Casting and Audition FAQ

Lana Veenker: Principle Casting Director for Twilight the Movie

Twilight Lexicon Interview

Casting Q&A Update




General Casting Information:

The following was written for the Twilight Lexicon by Wolf_Boy ( with a couple of edits by Pel) to hopefully explain the casting process more clearly.

Actors who want to succeed in show business spend their whole lives perfecting their craft, If you want to be a professional actor there are many paths that can be taken, but they all begin with training. Training gives you the tools and confidence to aggressively pursue a career, Now there are many places to obtain this training from universities to  your community theatre you should do it all if possible. Never stop training.

OK so now your ready to audition for the film and television industry. if you plan on auditioning for SAG/AFTRA  film and television projects you will most likely need an agent or have a relationship with the casting director of the Film or T.V show.  There are some times that casting directors have an open audition where just anyone can show up. They are called "cattle calls".  As the name implies, events like this draw in a huge number of people and are generally more suited to contest type shows, something like American Idol. Just like Paula, Randy, and Simon are forced to sit through the totally terrible, mediocre, and great talent on days like that, so are casting directors. That’s why, in general, casting directors like to go through agents, because reputable agents won’t take on a client  who they truly believe has no talent, or they won’t waste a casting director’s time by sending in a client who is not suited to a particular role.  A casting agent would rather see a roomful of Clay Aikens and Kelly Clarksons than to have to weed through a bunch of William Hungs.

Agents Have access to what are called "Breakdowns" .  The breakdowns are sent to agents everyday. They are list of all the projects filming and what parts are needed for that film, commercial, or television series. The breakdown will give the character name and a brief description, now and agent will then go through the breakdowns and pick actors from  their files that best match the breakdown.

For example a  film called " Vampire Kiss"  a breakdown would say:

Lead: Edmond

    * tall 6’ft2
    * Caucasian
    * brown hair,
    * athletic body but not too muscular,
    * kind and sensitive, always does the the right thing

It will also give a lot of information about the project itself, such as who is the casting director, location of filming and who is the producer etc etc. Agent will then  look up all their tall caucasian actors and submit them either electronically or through a messenger service to the appropriate casting agency.
Now your head shot made it over to the casting directors office. Casting directors will first go through all the electronic submissions and mail from the agents they chose, and look through all the submissions and pick the actors they want to see from those submissions. Casting directors will then set up appointments with agents for each actor to come in and read for a part. The casting director will also electronically send "sides"( a brief part of the script") to the agency so they can give the sides to the actors that were selected from that agency.

As a chosen actor you will then prepare the sides. You work on the side before you are seen, usually a couple of  days before the actual audition. This is where all your training comes in.  I recommend you take classes for auditioning for film and television.  There are techniques on giving a great audition when being put on tape. For example making sure to stay in frame and not over doing it, the camera picks up everything, thats why training is so important. There are so many technical things involved with acting on film set besides just acting.

So it’s the day of the audition and you have prepared. You should show up early and sign in with the front desk and wait. When your name is called you introduce yourself to the casting people. When you go in the room normally there is a camera set up so they can put your audition on tape for producers to see. Now depending on the casting director they will give you some notes and you will read your sides with a person called the "reader" who will not be on the tape, but reads the other lines. The casting director will say begin when she is ready, and you start the scene.

Now most actors have the "sides" in their hand to look at if they need to, again this is where training comes in, there is an art to reading from  sides, so that you stay in the moment sound real and don’t spend the whole audition looking down at a piece of paper. Give your very best performance, and when it’s done, the casting director will make some adjustments and you do it again, sometimes five  times sometimes one time is all you get.

If they like what they see, they will then  give you a callback which is another audition usually with another actor who is also being considered. This is where  they look for things like chemistry and how well the actors work together and about a hundred other things. Sometimes you can have 3-5 callbacks as they mix and match actors and try new things .This is usually done for film, television goes much faster.

I hope you find this basic description of a typical audition for film for a beginning actor.  I just brushed the tip of the iceberg.