and exuding personality is what will make your performance memorable. Marci guides you into the reality of the script and helps you become a better messenger."
"The title of Casting Director/Producer is obviously EARNED when you study her background. Before you journey into ANY casting office...learn what the BEST casting office would want to experience from you in the audition process. Start your adventure in front of Marci Liroff because of the multifaceted way she looks at each and every one us actors, how she holistically informs us to bring the choices we individually want to bring to the material. Whatever mistakes you make auditioning, you'll never make them again after Marci Liroff's class."
"Marci helped me understand that casting directors are on our side and WANT us to succeed. She boosts your confidence while also being honest and straightforward. (That's a neat trick, by the way, Marci.) Her class is a helpful, entertaining mix of hands-on experience, industry insight, and personal career guidance. Not bad when you usually pay twice as much for half the information and opportunity!"
Allen C. Gardner
"I highly recommend Marci Liroff's class for actors at any level of experience. She has a genuine love for actors and a great respect for the craft. Her insights are clear and direct and I truly felt as though I was able to stretch with the material that I was given. I am a better actor for having gone through this, and more empowered with knowledge on the audition and on the perspective from a top notch casting professional.
I'm an actor (SAG since 1976) and also worked for ten years as an asst./associate casting director in N.Y. and L.A. This is a terrific course. The wealth of experience and information is invaluable. She gives it to you straight. It helped me personally with an acting audition I had last week. I also lead an audition workshop here in Honolulu and have recommended it to my students. If you're an actor just starting out or whether you've been around the block a few times, you need this course...and I ain't blowin' smoke."
Ned Van Zandt
Taking Marci's course is like having a friend pull you aside after they've auditioned and fill you in on what the casting director was looking for. She gives you all the information you need to prepare to do your personal best! Although it would be great to take a class with Marci in person, the beauty of the online course is that you can pause it or go back over something if you missed a point while taking notes, without feeling like an idiot by saying, "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" (I took twelve pages of notes!) Marci has the experience to back up what she teaches, plus you can tell she truly cares about actors and wants them to do their best. Thanks Marci!"
"Marci's course was an outstanding experience. She created a comfortable, inviting environment within which to work, and we had many helpful, insightful guests. Marci also gave us some great tips, strategies, and ways of preparing that I hadn't considered before, but will use from this day forward before entering an audition. It's the best class I've taken in years, and has had a direct result on helping my confidence in the audition room."
"If you've ever stood in an audition room and wondered, "What are the casting people thinking?"... Guess no more. Marci's course not only tells you how casting directors think, but tells you exactly what to do to make them think of you as a true professional. No more hoping you're doing the right thing. Here are step by step instructions on how to handle most any audition situation. Marci tells you how to take care of all the "business" stuff and leaves you free to hone your skill and talent. This course will save you years of trial and error. I wish I had this when I first started out."
Larry F. Scott
"Marci's course is a must-have in any actor's arsenal. No matter what level you are at, Marci breaks down all the myths and facts about casting and what you need to do as an actor to get the job. It's like you have a private one on one coaching session with her! Thank you so much Marci, for not only sharing your wealth of knowledge but for being a fan of the actor."
"Marci Liroff's course is a must for beginning as well as experienced actors. It breaks down not only what you do to sabotage yourself at auditions, but it also shows you what to can do at auditions to make a good impression. I love how the course is organized. This is an investment that will pay big dividends!!"
Susan Elise Duris
Thank you for being such a bright shining force in the industry. Your class was enlightening and motivating. Your words of advice were invaluable and the guests you invited truly helped humanize the business. Thank you for sharing your vast experience with us and for introducing us to other kind, humble, talented individuals in the industry.
Laura C. Spencer
I have never walked away from an audition class feeling so informed, confident, and knowledgeable than I have from Marci Liroff's course. Marci has such deep and rich experience in the business, she can connect with any actor on any level. If you are a serious actor and want the knowledge of how you can make or break your next audition, you need to attend a class with Marci Liroff.
Taking Marci's class was one of the smartest moves I've made since moving to LA. She truly cares about actors and wants to help in every way possible. I have a new outlook on auditions after seeing how much Marci, as a casting director, wants actors to succeed in the audition room. She gives guidance from her vast experience with actors, directors, producers, and other casting directors. She creates a safe space to take risks, ask questions, and learn. I'm thrilled to say that I've found a mentor in Marci and that I now have new tools to confidently tackle any audition that comes my way!
