The Pre-Read With The Casting Director

In this video Holly Powell guides actors through the process of pre-reading for a casting director.

The pre-read with the Casting Director is usually held in the Casting Directors office. You are usually being “pre-read” by the Casting Director because she doesn’t know your work or has not seen you do this kind of part before. This office is often a small room and you usually see a lot of other actors waiting in the lobby. I always say the lobby of the casting office is your first line of defense. You will see all those other actors just waiting to sabotage you. You must stay mentally focused in the lobby to avoid the pitfalls of self sabotage. You see the actor across the lobby that you recognize, you notice what the other actors are wearing, and you hear the casting assistant on the phone checking the availability of a “name” actor for the part you are auditioning for. And you say to yourself…”I’m never going to get this part. That actor has a lot more experience than me!”

Make sure you stay focused in the lobby on your own choices and avoid the chit chat with other actors. Get into the mental focus of an athlete. When your name is called enter the audition room with CONFIDENCE. This is where the audition starts…from the moment you walk into the room.

Please make sure you do not enter the room in character, but in a hybrid state of being a focused actor ready to go as well as a pleasant person open to whatever the Casting Director throws your way. If chit chat happens make sure that when chatting is over, you take your 5 to 10 seconds to get back your mental focus before you start the scene. Making as much eye contact with the Casting Director or whoever is reading with you during your audition is key. I hate the word memorize, because actors who try to “memorize” the scene usually are constantly searching their heads for the right words during the audition, instead of thinking what their intention is in the scene. But, KNOW IT. Please remember, we don’t audition you to see if you can memorize lines. We audition you to see if you are at all right for the part and want an actor to come in prepared with their own unique choices. Hold the scene in your hand in a comfortable way and glance down and grab the line if needed. The best auditions are the ones when you forget the paper is in the actors hands.

The Casting Director has been hired by the Producers to find the cast for their pilot or series. They can often be hassled, under slept, and with a lot of pressure to hurry up and find the cast. So walking into the pre-read with the Casting Director can sometimes be filled with mixed signals. The Casting Director may have just gotten off the phone with the Network Casting office saying they don’t like their choices so far. The Executive Producer may have just called and said they have written all new sides and want all the actors to have the new material in the session that starts in half an hour. So understand that the Casting Director can be pulled in many different directions between the Network, Studio, Producers and Director. The actor views the Casting Director as their “gate keeper” to getting into the ballgame, I know. But know that the Casting Director can often unwittingly be their own worst enemy by falling victim to this tug of war. Hear me when I say…the Casting Director wants you to be “IT”. They want you to be the one to solve their problem. So even if you get thrown a hostile glance or they are not even looking at you, be focused and ready to go when you walk in the door.

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