Work one-on-one with Ben Hopkin

Private Sessions

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Deer in the Headlights (a.k.a. the Auditioning Process)


As much as we'd like to ignore it sometimes, auditioning is what a successful acting career hinges around, at least at first.  Learning how to go in and present ourselves to oftentimes complete strangers, bare our souls and have them judge how well we did it.

And right there, in a nutshell, is the problem.  At least on some subconscious level, that's how most of us view the auditioning process.  And while there may be a tiny shred of truth in there, it's so hidden with raging levels of fear and self-loathing that it's almost unrecognizable as what it really is.

Because that's not really the auditioning process at all.  Auditioning, from the casting director's, producer's or director's standpoint is much closer to the following:  you have a project, you need good actors that fit your vision, you'd like to be able to enjoy the process as much as possible.

There's only one small part of the process that involves someone judging us as actors.  The rest is about vision, the right fit, and good attitude.

Want to know how much of the audition is usually about your acting?  About the first 30 seconds or so.  That's it.  Everything else is used to evaluate the rest of the puzzle.  Does the actor take direction well?  Will he or she fit in with the rest of the cast (looks-wise and style-wise)?  Is this an actor that's going to pull massive diva/divo fits?  Can I stand this person for the next 3 months (feature) to 3 years or more (tv series)?

And guess what?  The more we go in with fear, the less likely the answers to any of those questions will be positive.  When we're afraid, we radiate that fear in some really unappealing ways.  Not only does the fear affect our ability to open up and connect in terms of our acting, it makes us stiff.  When we're stiff, we don't take direction well, we feel isolated (not good as far as figuring out the fit with the rest of the cast), we're much more likely to be needy (diva/divo) and our energy will be uncomfortable to be around (unpleasant 3 months to 3 years).  Ick.

So, really, the auditioning process is almost less about our talent and acting skill and more about our ability to let go of fear.

I've had some great experiences lately during auditions that I think could be really helpful, so I've decided to hold an online workshop on auditioning technique.  I'll make sure that it's inexpensive, seeing how the economy's still in the crapper (despite the geniuses that say the recession ended in '09).  If you're interested, comment here (leave your twitter handle or an email) or just watch the stream closely.  In fact, if you do leave a comment, I'll give you an additional 50% off for the workshop!

In the meantime, keep breathing, and remember that no one can take away from us our sense of self-worth, even if they try.


  1. Ben, thanks for explaining this so well. I've often heard that CD's want us to be good, want us to succeed because then their job is done, but it's hard to really believe and understand that as an auditioning actor (who is dealing with fear, self-judgment and doubt). It's much easier to understand all the different factors that a CD is considering IN ADDITION to our acting skills. If we do our acting homework, the rest is about being a good fit for the job. That definitely makes it easier to set the fear aside and get to work!

    I could definitely use help with the auditioning process so please keep me posted on class news. Thanks again!


  2. Great post Ben!
    I've taken so many acting classes to help me be a natural and truthful actor. But, even if I were the best actor in the world, I could still totally mess up auditions because of fear.
    I can definitely need all the help I can get!

  3. Thanks so much for posting! I'll have to take a look at this the next time I go into an audition because I made me feel much calmer about the process. I appreciate the words of wisdom!

    I'd be interested in learning more about your course as well. Feel free to e-mail me at