The world has changed. Once, audition hopefuls crammed together in waiting rooms for a one-minute chance in front of the directors. Now the landscape of auditions has moved to the digital realm. Has this become an advantage for aspiring artists? And what really provides an edge in this new phenomenon?
By Andrew Cook
Auditions have always been a stressful ordeal. Rising before dawn, commuting to another city, loading up on caffeine to maintain optimum concentration, rehearsing lines and songs repeatedly on the trains and buses, waiting in line for hours, and finally, a psychological war of intimidation between themselves and the competition. Hours of preparation and gruelling work for the chance of a lifetime in front of a casting director.
Covid-19 has altered everything.
While not necessarily a brand new phenomenon, online auditions have now become a far greater feature in today’s auditions. Previously, sending videos and recordings was acceptable if you or your agent were already well known, with panels requiring face-to-face contact from the vast majority of artists. With the shift onto a digital platform, artists of all forms now face a very different style of auditioning, and knowing how to adapt to these changes, will be the key to success in upcoming casting calls.
But it’s not the same!
True. Online auditions are not the same, but what they do offer is a broad range of advantages for both the talent and the directors. While artists now save themselves the stress of commuting and travelling, so too, do directors. They now are saving themselves from obtaining a venue, and commuting there with producers, casting assistants, and camera operators. Directors now have a more leisurely time browsing potential artists (which is a godsend for artists, as cantankerous, sleep-deprived directors are the bane of auditions).
There are many advantages to exploit , but perhaps the single largest benefit involves the increased casting pool. Now directors can peruse audition videos, and perform interviews with talent from across a vast geographical range. Previously being limited to location, and those financially solvent enough to travel to auditions, struggling artists can now showcase themselves without worrying about bankrupting themselves on travel.
Many directors and artists have already employed digital auditions to great success. Emma Stone landed her role in Easy A via online audition. Emma Roberts in Scream 4 auditioned via a Skype meeting, and Josefina Scaglione in the Broadway revival of West Side Story was discovered by the director Arthur Laurents from Youtube! Now, more than ever, we will see greater numbers of stars launched to success through online auditions.
There are currently two types of online auditions available. The first are from pre-recorded tapes, the second are active online auditions being conducted via live-stream to the directors. but the principles of success remain the same.
In normal auditions, the artist has the disadvantage. The space does not belong to the artist. To stride into an unfamiliar area, and bring forth another personality, leaves a candidate incredibly vulnerable. Online auditions offer a calming advantage. Artists can, and indeed must, prepare their space for hours, or even days beforehand. Fixing the background, knowing the area, feeling at home enough to pour out emotions, this evens the playing field with directors. It makes an audition feel less like an inquisition. With preparation, and the correct mindset, an artist can showcase themselves with a conversation, and help restore any power imbalance they would feel in a standard audition.
This also provides the chance to take risks. Directors now have access to greater numbers of audition hopefuls, so standing out is the only option. Artists must now become more liberal in their performances. Being unique and memorable through any way possible is imperative in this online age.
Setting up is a priceless advantage. Artists cannot afford to simply sit at a table, turn on a laptop, and hope their monologue will dazzle a director – planning ahead on staging allows you to exhibit professionalism.
The chance to feel comfortable in a home environment must be exploited. Movement around a room, body language, and everything an artist can muster on a stage, must be presented in the greatest degree possible.
Preparation time now belongs to artists. Normal auditions require awareness of everything occurring around them during the audition process. Vocal warmups and line recitals can’t encompass all their attention, lest they miss the call out for their audition slot. With online apps such as Zoom, the waiting room allows time for personal preparation without loss of concentration.
Perhaps time is spent contemplating the emotions of a monologue, perhaps the vocal warmups need additional care. Relaxed breathing, moving around a room to gain energy, anything and everything possibly required for the artist is now available during these private moments. This personal time is invaluable, and if used properly, can make the difference between that big break, and just another unsuccessful attempt.
Is it here to stay?
Time will tell. Perhaps this era will change the face of auditions forever. Online auditions, if successful could become the new norm for future generations. Or perhaps when all is said and done, the digital audition will fade into obscurity, with directors citing the need for face-to-face time with candidates.
Truth be told we have no way of knowing. What is certain, is that candidates must seize this advantage provided by fate. Rarely do the Arts see such a boon, and for those who are willing to put in the effort, these current online auditions could the stepping stone to fame and an illustrious career in their field.