Audition Tips from Mike Kovac
We get asked sometimes what you should expect going into an audition. Some actors have had training, but it still doesn’t always prepare you for walking into that room. In the past, we’ve asked casting directors their tips and they’ve given detailed and helpful answers. But it still doesn’t always explain exactly how the actor feels standing in front of that row of people, or what to expect.
This time, we asked an actor who has been working in the industry a few years. You might recognize the enigmatic Mike Kovac from his guest appearances in “The Haunting Hour”, “Supernatural” and “Hellcats”. He also started in the current cult hit “Mon Ami” which is currently winning multiple awards in the festival circuit. Mike has played everything from a crazy clown, to a serial killer, an evil, power hungry high school tyrant, to even the charismatic best friend. He’s been working in the Vancouver industry for years now, and has moved through the audition circuit here many times. On top of his credits as an actor, Mike has also worked on and off for casting directors as a reader. So he’s definitely been on both sides of the table.
We asked him to explain what goes through his mind leading up to and during an audition. In his usual humorous way, he gave us exactly what we asked for.
The Actor’s Audition:
by: Mike Kovac
The following is a basic play-by-play of what can happen inside an actor’s mind as they enter into the audition process:
Ah yes, another fine day in the life of a working actor. Reading scripts, taking classes, trying to netwo- what’s this? A phone call from my agent!?! Audition?! YES! Let the auditioning commence!
Part 1: The Day Before. Alright, I have eighteen hours to memorize three scenes made up of eight pages – totally doable. Scene one appears to be the introduction of the character. It’s an episodic annnnnd I’m robbing a bank. Perfect! I love these gigs. Scene two looks like mainly exposition… A lot of exposition… Wow, that’s a boatload of exposition. How the heck do you pronounce alcindoromycine barrelene? And in scene three I give a heartfelt confession of guilt and then… “The Robber gets blown limb from limb while a single teardrop falls from his eye in a final flash.”… Maybe there will be a chair I can use…
Part 2: The Waiting Room. Okay, I think I got this. Headshots – check. Resumes – check. Sides – check. Appropriate-but-not-over-the-top-robber-esque-costume-choice – check. Jeez, there are a lot of people in here. Everyone looks like me! Who are all these people? Oh, I think I recognize that one… I see that guy at every audition I go to… Criminy, I think that dude’s a regular of Supernatural. Forget about it. Concentrate! Focus on the work. Right… So do I bring all these sides in with me? I don’t want to seem like I didn’t memorize the lines. I won’t bring them in… But what if I forget a cue? Better bring them in just in case. My pocket? – Perfect. Good old pocket, always there for me. Why does that guy have so much written on his sides? It looks like he was translating it into Latin! There’s something written over every word and- Sorry? My turn? Yes, I’m ready.
Part 3: The Casting Room. “Hello, it’s nice to meet you.” (Don’t shake hands unless offered, don’t shake hands unless offered, don’t shake hands unless– annnd they offered. Shake hands. Good handshakes. Oooh, none for that guy. He’s the producer… Alrighty then.) There are NO chairs.
First scene… I think that went well…? It felt like I was creepy. I imagine that’s what they’re going for. Second scene… Damn you alcindoromycine barrelene! Hopefully none of them are chemists. Alcindoromycine basketane is pretty dang close, right? Third scene… Man, I wish I had a chair. How can I be “strapped to an office chair with the bomb mounted underneath” without a chair? Let’s make this work! Boom.
Part 4: The Aftermath. Well that… Happened. Don’t forget to sign out. Try to regain some semblance of regular breathing. Yes, you were just blown limb from limb but that’s over now. Wish my few acquaintances luck as they get ready, while not being too invasive. Give the Agent a call and give them an update. What’s this? Another audition tomorrow!? Amazing! One page… One line… “The truck’s going to be here tonight.” Excellent.
Things to take away from all of this: (Mike’s Audition Tips)
1.) Rejoice in the work that has been given to you. Whether it’s a ten-page monologue or a silent-on-camera look of indifference, be thankful that you have the opportunity to show your stuff.
2.) Research the work that has been given to you as much as possible… But not to an insane degree. Know what you are talking about in the scene.
3.) Read everything on those sides and read it all out loud. It seriously helps. Don’t just skip to the parts where you get to talk. Take the work seriously and give it the attention it deserves. Does it pay to know how to pronounce alcindoromycine barrelene? Absolutely.
4.) Don’t worry about the other people in the audition room. There is nothing you can do about them or what they are bringing to the table. Concentrate on your own process.
5.) Always bring your sides into the audition room. No matter how confident you are with your memorization, things can always change. As an occasional reader for casting directors myself, I am always nervous to see an actor stride in sans script. I’m just waiting for them to forget something.
6.) Don’t shake hands unless offered.
7.) Strange actions are bound to come up in scenes you’re going to be auditioning with – Do the best you can with what you’re trying to convey. Remember that there’s nothing wrong with asking reasonable questions. There is usually a chair present in most audition rooms – but don’t count on anything physical that you are expecting casting to provide to make or break a scene for you. You are responsible for your own work.
8.) There are no “rules.” There are trends and expectations, for sure… But no solid rules. It could be said that this industry is built on significant individuals breaking the “rules.” Just be sure that if you do buck a trend or expectation that you’re ready to back it up.