Working with Marci was an invaluable experience. In a unique format of classes, Marci has created a positive and encouraging learning environment which fosters creativity and growth. Marci truly wants her actors to work hard and be the best they can be. By participating in the ‘Audition Bootcamp’ and having Marci - a nurturing and generous mentor, guiding you along the way – I know I am well on the path of doing just that.
I took Marci Liroff’s course and I cannot be happier that I did! She had an incredible amount of advice and information about the audition room that I had never heard before. After taking her class, I applied some of the things I learned to a few auditions and I felt that my performance and comfort level had both increased. I felt a confidence that I haven’t felt in a while and I credit it to her class.
Rachel C. Verret
It's the unknown that makes this business scary and Marci not only demystified the process, but also gave one a sense of empowerment; giving me permission to do what I love, which is help filmmakers bring characters to life they have created on the page.
Vampire Academy (2014)
The Sublime and Beautiful (2013)
Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2010)
The Paul Reiser Show (2010)
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)
The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
Full of It (2007)
Just Like Heaven (2005)
Land of the Dead (2005)
New York Minute (2004)
Mean Girls (2004)
View from the Top (2003)
Freaky Friday (2003)
Hard Ball (2001)
Summer Catch (2001)
Cats & Dogs (2001)
Ready to Rumble (2000)
“The Strip” (1999)
The Iron Giant (1999)
Jack Frost (1998)
The Spitfire Grill (1996)
The Tie That Binds (1995)
It Runs in the Family (1994)
The Crush (1993)
Untamed Heart (1993)
The Cutting Edge (1992)
Eve of Destruction (1991)
The Washing Machine Man (1991)
Sibling Rivalry (1990)
Men at Work (1990)
Coupe de Ville (1990)
The Experts (1989)
Hearts of Fire (1987)
You Ruined My Life (1987)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)
Return to Oz (1985)
Johnny Dangerously (1984)
The Ratings Game (1984)
A Christmas Story (1983)
Running Brave (1983)
All the Right Moves (1983)
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Porky’s II: The Next Day (1983)
Best Friends (1982)
Kiss Me Goodbye (1982)
Endangered Species (1982)
Best Friends (1982)
Six Weeks (1982)
Blade Runner (1982)
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
The Sublime and Beautiful (2012) (producer)
The Spitfire Grill (1996) (co-producer)
The Crush (1993) (associate producer)
Untamed Heart (1993) (associate producer)
Congratulations for taking this important step to further your career.
Auditioning and acting are two different animals.
Keep taking classes. It's always a good idea to have more tricks in your bag.
Here are the tools you'll need to go into the world of auditioning, so you can shine!
Make a Fan of the Casting Director
Don't worry about getting the role. Your goal should be to consistently go into each audition prepared and having made great choices. Build a foundation for the future. Know that most casting directors take great notes, and will remember you for future parts that may be perfect for you. They'll most likely bring you in again if you do a great job. So focus more on giving a terrific audition.
What to Do When You Get the Call - Questions to Ask Your Agent
Have this list by the phone when your agent calls or emails.
Who am I auditioning for?
Keep a list of all the people you audition for, and the people who are your fans. Also keep notes of your feedback and what you wore on your auditions.
What am I auditioning for?
Your acting style will be different for a Michael Bay film versus a sitcom, so you need to know the genre that you're auditioning for. Do your homework watching shows, so when you get the call you'll know the style of that show. You should also do Internet searches about the project and people involved.
What role and I auditioning for?
Get a copy of the Breakdowns that describe the character.
What level of audition is this?
Is this a pre-read? Is it a producer/director audition? Is it a callback? Is it a chemistry read? There are many types of auditions.
Keep a diary/journal/record of all your auditions and meetings
(see blog - "Dear Diary..." Lecture 4)
Types of Auditions
The Chemistry Reading
With the chemistry read audition, you may be asked to go in and audition with the actor that's already been hired. Or, they may just have you go in to see your chemistry with another actor.
Types of Auditions
No one meets the producer and director unless I know the actor's work. A general audition is where I get to know you. Especially if I don't know your work, I want to get to know you.
Come in and have a couple interesting stories to talk about with the casting director. It can be a couple of professional stories like what you've been working on lately, or classes that you're taking, or personal stories such as - you got a new dog, or you just got back from your honeymoon. These stories help give me an idea of who you are. I want to see what's exciting about you.
Also, you should do your homework. You should know about casting director. You could talk about the series they cast, or when you cast that movie how did you find the kid.
It's a two-way street. I can ask questions. And you can ask questions also.
