How to Get an Acting Audition

I have conducted literally hundreds of auditions as a producer/director, and have tried to land a part from the other side as well. Let me walk you through the steps you need to get called in for an audition.

Headshot: Make sure that your headshot accurately reflects how you look today. You have about a second to make an impression on a producer or a casting director, which is why you need an 8x10 as your lead shot. It's fine to add a montage of four shots on the back of your printed headshot, but be careful of a trap. Use those four other shots to shot range and diversity in look and emotion. I've seen actors wearing different costumes with the same expression.

Color is an added expense that would separate you from the pack; however I have never rejected a prospective actor because his head shot was in black and white.

If you're not happy with your photos, get them redone. When you find a great headshot photographer, keep her. You want somebody who makes you feel at ease and can put you through your emotional paces the way a good director does. My own headshot shooter is Carolisa Pomerantz, who works in Hollywood.

Resume: When you are just beginning, take whatever work you can whether it's in student productions, for free or deferred. I do notice how much experience somebody has. As a director, it makes my job easier to work with people who know what to do. Even if you plan to make your living in television or film, I suggest doing theater. Why? As an actor in a play you have to memorize lines and stay in character for an evening while holding an audience's attention. I'll never forget one piece I directed where I had a scene between two veteran actors and a pretty young actress who was unused to having to remember more than one line at a time. The shooting took forever.

There is a natural tendency to inflate your resume when you are just starting, but it can have unintended consequences. For three years I produced and directed a local cable TV series of drama, comedy, news and public service announcements crewed by my students. A couple of years later when I moved on I got a resume from a performer who claimed she had a bigger role in one my production than I had given her. Guess who did not get called in?

Cover letter: It's a little thing. You can set up a generic cover letter and quickly tailor it to the needs of a production. Dear , I'm submitting my headshot for consideration in your show . I'm particularly interested in this role because it will allow me to draw upon my unique life experiences as a ____. A personal cover letter tells me that the actor has at least read the part description and also gives me an inkling as to how intelligent she is.

I have called people in I wouldn't have otherwise. For a concrete example, look at the illustration I provided for this article. It's the DVD cover for my documentary feature, "Reverse Aging Now." I auditioned the cover girl, Anne Brakeman, because of her note. In fact, although she was not the primary on screen host, the part for which she auditioned, we ended up prominently featuring her story as a former smoker turned marathoner.

Where do you hear of auditions? For years, people relied on "Dramalogue" and "Backstage"; to a lesser extent, "Variety," and "The Hollywood Reporter." Once you get an agent or manager, you will also get leads there. Other sources are Breakdown Services and Showfax.com