By Bruce Edwin
Bruce Edwin is founding CEO of the A-list firm Starpower Management LLC, publisher and creator of The Hollywood Sentinel, and producer of motion picture. His services, based on his years of expertise and success in the music and film industry are sought out and used by some of the most powerful companies and stars in entertainment. This article series, a precursor to his upcoming book series, is his way of giving back to models, actors and bands, with knowledge, that in its totality and with its unabashed honesty cannot not be found anywhere else—for free.
How to Audition with an Agent, Manager, or Casting Director
1. Be on time. Being on time means being early. When you show up early, don't ask them to take you early. Get in the door twenty minutes before the time you are meant to be, sign in if you can—let them know you are there, and patiently wait. If you are late, don't make excuses. Apologize, and promise them it will never happen again, and if—by some odd chance you get it—be sure it does not happen again. If you are late, it would be odd for you to get the job, so don't be. I personally would never hire someone who showed up late to an audition, and I usually never represent any one that shows up late to an interview with me. The few times I have violated my own policy and still chosen to see someone again that was late the first time, I regretted it- because they continued to be late again, or rude and disrespectful in other ways. Be on time!
2. Be Professional. Keep your phone on silent, and stay in sight in case they are able to take you early. Don't have conversations in the casting office or waiting room. Remember, the secretary may report back everything he or she hears you say to the casting director, agent, or manager. Do not gossip.
3. Follow directions. If a breakdown or ad indicates no phone calls, or no e-mails, do not call or e-mail. Casting, management, and agents are usually super busy, and if they get new traffic from phone calls or e-mails from you that they specifically communicated to you on the line of communication you read, that they did not want, then that is going to waste their time and really annoy them, and you could be rejected for that alone.
If you are told to bring something, bring it. If you are told you need a headshot with a resume attached, bring it. Don't make excuses like your printer wasn't working. If what you are offered is important to you, you will find a way, and if not, Hollywood does not care. There are many others who will be prepared who will take your place- no matter how talented or great looking you are. Never give a headshot with a resume that is not cut and attached and stapled. I would actually rather get an amateur five by seven family album snapshot printed off a computer than a professionally printed headshot with a loose resume not attached. Why do everything almost right, and then not get it right? If you want to be an amateur, be an amateur, but don't go half way and stop before the finish line. Follow directions!
4. Always bring photos to meet an agent or manager. Bring something. There is never an excuse for walking in to a meeting or audition without a photo. Take a picture off of your phone and print that on your computer and go to a copy shop and pay a few bucks and get a snapshot printed there if you must—but bring something-anything. It is easier than ever to get a cheap photo made these days, so never ever, ever walk in to an audition or agent or managers office without at least something!
Do not expect anyone to take photos on a camera for you and do not ask them to. If an aspiring actor or model would show up to meet me with no photo, their face would be quickly forgotten amidst all of the many others seen who did bring photos, and as a result, those who did not bring at least a snapshot were rejected. When they would call back asking if they could bring in a photo which they were supposed to bring in the first time, the answer was usually- no. You do not need to spend money on professional pictures to see an agent or manager, but bring something.
5. Always bring at least two great, current headshots of you with your resume attached to any casting, audition, open call, or go-see. You will need to have professional headshots to see a casting director, director, or producer. You should follow the direction of your agent or manager as to what photographer and pictures to use. If you are worried that they might be making a finders fee off of you, understand that the biggest model and talent agencies in the world were often partly made off of referral fees. If they make a few bucks off of a referral, so what? What matters is can they help you get work. If you think they can't, then go to someone who you think can.
6. Do not swear! I did a group interview with some actors recently for a show I am casting, and one guy was doing everything right: he was on time, he had his headshot and resume, he had a decent look, and he fit the role I wanted. But he did two things that I rejected him for. The first thing he did was he started swearing in front of me and my other potential clients. I don't care how casual Hollywood may be, do not swear in an interview or audition unless it is in a monologue and you warn the person you are reading for first and ask if it is okay. Swearing is a form of disrespect to someone interviewing you if you do not know them and know that they swear and don't mind if you do. Even then, you should try avoid it. Keep a professional environment and keep your words clean.
