6 Real Auditions Gone Horribly Wrong

My latest Backstage Expert column is whipping up a firestorm in comments on the Backstage website!

I knew I was writing it with a cheekier tone than my norm, but some feel it comes across as offensive. Have a read and see what you think:

6 Real Auditions Gone Horribly Wrong

Casting Director Lana Veenker reveals disastrous actor choices in the audition room…and what to do instead.

By Lana Veenker | Dec. 6, 2012

1. Kissing the client is never okay.

  • Situation: The actor insisted on kissing my hand—even when I tried to pull away—then grabbed my producer’s hand and slobbered on hers, too!
  • Thought Process: The actor thought it would make him memorable. It did…for all the wrong reasons.
  • Why it didn’t work: Germs! Eww!
  • What to do instead: Enter, wave a quick hello, and find your mark. If we make a move to shake hands, great. Otherwise, assume we are germaphobic and don’t want your clammy hand in ours.

Link to full article.

There’s at least one actor who gets my obscure sense of humor, having posted on her Facebook that “There should be a Portlandia skit that rolls all six of these into one disastrously wonderful audition fail.”

YES! Exactly!

Now imagine Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein in an audition room, and reread the article. Still offensive?

More importantly, are you likely to ever make these mistakes yourself, now that you’ve read about them?

What do you think: Should I stick to my usual warm and fuzzy ways, or kick up some dust from time to time? What’s the more effective approach, from a learning standpoint?

Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below.



PS: Oh, and Backstage inexplicably changed “he” to “they” in example #4. The sentence should read: “The director told me he didn’t have enough time left on Earth to risk having his ear talked off on set.”

14 Responses to 6 Real Auditions Gone Horribly Wrong

  1. Chas Thompson says:

    You know you’re dealing with a sensitive lot when __________________.

  2. Sandra Doolittle Moreau says:

    If one wants to kick up dust to be memorable while auditioning, they have to perfect opportunity to do so while in character. If they sell short the opportunity they are given to audition for the premiere casting director in our area, they are severely lacking in confidence and ability and default to tricks or ridiculous compromise, such as the willful tossing away of dignity

  3. Chelsey Rae says:

    I LOVED IT!!! Keep articles like this coming! Honest & Hilarious!
    One of my dance teachers in school, encouraged a handshake after an audition…Now I know it’s not always a positive….I only wished I’d read this before my audition at Meals for Monologs Wednesday afternoon!! It was my first acting audition for a casting agency, now I know better! (I tired to shake your hand..oopsie! soooo sorry!)
    Handshakes seem so normal for our culture but, if you think about it, it’s really quite personal and invasive…thanks for the new perspective!

  4. admin says:

    No worries, Chelsey! I was deathly ill and didn’t want to spread germs. Casting offices can be worse than grade schools and doctors offices for picking up the plague.

  5. Henrik Plau says:

    I really enjoy articles that are this honest. From a learning standpoint I think we benefit a lot more from hearing things the way they are then having it sugarcoated. More of this!:)

  6. Scott Gerard says:

    I say kick up some dust from time to time. This business is not for hand holding, unless you qualify for a Coogan account. I appreciate when CD’s are direct and honest. That way I can be honest with myself.

  7. Cheeky Monkey :) says:

    I’d love to see a 5th and final subhead for each of the six stories: “Who I should have called in instead, the reasons I didn’t, and why that does or does not mean that I sometimes do my job horribly wrong, too.”

  8. I’ve worked with some of those people and common sense isn’t a trait everyone has, so articles like this are necessary. I always wonder “what went wrong” when I’m not cast (thankfully, none of the article’s faux pas) and it’s nice to get an insiders perspective.

    Honesty is appreciated and this is definitely the wrong business if you have a fragile ego. Good article, Lana, thank you.

  9. Mark Richert says:

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with this article. It’s funny and informative. For people to lash out at you over “desperate actor” and “clammy hands” (really?!), then decide they know you from looking at your photo, it really shows that they are the ones with issues.

  10. Kevin Conan Dailey says:

    WOW! I can’t believe people would actually think these things are okay! Method acting is one thing but getting jacked up on drugs thats nothing to do with Method acting thats just irrational thinking!

  11. Julie Partin says:

    Yes, it was informative, but yes – it also felt a little degrading. It made it seem like the CD loathes the lowly actor and cannot wait until they leave the room to talk bad about them. If this is how the process works then it is definitely good to know but Backstage is a place where aspiring actors go to better themselves and increase their chances of success. That is not going to happen with the mentality that the snarkiness perpetuates. If you meet people fearing they are going to hate you, sometimes it becomes a self-fulling prophecy. Thanks for writing though. Your perspective is invaluable.

  12. Brian Coffey says:

    Lana –
    I read teh backstage article and a lot of the comments and it seems most of the dustup came from folks who are still failry young to the business (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). However, since I also direct and teach (and have been a reader for casting), I’ve seen instances of these sort of behaviors and I think some folks forget just how many people a CD sees in a day. You’re not a politican, so do you really want to shake a hundred hands during the course of a day? (Basing off Equity open call guidelines, it comes out to about 144 in an 8 hour day.) I have good friends who are CD’s and when I go in, most of them don’t shake my hand or hug me (They will later on at a coffee shop or bar, but the room is a workspace). Some off-kilter behavior works on occasion, which is just enough to allow some actors to think they can”act out” in the room. I’ve heard stories of people with guns, high or drunk, stripping. climbiing ontpo the table, storming in or out, etc. The folks who think you are disrespectufl probably haven’t been on the other side of the table (bit that’s just a guess).
    Just keep doing what you do. Don’t worry about causing a dust-up now and again. Life is short!

  13. Brittany says:

    I read through the article and when I came to the first comment, I was really surprised that anyone could be offended by it. It is a great article with anecdotes that actually happened. Love it. Articles like this are incredibly helpful and entertaining! Thanks for writing!

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