“Do casting directors even bother to show really bad auditions to client? Is it possible the right “look” can save a bad audition and the person can be coached?”
“I’m curious about what happens with the tapes after we read. Do you edit them into an order that you see as best to worst? Pick the top 5 or 10? What does the client see?”
What gets shared with the clients? All this info is about commercial/print/industrial type auditions. It varies from office to office, but for me, i generally share the WHOLE audition with the client. If we stop mid-take, or if something goes wrong, or if i screw something up, or if you say or do something stupid, or it’s just bad then i’ll delete that specific clip. I generally send at least 2-3 takes to the client to review. I think showing more than 1 take allows the client to see how talent take direction and adjustments. It allows clients to see a little more range from the talent and let’s them know how directable someone is. It also allows you guys, the talent, to try a few different things. They aren’t looking for you to be perfect, just that they can work with you and get what they need from you.
I typically share ALL the auditions with the client, even the ones that aren’t necessarily stellar in my eyes. We all see things differently, and while i’ve had conversations with the creative team, that doesn’t necessarily mean we will like the same people. There have been countless times that i had THOUGHT about not including someone, only to have them turn around and book just that person. You can never tell who or what is going to make the director or agency light up. Tastes and styles are different. What the agency is looking for is different than what the director is looking for which is different from what i see. So i always think its best to show more rather than less.
Sometimes they are casting multiple roles for something, and we’ll have everyone do the copy or script, even if the role they might be best for doesn’t require it. This not only gives casting the opportunity to sometimes see more from talent, but also helps expedite the entire casting day. The less options of roles in the waiting room, the less confusion that happens! They might get booked for one of the non-speaking things if their look is right, or if their acting is good in other ways and maybe they are just not great at copy. Again, like i mentioned, i often like to push people past where their comfort zone is. If you’re killing it as a print model, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t kill it on camera if it’s non-speaking, even if you’ve never done it before. It’s the same concepts :) it just takes a little bravery and slight adjustments.
The only times i have NOT shared an audition with the client is for technical reasons, like the recording quality is awful, or they didn’t do what i asked for. Or on the very rarest of occassion, when it’s painfully obvious that this poor individual is completely out of their depth, and to show the client that video would make not only the talent look foolish and be potentially embarrassing for them (the last thing i ever want is someone laughing at or making fun of talent), but me for having thought it was worth sharing. In 15 years i think i have done that a total of 4 times. And always after working whatever the audition was to DEATH with that person and knowing that this was the best it was ever going to get.
And everyone has bad days, that i totally get, and i’ve stopped mid audition a few times over the years to chat with talent and say “you’re not you today, what’s going on? I know you have it in you, and i know you’re usually way better than you are today. I KNOW you’ve got this, what are we stumbling on?“ Sometimes just that conversation, or knowing it’s ok to “reset” the audition, has been enough to get a talent back on track. Casting is here to help support you. We are only as good as you guys can make us look.
If you say something amazingly stupid, or if you swear and it’s not that kind of audition, i may go and cut that little piece out, but generally in terms of the actual audition, i do very little editing. Unless it’s a VO, and then i’ll go back and edit every single little stumble out. I’ll pull out all the mistakes and make it sound like it runs seamlessly. That’s one of the biggest VO lessons i suppose i can share with you, if you trip up, take a breath and restart you sentence. Don’t apologize or anything, just pick it up and keep going. Anyone who knows how to use a computer can pull that blip out.
Now, if it’s film/tv, especially BIG projects, sometimes the lead casting director (of the show or film - like an Avi Kaufman or Carmen Cuba) will have very specific guideline in terms of number of takes being submitted. Sometimes they only want 1 take, in which case we send the one we think is best. And the reason for this is time. Pure and simple, watching all those auditions takes a lot of time. THOSE Casting Directors are choosing which auditions make it past their gate and on to the clients. They often outsource to a local casting person (like Boston Casting, CP Casting, Slate) to cast the roles that are not being cast via LA/NY. Sometimes they may be casting in multiple cities for bigger roles. So the Lead Casting Director has to watch ALL those auditions that come in, and from there decide which ones are good enough to make it to the next level and share with the director. It also depends on the project. The bigger the project, the more gates you have to get through in order to be seen by anyone who makes decisions. To get your audition in front of a Stephen Spielberg or some other big fancy name, is a huge arduous process. To get your audition in front of an unknown, or no-name director, or even lesser known is a much easier task, they often want to see ALL the auditions.
I’m sure other offices operate differently, but i feel more is always better than less, they don’t have to watch it all, but they aren’t left feeling like they wished they could see more.