7. Do not interrupt. The other thing the guy above did you must never do, is interrupt. When the guy referred to above cut me off, he interrupted me, and then swore. I thought, "You've got to be kidding me dude—really?!" He probably didn't even realize he did, but I sure did. And, I would never in a million years hire him as a result. It is reasons like this that certain actors go year after year with getting no work and then wonder why. No one tells them why because most agents and managers learn the hard way that talent who can not handle any criticism end up trying to get revenge for their wounded egos. So, agents and managers don't tell the actors what they did wrong, and the talent keeps on making the same mistakes, year after year, getting more and more depressed and bitter about how 'Hollywood's done them wrong' and it's just not fair. That is the wrong attitude.
8. Communicate effectively. Sit up straight, project confidence, and look people in the eye. One guy I interviewed recently was short. That can be okay, but on top of that, he spent the entire time hunched over in his chair. This projected low confidence, and low energy, and an ever lower height, when I was hiring for just the opposite. The job of an actor is to communicate the message of the script in the most convincing way possible. If one can not communicate professionally on the phone or in person with an agent, manager, or casting director, how can one consider that they will communicate professionally and successfully on stage or on screen? If you are an actor and you have not, then study communication. Get books on it, including public speaking.
9. Do not criticize yourself. I tried going from person to person, and finding one good thing to say about all of these actors during this audition, saying something nice about them and to them and in front of their peers during this interview. Yet while I was trying to do this, one of the actors began criticizing himself and telling me how he absolutely could not sing and dance, and told me in such a manner as if he had just told me that he was about ready to die—he really seemed that depressed about it. I almost started thinking how untalented he was due to the way he was explaining this, when actually, I did not care if he could sing or dance, and he had the skills for exactly what I wanted in another area—martial arts. Do not criticize yourself—ever, in front of an agent, manager, or casting director.
10. Don't blame others. One of the most stupid things an actor can do is what the next person did who recently sent me the following e-mail. Here is the actual e-mail:
"Hello, i went to the location given, was there at 3:30, and tried to find the address. No luck, after 45 minutes, no such address exists. My navigator kept taking me to a McDonald's parking lot. No such house/apt. existed. This doesn't please me, being that I drove all the way from Hollywood.
Please, explain. Thank you. Here is the link/URL to the post that you listed. Kind Regards, _ _ _ "
I am going to try and be really nice about this and not state what I really think of this person. This guy not only could not find the easy to locate address in Chinatown, which I easily found the first time I had ever been given the address myself- which 'does' exist, and which many other actors found fine and on time the first time, who met me in a public courtyard outside of a martial arts studio—but further, this guy had the audacity to be confrontational and insultive. This actors behavior was very foolish. Now, I would not deal with this person—ever, even if someone paid me to. I wrote him a kind e-mail, indicating that the address does indeed exist, told him the location again, and told him how all of the others showed up fine, and that sometimes certain navigators do not work for every address. I wrote really politely to the guy, even going so far as apologizing for 'his' trouble (even though it was not my fault), and still, did this guy even have the guts or decency to reply to me with an apology himself? No. If you want to never work in Hollywood again, just act like this guy. Wow!
For those who have for some reason still not yet figured it out, navigators can sometimes fail to work—not just in the mountains or underground, but they can actually be wrong. Bring a 'Thomas Guide,' which is a detailed street map, with you as a back up, and of course, a print out of the actual address of where you are supposed to go. Print out directions from the internet as well, but remember, those too can be wrong, so bring a hard copy map as a back up. And, never send such a dumb e-mail as 'Todd' did. Even 'if' the other person is wrong, assume the higher ground, and be cordial. Remember, Hollywood is a small town, so if you upset one person that can do something for you, consider you have just magnified that effect by at least 10 other people. Be a lady or gentleman, and be charming in all you say and do. It's bad enough to be stupid, but it's twice as bad to be stupid and blame somebody else for it. Be smart about things, and and instead of blaming, try let the other person be right. It won't kill you, and sometimes you just might find out, they 'were' right, after all.
A good book to read is How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Napoleon Hill, or Charm Your Way to the Top by Michael Levine.
11. Don't be a Player. Some guys get the bright idea of trying to pick up babes at castings, right in front of casting directors. Dude, no. That is not the time or place to try and be a player. If casting or an agent or managers sees you do this, consider that you will not be getting any audition or job. Also, most women do not want to be hit on when they are trying to get work. So don't.