Use your instincts to judge how busy the office is because he may not have time for a lot of small talk.
Types of Auditions
In the pre-read, I can help prep you so you're ready for your callback. I've been working with the directors, producers, and executives for weeks and I know what they want.
The pre-read is a great opportunity to hash out the scene and ask questions.
A good casting director will give you information and direct you on what you should do and wear for your callback. I'll give you lots of notes, so when you come back, you'll be exactly in the zone of what we're looking for.
Make sure to use this information that I give you and retain it for your callback. Many times I've worked with an actor on their pre-read, then they come in for their callback after having worked with a new acting coach and they've changed-up their entire take on the character and have forgotten all the specific notes and beats I've given them.
Get The Script
Read the script. It's a SAG-AFTRA rule that you are supposed to get the script. Be pro-active to make sure you get the script.
Many times the script is top secret and they won't release it. Know that it's a level playing field in this case because no one is getting it. If you can't get the script, look at the breakdowns and sides for all the roles to give you an idea of what's going on in the story. Websites like ActorCast, Showfax, Breakdown, or ActorsAccess have the sides - you can read them all and piece together what the script is about.
Ask questions of your agent and or manger. They work for you.
If you get an audition and don't have an agent, then call the casting assistant and politely ask for the script.
Be prepared and read the script. It's your job to do this. Even if you have one line, you need to read the screenplay to get the tone of the piece. Also, we may like you and want you to audition for another character. If you've read the script, you already have an idea who this other character is because you know the story inside and out.
Where and When?
Be precise. Make sure you know exactly where your addition is. If not you can be late trying to find the place, and it's hard to recover from that.
Leave 15 minutes ahead of when you think you should be there.
Plot your course. With the Internet you can go online and find out exactly where the office is.
In your car, concentrate on your role to get your head in the right place.
Preparing for your audition
Read the script with another human being so you get that conversational rhythm. So many times actors come in and I can tell they've never read the scene with another person. These days it's easy to call a friend or even Skype/FaceTime with someone. Do this for your acting buddies and they'll do it for you!
What to Wear
What an actor wears to their audition shows me how they're thinking - or NOT thinking! Give a small flavor of what the character would wear.
It helps us see you in the role. Don't get all costumey - you don't need to be dressed in a police uniform, since that's a bit overboard.
Keep jewelry simple.
Before taping take off noisy bracelets before taping.
Don't wear perfume or cologne.
Your Time Call
Don't think you can show up at another time. If you're late, call ahead of time. Don't just show up.
Be nice to the casting assistant - they are my "eyes and ears" in the waiting room.
Make sure your sides are correct beforehand. There can be rewrites. Check in with the assistant.
It goes without saying.....be nice to the casting assistants.
The Dreaded Waiting Room
Show up on time and expect to wait. And you can wait a long time.
Figure out what keeps you going — what keeps you in the zone
Be careful not to be psyched out by other actors in the room.
You can put earbuds in your ears to be left alone, so you don't get distracted.
Try not to listen to the other actors' auditions.
The minute you walk in the door, you're auditioning.
Being scattered, or complaining can make you lose the part. If you have weird, frenzied, or negative energy we'll pick up on that it's uncomfortable to be around.
Come in with your sides, and your purse if you're a woman. Leave your coat and the rest of your stuff in the waiting room.
Come in graceful and together and sit down.
Sit down poised, and get ready to do your scene.
Prepare Before You Come in the Room
Don't do vocal warmups and stretches in the audition room.
How you are in the audition room is indicative of how you'll be on the set.
If they extend their hand, then shake their hand, otherwise don't shake hands.
Bring your picture and resume.
ALWAYS bring your picture and resume to your auditions even if you think we have one already. It's your calling card. Have a kit in your car with your photos, resumes, and DVD. Even have a stapler.
Make sure your photo actually looks like you.
Keep it simple. Make it real. Keep your makeup and jewelry simple.
For film and television, it's a headshot, not a full body shot.
Make sure your resume is accurate and updated.
If you change your look drastically, show it in a picture so we know what you look like now.
On your resume, your special skills- keep it real. Don't lie.
Prepare Before You Come in the Room
Don't do vocal warmups and stretches in the audition room.
How you are in the auction room is indicative of how you'll be on the set.
Being Off Book (Having Your Lines Memorized)
The more you get called back, we expect you to be more off-book. It'll help free you up.
But, make sure you can still make adjustments so don't cement in your choices.
Be completely off-book if you're testing at the network.
