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Why they never get past your slate in a Film and TV audition

I was having coffee with a casting director friend of mine the other day. We started chatting about slates. For anyone who doesn’t know, a “slate” is when you look into the camera and state your name so the casting directors, producers and directors can keep track of everyone they’ve seen.

The casting director mentioned that when reviewing the tapes for call backs, there is no guarantee that they will watch past an actor’s slate to view the actual audition. Sounds a bit harsh, right?

When I asked her why, she said this;

“It amazes me how, in the slate, the director and I can tell right away if someone likes to be in front of the camera. As soon as they look into the lens they either are very comfortable and are open, or they shut down, and look nervous. Some directors right away will skip the person because they don’t want to deal with anyone who is not camera ready. ”

Camera ready. We often think of this as having the hair and make-up right, the lines to run, the appropriate clothes as you sit and wait for the camera to be turned on. In fact, the audition begins the moment you enter the building. Handling the nervousness, or at times, even the overconfidence, is also part of the audition. Directors and casting directors want actors who can handle extreme pressure and deliver results. If your uncomfortable speaking your name into the camera, how can they trust you to handle a challenging scene or a stressful situation on set?

If your nerves tend to get the better of you at the start of an audition practice, practice, practice. No joke. Get a friend, a camera and set it up. Practice looking into the camera and saying your name. The only way to get better at slating is…to slate. The more you do it the easier it will become and better it will go when it’s time for the real thing. I remember one student protesting “but I hate saying my name…” My advice? Change it to something you like to say or come to terms with it. That way it won’t distract you from the real work at hand, turning in a great audition tape.

The Maggie Flanigan Studio provides quality meisner acting instruction. Find out more about audition techniques by visiting the studio website.

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