Casting Process

Hollywood Star Auditions

This is a look at how the well oiled casting process is supposed to work in Hollywood and anywhere a movie or TV show is cast. Actors are needed for each role and a search begins to find just the right person. This page shows how it is supposed to work. Use this as a framework for your approach. Then go to the next page to see what actually happens. You will need to know both.

Got a thick skin? You will need it if you decide to become an actor in Hollywood. I am sure you will need it in other cities as well if you decide to make a living as a performer who gets work through auditions.

Sometimes you will be "too old" or "too young" or "too tall" or "too short." I have been all of those and more at different auditions. I also have read for parts where I just did not have a good reading. I was not right. I was a lousy actor. I was too wooden. I stank.

A friend of mine who lived to age 95 was an actor and extra in Hollywood for more than 60 years. Speaking about auditions, he once told me, "You'll get about one in twenty." I never quite got one in twenty. I probably got one in thirty or forty auditions. I think the reason for that is partly because I am not a great actor and partly because now most commercial auditions read 40 or more actors for each part. Most of the auditions I go on are for commercials.

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Be sure to check Makin' it in Hollywood. That is a good place to begin.

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Auditions and Callbacks

The Hollywood Audition

When a movie or TV show or commercial needs an actor, (Anywhere I use the word "actor" I might also mean "actress.") the producer or director contacts the casting agency they have decided to use for the project. The casting director at the agency contacts various agents who represent actors. (There are two types of agencies involved in the process of casting. The casting agency is an office where a casting agent sets up an audition for each part in a production. The actor's agent finds out who is holding an audition and sends his actor/client to the audition.)

The casting director videotapes the actors who are auditioning. Each actor "slates." That means the actor tells his name and looks directly into the camera and gives a right and left profile of his face. The casting director then chats small talk with the actor and then has the actor perform the scene. If the casting director feels there is a different feeling required, the actor is told to add or change something. The scene is redone and the actor leaves. The actor signs in for the audition and signs out when he leaves. The actor is encouraged to ask questions about the role if he has a confusion about something.

The actor brings his 8X10 headshot and resume to each audition and callback. The actor sees his competition in the waiting room and while they are waiting for their audition they often exchange stories about who is casting for what. The actors have to wait sometimes for an hour or more past the audition time before they are seen. Union actors are paid if the audition goes beyond two hours.

The casting director chooses the best of the performances from his or her viewpoint and shows the video to the director or producer of the project. The director picks about 5 or 10 people to have a "callback." Those actors read again and the director chooses someone from the callback to be in the production. Go to Casting, Page 2 (how it's actually done).