Many times we'll ask if you have any questions. This is a good time to get the clarification you many need to proceed with your audition. Please know that you don't have to ask questions, but it's the perfect time to get the insight you need.
Don't bring the producer or the director into the scene by making them one of the characters. Look over the heads of the people in the room. Don't pull someone in the scene as it makes them very uncomfortable.
If you get off to a bad start, just say, "I'm going to start over." Grab control of the room. It you're two or three pages into the scene, then pause and recover for a second, and keep going.
The Camera is Your Friend
Do not look directly into the camera, unless it's a commercial audition.
It you just think it and feel it, the camera will pick it up.
Make sure your hair isn't in your face. We want to see you!
If there's a third person in the scene, make them just the other side of the camera so that you're not directing your off-camera looks towards the wall!
Unless the scene calls for you to sit down, stand up. It'll give you more energy. Make sure the person reading with you is also standing so your eyeliner is level. Politely ask if they could stand so you eyeline is level with the camera.
Changing the Dialog
There is really no reason to change it unless you're making it better. Don't add in words such as "like" or "you know."
It is okay to change things a little bit. Be careful not to go overboard.
I've noticed, especially in television, that the creators are especially prickly about this. Remember that many times the writer is the producer/creator. They like their words.
When and actor takes control of the room, it makes us notice them.
Part of getting over nervousness is auditioning a lot and, much like going to the gym, exercising that muscle.
It's all about your perspective. How often do you actually get to act? View your audition as a chance to "play" and show us your take. Think of yourself as a collaborator, and filmmaker - not just an actor coming in to get a job.
Some people imagine they're a tree and send roots down through their body to ground them. Everyone has a different "trick" they use.
Know that the casting people want you to get the part.
It's good for us to see that you're comfortable in your own skin, and make it look like you're saying it for the first time.
If you don't get a callback, don't sweat it. Seriously you have to let this work roll off your back.
You may have given a great audition, but you don't look right. You don't look like you fit into the family we're casting, or you don't look like you fit into this piece, or it isn't a good fit.
I've been private coaching lately, and one of the actresses said she wasn't getting any reaction in the room. I explained to her that we're sitting in the room sometimes four to eight hours a day, seeing people every ten to fifteen minutes.
Know that other things can be going on in the room that have nothing to do with you. So you have to walk into that room and steel yourself against that negative energy. You have to bring the party. You have to be ready for the fact that maybe they won't laugh at the funny part in your performance—that sometimes you may not get that instantaneous reaction.
Do your job. Walk out the door and let it go.
There's so many things in this business that are out of your control. You do have one thing that's in your control and that is to be good. Come in there and be prepared. Be rehearsed. Know the scene. Own that room. Come in there and do a job the best you can. After that, walk out and let it go. The role either has your name on it, or it doesn't. If you make a good impression, they'll bring you in for something else.
How To Self-Tape Your Audition Like A Rockstar
By Marci Liroff
As many projects are asking for you to self-tape your audition as a form of pre-screening, many of you have asked how to self-tape your auditions. For some, the mere idea of this can be daunting. I urge you to get comfortable with doing this. It’s not as hard as it may seem. If you think about it, you’re actually the actor, director, and producer of your own audition! You are finally in control of your audition!
Here are some instructions that you should follow.
Pay attention to ALL of the instructions that the CD or website gives you. If they tell you to do it a specific way, DO IT THAT WAY!
Know the material. Be as off-book as possible so that you can interact with your scene partner (who’s off-camera). It’s ok to hold your sides, but we don’t want to see you literally reading off the page.
TRIPOD: This is important! Make your audition as professional as possible by attaching your camera to a tripod. Nobody wants to watch an audition on a hand-held camera. If you don’t have access to a tripod (or can’t borrow one!), prop your camera on a table on top of some books so that it matches your eyeline (never shoot under your chin – that look isn’t good on anyone!)
LIGHTING: The best thing is to use natural light. Make sure you’re not shooting TOWARDS a window or the light, but that the natural light is actually lighting YOU! If you don’t have natural light, then get some appropriate lighting. You can actually use lamps if you don’t have real lights. You can even use those wonderful large globe Chinese Lanterns (w/the white shades) – those throw a lot of nice soft light. Go onto YouTube and search for “3 point lighting“.
You’ll get A LOT of videos how to do this. This will make your video look very professionally done and you can even do it on the cheap if you’re going to be doing this at home a lot. Go to Home Depot and get some “work lights”, and you can fashion a stand for them. One of my Twitter followers just sent me a link to Cowboy Studio which has inexpensive lighting packages.
