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A Casting Director once said, outside of a headshot, comp card or demo reel, the first time I see you will be on the slate. Therefore, it’s important to make a great first impression.
Hello again, I’m Michael Chase and this blog will focus on how to slate for your audition. Before we get started, there is something in the way of “Hollywood speak” that needs to be cleared up to alleviate confusion.
We’ve all seen clips of movies being made, where a person holds up a digital tablet (formerly made of wood with a chalkboard front) and says, “Take 3 or take 4.” That’s called a “film slate"; which is a filmmaking tool used during production to help synchronize the audio and video in post-production. Just so you're clear, this blog is addressing “audition slating.”
In the old days, pre-iPhone and digital anything, actors had to actually go to a studio, office, etc., and audition in-person. Previous 800Casting.com blogs addressed the importance of your headshot, comp card or demo reel to get you in the door. However, the next step is the audition. From the second
you open the door to the audition; you must understand that every movement you make and every word you say will be judged and graded by the Casting Director.
Congrats on getting the audition! Now, for in-person auditions, you will be asked to stand on a mark (spot on the ground where the camera is already trained on and focused). When self-taping, make sure to stand in front of your backdrop and have the camera focused where there isn’t much empty space above your head. Be aware, you may be asked to do a medium shot (waist-up), or tight (close-in) shot. Furthermore, the recent trend is to have an actor record a full body shot, then turn both directions and record profile
Next, you will be asked to slate which is actually an actor's introduction before the launch of the audition. The audition sides will most likely have a cover page, telling you what the Casting Director wants you to slate. It’s very important to follow those directions to a tee! Typically, it will be your name, age, where you reside, agent, union affiliation, etc. If it’s for a movie or theater role, you may be asked to say the role for which you are auditioning. Sounds easy right? Well, it’s not. Slating is an art form in and of itself. Slating is so important that Mike Fenton, famous Casting Director of E.T., and Back to the Future once said, “the slate can either make or break an audition.” Well said, Mike!
Whether you Google, “how should an actor slate” or read other blogs pertaining to slating, you will mostly be told to look warm and friendly. Be yourself; be natural.
When a Casting Director sees the slate, the immediate impression should be “that’s someone I’d like to get to know, someone you could be friends with – warm, happy, friendly looking.”
How an actor comes off during slate is just as important as the slate! That brings to mind A recent email from a member (actress) of 800Casting.com. She asked, “other than typical slating items requested, should I slate in character?” I must admit that’s a fabulous question, and the answer is “no.” The slate is to “show you” not the character.
In Summary, when you slate for an audition, look directly into the camera. It’s ok to go slowly and take your time. Relax and speak clearly. Your goal is to have the Casting Director remember not only your name but the tone and confidence in your voice that says, “I’m here to get the job done.”
One final note, acting is a craft but it’s also a high-pressure business. Casting Directors are constantly pushed to find that diamond in the rough. Give them the opportunity to choose you for the role. But first, you must “nail the slate!”