12. Don't correct others when you don't need to. Before calling up your agent or manager and complaining to them about what you are unhappy with that they are or are not doing, consider that if you have one thing bothering you, that they probably have dozens of things they may consider you are or or not doing that you should or should not be doing. Instead of confronting with an attitude of blame, confront your problems from a place of calm and care, and ask them if there is anything they would like to see change that would make them more happy. Then, after they have expressed themselves and you have truly heard, understood, and communicated that understanding and proposed a solution, then, and only then, bring your concerns to them in a polite and respectful way. Say something like, "I know you are super busy and working very hard for me and all of your other clients. If you don't mind, can I tell you about one thing that would mean a lot to me if you would help me with it?" Then, say it in the nicest way possible.
13. Don't assume every other actor or model is your friend. Even if they are nice to your face in the waiting room, that nice, sweet actor you are competing against that seems like they want to be your new BFF may actually be fishing for information or a line to use against you. I have had female clients that have had this done to them by other girls, with some quitting Hollywood in tears, shocked at how mean, vicious and cut-throat some of the other girls were. One girl enticed another to say bad things against an A.D. (assistant director) on a T.V. show once, only to later be approached by the A.D. who confronted her on the things she said about him to the other girl at her enticement. The reality was that the A.D. and the girl fishing for slander were so called 'friends.' In truth, the girl was attractive, and also manipulating the A.D. to make him think she liked him, in order to get what she wanted, while the A.D. was using his position of power to reciprocate with her flirting. The girl who was this manipulator's victim fell in to her trap, and ended up being kicked off the show.
Another girl once told one of my clients that they had picked herself, and that they were just auditioning the rest of the girls to 'be nice' to them and not 'hurt their feelings.' My client, instead of calling me to get the truth, believed this foolishness, and went home, instead of auditioning, missing out on the part she should have gotten. I could tell countless more stories, but you get the idea. Certainly not all people are this cruel and unethical, but some are. Do not speak badly of others, lest it come back to haunt you, and be careful of who you trust- especially when they are your competition. Even if the person you are talking with is not your competition, consider that they may have a boyfriend, girlfriend, daughter, son, relative, or someone who is your competition that they are trying to help, and so they may have a covert agenda when communicating with you. I have seen that happen as well.
14. Do not babble. When being interviewed, keep your answers clear and accurate, and not too long. Do not do all of the talking. Do not make it all about yourself. Show interest in the other person. Ask their opinion on things, and communicate politely. I have known a few people over the years who the name 'babbly' clearly applies to. They just talk-talk-talk, barely pausing between sentences because they are afraid they will not get to keep talking, and just keep talking on and on and on and on, hardly even stopping to get a breath of air. If you have encountered someone like this, you know that it is exhausting just to listen to them. This is generally due to a nervous condition when a person is afraid of not being heard or understood, and the result is that they over do it to the worst extreme by trying to send out a machine gun style delivery of words and messages, but not being willing to receive any back. This is an unfortunate condition, but one that can be changed with less talking and more asking questions and listening.
15. Know who you are meeting. Before any interview or audition, know a lot about the person you will be meeting, their company, their interests, and if applicable, the production company or job. Be prepared, and share your knowledge in a casual yet professional way. One of the most annoying things an actor, model or band can do is to start asking a ton of questions about a person or company, that are all answered on the company website, if the person would have have just taken the time to look.
16. Address the name of the person you are talking to. Over eighty percent of the queries I get sent to me get automatically deleted, because they are not addressed to me personally. If you send a query, or meet someone, know and use their name, often. Never send communication without addressing the name of the person you want to talk to. If you don't know, find out first by phone or research.
17. Get trained. If you are an actor, you must be trained. Contrary to the wrong view of many, acting is not something that just anyone can start doing and be great at it. It takes training. Ask the agent or manager you sign with where they may suggest you train. If you are a model, you do not need to go to school to be a model, but an acting class will help you, a mime class, dance, or even speech, as speech also included body language and other non verbal communication. Also as a model, study the careers of other successful models and the works of top fashion designers whose work you love. This is true for actors and bands as well—study your favorites and learn what they did right and learn to avoid their mistakes.