Make sure you “white balance” your camera before you start shooting. Many cameras these days have an auto-white balance. If yours doesn’t, check the instructions and figure out how to do it. In many cases, you can just hold up a white piece of paper about 5 inches in front of the lens and that’ll do the trick.
1. Find a quiet and well lit room.
2. Have the actor stand in front of a blank white, blue or grey painted wall. You can always use a plain sheet.
3. Have someone other than the actor (the “reader) reading the supporting lines off camera. Do not attempt to do a scene by yourself unless it’s a monologue. Even then, have a friend operate your camera. Have your “reader” stand RIGHT NEXT TO the camera – almost hugging the tripod. EYE LINE! This is very important. So often the actor is reading to a partner that is SO far away from the camera, all we see is his profile. Make sure the actor looks at the reader during the scene and not directly at the camera.
4. You want to frame CHEST UP – not too much head room. Make sure we can see your face. You should stand about 3-5 ft. from the camera. Some projects ask for a full body shot as well to include before or after you do your scene.
5. Camera should be at eye level or just slightly above, NEVER underneath your chin.
6. Record a test sample ﬁrst and see how it looks and sounds on the computer ﬁrst to make ﬁnal adjustments before taping the scenes.
7. When you are ready to record the scene, make sure the actor adds a verbal “slate” ﬁrst by saying their name, the city they are from and role they are reading for. Make sure that your slate is a SEPARATE take from your audition scenes. Don’t just roll from your slate right into the scene – that’s an amateur move. Some CDs request a slate on a piece of paper w/the pertinent info. Just make sure we can READ IT!
9. Record the scenes 2 or 3 times (or as many times as you need), pausing between takes so that you can pick the best one once youʼve had a chance to review them. Only include your best take.
10. Make sure your audition is labeled with all your contact info clearly on the clip – you can do this before and after – it never hurts to be sure. This is very important. We need to be able to reach you if we want to call you back or give you re-direction.
You can also self-tape from your webcam on your computer (a video camera is better, so ONLY do this if you have no other options). If you’re going to do it this way, I suggest you raise your laptop up a bit so that it’s not shooting “up” at you with an unflattering angle. You can also practice your upcoming auditions with your webcam and play them back so you can see what’s working and what’s not!
Glad you’re here – Marci
Acting is Reacting
Good actors listen. Acting is about reacting. I've had actors say they can't act a love scene with me because I'm not a guy. I think that's lazy. Many times on the set, the lead actor is going to be released for the day and you're going to be acting with a script supervisor. So you have to bring it in any circumstance. Let's say you're doing a special effects movie, you're going to be reading to a piece of tape on the wall. You have to imagine the entire monster coming at you.
You have to use your imagination and give a good performance whether you have a good reader reading opposite you or not.
The following is a list of pet peeves, gathered from Casting Directors all over the country. It is not meant as an attack, but an educational device to help illustrate what not to do in an audition. All of these stories are true.
Pic/res not stapled together. This means, don’t ask to borrow my stapler or my assistant’s staper. Make sure your contact info and agent/mgr. is written on the photos AND your resume in case they get separated – which can happen.
Not being aware of the situation. When actors are outside and they know people are waiting, but they take it upon themselves to "have a moment” with everyone waiting in the room. It's like I always say, it's not. "According to the Waiter" it's "According to Jim" - so don't try to make a meal from a mouthful.
No weapons, not even fake ones. I’ve had actors pull fake guns and knives on me – it was very traumatic.
No touching the casting director. I was in a producers session reading a scene about a homeless guy who attacks the girl. I was reading with the actor and he came up to me and put his arm under my face pushing on my neck and thus pushing so hard that he knocked the wind out of me. I was shaken. My producers were appalled. He was sorry but I have never brought him in again.
In the screen test for a film I was doing, I was reading off camera with an actor. We were doing a fight scene where he and his girlfriend break up. He picked up a chair and threw it across the stage - at me! Luckily, I ducked!
When actors don't have their headshot/resume ready when they are called, and then have to dig through their bags while you wait for them.
Don't get offended if the casting director won't shake hands. We aren't being paranoid or crazy, it's just that 100 handshakes is a lot of germs in a day.
Coming to an audition, coming to callbacks, booking the job, and suddenly remembering that you are getting married and are not available. Actors who don't know the shoot dates or come in and think it's better to be seen even if they aren't available.
Coming an hour early and hoping that we can "fit them in".
