7 Audition Tips from Amy Hubbard

Amy Hubbard has carved out a seriously impressive career in casting – you’ve more than likely watched a film or series she’s worked on.  I’ve been writing to her since 2008, so I was excited to attend her recent casting workshop through ActorsCollab.  It was great to perform a scene from one of her current projects and get direct feedback from the renowned casting director as well as some of her top audition tips.  Here’s my takeaway:

  1. Embrace the self-tape.  It’s here to stay and Amy loves them.
  2. Be 1000% off book.  Amy wants to see the character in the moment, not an actor looking at the page or struggling to remember lines.   You’ll also be freed up to listen better – Amy reiterates the age old adage: “90% of acting is listening”.
  3. Underplay.  Amy often has to reassure actors that doing less is more – be brave, think ‘documentary’.  There’s a temptation to ‘show’ what we can do.  Don’t.  There doesn’t have to be a gear change or emotional climax.  Even if the entire scene plays at one pitch it can be enough.
  4. Ask questions if needed.  A good one is, “Where should this performance be pitched?” (in terms of energy and mood).  Or if you get multiple takes, “Was that last one too big?”
  5. Ignore the writer’s stage directions.  Always.  They are not performance notes.  Writers use them to clarify their ideas to readers – particularly those who can green-light their script.  You the actor must listen to the urge that motivates your own unique actions.
  6. Keep it snappy.  The people watching your tape have tonnes to do and a limited amount of time.  Give the scene it’s due, but avoid gratuitous pauses or time-taking.  Amy quotes Peter Jackson in this regard: “No scene can’t be improved with a bit of pace”
  7. Confidence is key.  You will land the role based primarily on confidence, then your talent and only then whether you’re actually right for the part.   Amy wants her clients to know, “You can hit the ground running with this one!”  Be confident in yourself and your ideas.  The room is yours.  Don’t apologize.  If you fluff something,  just let ’em know you’re starting again and blow them away.
Good luck!

7 Steps to Find Your Casting Type

Image: Pawn by Jeffrey Mundell

In this ultra-competitive entertainment industry, knowing your casting type gives you an edge. It identifies the roles in which you truly shine and allows you to focus on opportunities where you have the best chance of success.

Here’s a practical guide to help you identify or update your casting type:

Step 1:

Look over this list of character types and write down all the types that describe you – there will probably be a lot.  Now cut your list down to the 40 that describe you best and discard the rest.

Step 2:

Think of the shows you watch or the books you read.  Make a list of the characters who make you think, “I’m that” or, “I would be great at playing that”.  Are these types on your list of 40 from Step 1?  If not, add them.

Step 3:

What character types have you played so far?  Is there a common thread to how you’re cast?  Are these types on your list of 40 from Step 1?  If not, add them.

Step 4:

Take a good look over your list.  Choose only the 10 character types that fit you best and discard the rest.

Step 5:

Time to get creative: put your 10 character types into sentences.  Elaborate on their qualities.  Do some of them go together well?  Can they fit in the same sentence?  Don’t worry if the end result is messy – you should end up with a big, clunky paragraph describing a remit of characters that you’d have a great time playing.

Step 6:

Now rework that clunky mess into an elegant paragraph of 3 to 4 sentences.  This process may take time.  You’ll probably find you go back and forward through the steps as your ideas become clearer and you improve your descriptions (thesaurus.com is very useful for finding words that work even better).

Step 7:

Now that you have your paragraph, it’s time to create a single sentence or phrase that sums it all up. This will be your casting type in its simplest and clearest form. Make it exciting and memorable. Try the following format to get you started: “I’m best at playing [this kind of character] who [does this kind of thing].”

For example, in my case: “I’m best at playing troubled outsiders who don’t know when to quit.”

Again, this process may take time and you should go through a number of versions until you hit the one that resonates the strongest. When you’re done you’ll have your casting type and a great paragraph to elaborate on it.

Good luck!