18. Do not overstay your welcome. Once the audition is over, do not linger around. Know when to exit gracefully. Do not be one of the ones who have to be told to leave, that the auditions are over now. I have seen many people kill deals in producer meetings as well because the other party didn't know timing, and when to exit on a high note. Don't linger when it is time to bow out gracefully. You may be desperate, but never let it show.
19. Be well fed and rested before a meeting. I have had many meetings with models, when I asked, 'What did you just say?' And their answer was, after some giggles, 'Oh, I am so embarrassed, excuse me, that wasn't me, that was my stomach. I guess I need to eat something.' If you starve your stomach, you are starving your mind, and this will translate to nervousness, short temper, and irritability, as well as possible funny noises. It also communicates that you may have an eating disorder, or at the very least, that you don't take care of yourself. Eat! Eat when you are hungry, eat healthy, and carry snacks like fresh fruit or dried fruit and nuts and drinks with you, so you will never be hungry.
20. Don't smoke. As a former smoker, I cannot stand the odor of cigarettes, including smelling tobacco on someone's clothes. It's disgusting. So if I have a choice between working with a smoker or a nonsmoker, I am definitely going to choose the nonsmoker every time. In addition to being a slow way of killing one's self, cigarettes also kill others with second hand smoke. And, smoking literally stinks, and creates a nasty, stale odor that lingers on the body, breath, clothes, and area of any where around it. Since many people that do smoke start because they are stressed, and many of them want to quit, smoking also signifies a sign of weakness; weak will, and little self control. If a person can't even control themselves by not committing a known slow suicide of themselves and a slow death for others, how can they control anything else very well? They generally can't.
Have you seen and heard a person that had to have their vocal chords cut out and talked through an electronic box they had to hold up to their neck and sounded like a robot? I have, and they told me it was from smoking. Have you ever seen a loved one smoke so much every day and year after year that they became crippled and ended up wheeling around an oxygen tank beside their wheel chair until they died? I have- and it was because he didn't quit smoking. Smoking kills. There is nothing cool or good about it. It also thrashes your voice, and if you are an actor or singer, you might want to care a bit about that. And, I know a number of agents, managers, and casting directors who feel the same way and will not hire a smoker if they can help it. So, don't smoke. If you don't, be proud, and never start. If you do, call my office, and I will actually give you a free way in which you can actually quit for good, that takes not drugs, and that I will not charge you for.
21. Be clean. This should go with out saying, but I have also learned in Hollywood, that even that which should go without saying, should be said. And that is this—do not show up to an audition, casting, go-see, job, or interview drunk or on drugs. And yes, when I say drugs, I also mean pot. I have kicked many women out of my office—including a few ex-clients, who showed up to my office drunk or stoned. If you think about doing this, pretend that you can make money in the entertainment industry—you can, and pretend that it is actually a job—it is. And now, pretend that one has to be a professional on a job, which means, do not show up drunk or stoned. Some of my haters out there were people I rejected or dropped for being drunks; one with a DWI who I found out was driving on a suspended license, pot heads, cokeheads, meth heads, or x heads that got angry when I told them to stop this behavior, and went psycho. If you want to get wasted, go find some lame 'reality show' to be on. There are plenty of them out there where that low level behavior might actually be accepted or even encouraged. But if you want to make real money and want to be a star, and do work of quality and substance that stands the test of time and that influences culture with greatness, don't think about showing up unless you are a true professional. The real pros out there than can hire and cast you, will accept nothing but a pro.
22. Assume internally that you have gotten the part. One reason that prayer can work is because it is based on faith. When we have faith that something is going to happen, and believe that with every particle of our being, then we tend to attract to us things that help manifest that reality. Have faith in what you want, and do not consider anything alternate to your desire. If you approach all of your jobs with this total confidence, others will also be more influenced to give you the part you want. There are other reasons that prayer works, but this is one of them. Confidence is essential to success. When that confidence is multiplied to a complete and total belief that you will succeed, your odds will greatly be increased, so long as your skills are equally honed.
There is much more to discuss regarding how to successfully audition, which I will cover in another issue. I hope this has helped many of you. As always, I invite you to contact my office for more free specific advice at 310-226-7176.
This story is ©2013, Bruce Edwin / The Hollywood Sentinel, all world rights reserved.