Actors that preface their audition with an excuse....I was tired, sick - all it says to me is, "get ready, I am going to be really bad today.”
Coming in with a bad attitude. Never underestimate the effect being pleasant has on everyone.
Asking to be seen for another role, or complaining that they felt that there was another role they were better suited for.
Make sure your cell phone is off before you enter the room. This should be obvious, but in this age of connectivity, many people feel compelled to respond immediately, without thinking. (I have a good story about a seasoned performer who actually answered his phone in the room!) I figure that, unless your wife is actively delivering your child, this is verboten.
Don't prop yourself up with props. Don’t use a prop in a scene unless you are totally comfortable with it. I’ve seen props totally befuddle some people.
If it’s a driving scene, you don’t have to actually “drive” the car.
If a scene asks you to pull a knife out of your jacket ... please don't do that in an audition. Especially if you don't tell the CD before hand. This could lead to furniture being toppled and a big producer putting you in a choke hold....
I have a really weird PERSONAL DON'T: Please don't shake my hand. I understand etiquette but if 30 people shake my hand in a day I get the Flu...or worse Chicken Pox.
For the women, at least for ME... please don't dress like a stripper unless you are auditioning for the role of a stripper. Likewise….a little make-up never hurts.
For The Men: I'm not going to have sex with you and you're not going to have sex with me so don't even TRY to seduce me into thinking you are a better actor than you are. Charm is good. Wit. Personality. But flirting in a creepy way is...well.. creepy.
KNOW the material. TEXT is important when a script is well written. If you have a monologue and then right after it the character says: 'sorry for that outburst'. Simple reasoning determines that the monologue was INTENSE in a way that makes the character apologize.... It's all in the TEXT.
If you believe you were kidnapped by aliens and taken to another planet. It's probably not a good idea to tell that to a CD in an audition...
Be nice and courteous to everyone. You never know: that receptionist could end-up being a director or producer some day. And the INTERNS definitely “rat-you-out” when you leave...the guy who used to CLEAN my toilets was nominated for an OSCAR 10 years later....
Please, please, please….go easy on the perfume/cologne. (this was pretty much the TOP request from all the CDs).
What You Should Do in An Audition
We want you to bring into an auction what's unique with your own spin on it. Make a choice.
When we're casting we can see hundreds of people for one role. And generally many people end up giving the exact same reading as the next person.
We want you to find out what's unique in yourself and play those strengths.
It's your job to take whats on the page, pull it off, and give it another color. Even if it's a line, or a specific word that you punch—you want to make it your own. Then we'll sit up and pay attention.
That's what's exciting about casting. When someone comes in and they give a unique reading.
But, don't be different for the sake of being different. It still has to be organic to the piece and match the tone of the script.
Make it your own.
People always ask me, "What are you looking for when you're casting?"
Basically what we're looking for is truth — honesty.
I can tell when you're not committed to a scene—when you're not fully in it.
Know what it is that you're good at. Some people have a God-given talent for comedy, others are great at drama. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
Take classes. Train. Challenge yourself.
Don't be afraid to make choices.
Put your signature on it.
It's better to have a point of view, then do nothing.
Use these tools so you'll give your best audition ever!
Here are a few of the films I've cast throughout the years to illustrate how important the casting process is to the film.
I have had no prior auditioning experience. The material presented was very useful in preparing me for the audition process that I will soon embark on.
After all this time Marci I finally purchased and completed your on line course:) Thank You for the Confirmation Preparation ...and of course Inspiration:) Concise and Valuable. Heck it was worth the price for your 90 second sizzle reel in and of itself! Happy Thanksgiving-Bill:)
I read Marci's articles in Backstage and was thrilled to see she had an online class. Her Backstage articles are amazing & full of great info all of us actors need to know, so I knew a class by her would be even better. I'm 50% done and I can't believe how much I've learned. Writing extensive notes and can't wait to watch the next half. Great class. I highly recommend!
I feel that if I can walk away from an online course with one juicy tidbit then I am happy. Holy Cow, this series offers dozens! And the cherry on top is the links in the end. Great ! Thank you!
This was a really eye opening look inside the nefarious mind of a casting director. I jest of course. The real nugget here was to not look on the CD's as 'Gatekeepers'. Many of us take this adversarial approach. It is bullheaded and just plain wrong. This is a collaborative art form and Marci clearly illustrates this. I would highly recommend this course for any aspiring thespians. Marci knows her stuff and her unpretentious and succinct style is a real eye opener. Take this course!!