I got a firm reminder today about asking clarifying questions while auditioning a “VanCity” commercial with casting director Sean Milliken. Halfway through the audition I suddenly realized that I’d been told by my agent to prepare the wrong role, and had to completely shift gears with the camera still rolling and hope nobody noticed. It surprised me, and rattled me a little, and it could all have been avoided if I’d asked a clarifying question.
It was a multi-character audition, and we were going in four at a time. Some of the characters had lines, some were “silent on camera” or SOC. Four of us went in and Sean gave us the quick rundown on what to do, and *that* is where clarifying questions come in. If there’s anything that you’re unsure about in an audition, or even if you just want to confirm what you already know, your opportunity to ask questions is right after the casting director finishes explaining what you’ll be doing. It’s your job as an actor to make sure you do good auditions, and so you have the right to ask appropriate questions. Read the script carefully, listen to what the casting director tells you, and if you still have questions ask with confidence “is XYZ what you want?” without apologizing for yourself or being pushy. Even if the casting director is rushed or a little grumpy, it’s better to ask a clarifying question than to do the wrong thing in the audition.
In the case of my audition with Sean this morning, I could have asked “Am I still reading for Doug?” and saved myself a lot of grief. As it was, the camera was on another actor during my ‘moment of revelation’ and so nobody noticed my surprise and it wasn’t an issue. But it served as a good reminder for next time.
Better to ask a question than make a mistake.
-Michael Bean, Head Coach, Biz Studio