Auditions can be a tricky process. Seeing how an actor can really make or break the film, the auditions are also one of the most important processes a filmmaker will undergo during his journey to create. Different actors bring different aspects to the characters, some good and some not so good. What's important is to not only see those different aspects, but to bring them out full force. Therefore to help bring the most out of the actors auditioning, I have implemented a few key steps to the process.
1. Never Send Out Sides - Many people have argued with me about this, including actors. They tell me that I have to give the actors sides prior to the auditions. Instead I give them the sides at the audition. The reason for this is simple: I don't want the actors memorizing the lines. When an actor starts to memorize the lines for an auditions one of two things can happen. They either come in with no charisma, just trying to vomit up the words they have spent hours in front of a mirror practicing, or they come in with too many ideas, they have thought too much about the character and get lost in their own imagination. By giving them their sides right then and there I am forcing them to go with their gut, that way I can get a true feel for what that actor will bring to the character.
2. Give Them Existing Material - For the sides I will often give out dialogue from other sources (i.e. TV Shows, Films, Etc...). This is another aspect of my auditions that some people don't always understand. I will search for scenes featuring characters that may be similar to the characters present in my film. When the actors go over the scene, I look for what he/she is doing different from how the character was originally portrayed. This allows me to not only get a real sense of how the actor will do, but it also gives me a chance to re-evaluate how I want my character portrayed.
3. Don't Act Out The Scene - Specifically don't act out the scene using another actor. If later on in the audition process you want to see how different actors work off each other that is fine, but for the first audition I leave the actors alone. This is because I don't want the actor working off a second party. Instead I have someone next to me (usually a producer) read the lines with the actor from behind the head table. By doing this I allow the actor to be free and therefore I can watch for things he/she does. I pay attention to if they sit, stand, or creates an environment for themselves. I pay attention to their facial expressions. I pay attention to every little detail.
4. Go A Second Time - I always have the actors read through the lines a second time, and I give them no feedback. I do this to allow the actors to try something different, go through with a better understanding, or even just repeat the same thing over.
5. Get to Know the Person - I always set aside a few minutes at the end of an audition to just talk to the actors, get to know them. One reason I do this is so I can get to know with whom I may be working with. Another reason is so I can get a feel for who they are and what makes them tick, to see if they will be a good fit for the character.
These are just some tools I have implemented during my own auditions. I am not saying that these are laws, not even close. These are just some avenues through which I have found success.