8 Audition Warning Signs Every Director Should Know

Finding the right actor to play the role is tough enough.  Just as much as we focus on each actor’s look, voice, and overall performance, we also need to consider his or her work ethic. You always want to find an actor who is willing to collaborate, try new things, and leave the attitude at the door.  

The audition process is a short period of time relative to the length of a film shoot, so you have only a short time to read each actor.

Use the casting process to find an actor who:

  • fits the role
  • has a good work ethic
  • is excited about the project
  • understands the financial limitations of a low budget project
  • acknowledges the intense schedule
  • need to sacrifice outside activities for the sake of shooting the film

If an actor has even the slightest reservation about any of these points in the audition, no matter how small, then chances are good that these problems will recur later in production when it’s too late to recast.

There are a number of warning signs to look out for during and after the audition:

  1. If you’re shooting a low-budget movie, first, always be honest and up front about how much you can afford to pay each actor. Beware of the actor who questions the lack of pay and expresses concern about his financial ability to get involved – If he behaves as though he is doing you a favor by being in your movie, recast the part immediately.
  2. An experienced actor who patronizes you, especially if you’re new to filmmaking, is an immediate warning sign that can develop into a major problem on set. It is difficult for you to do your job when the actor constantly questions your experience and skill set.
  3. Actors who question the project’s time requirements or mention a job schedule that may be difficult to work around may not show up on set if their boss schedules them to work.
  4. Actors with no prior experience may seem excited at first, but the time demands and intensity on set may turn them away from the project later.
  5. Actors who want rewrites of the script before learning and understanding their characters are not interested in your vision but their own. They may not take direction well and may attempt to undermine you on set.
  6. An actor who shows up late to the auditions may have difficulty committing to the scheduled production times.
  7. Actors who show up to auditions without memorized monologues, headshots, or resumes are ill-prepared.  A bad work ethic in the audition could mean a bad work ethic on set.
  8. Be especially wary of people who arrive “off the street” with only a Polaroid or family picture. They are not professionals.

If you notice any of these warning signs, no matter how subtle, seriously consider casting a different actor. It’s better to recast in the audition phase then halfway into production.


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