Your child’s first film audition should be a moment of excitement; the time has come for them to step into the spotlight and make their mark in cinema. However, it’s extremely normal for feelings of nervousness and fear to creep in, and as a parent, it’s important to know how to help your children navigate these emotions. In this post, we’ll explain what to expect from the audition process, how to prepare and ways to provide emotional support and encouragement.
Understanding the Audition Process
The first step towards preparing for an audition is learning what to expect from the process, as this can help you plan out your child’s routine in the lead-up to the big day. First, your aspiring star will receive parts of the script, which they should memorise. While it’s true that your child could simply read directly from the script, this is not advised — memorising their lines will allow them to look towards the camera throughout and act more engagingly, increasing their chances of securing the role.
After receiving the script, the audition itself could be conducted in two different ways. The first is the more traditional method, an in-person audition; you’ll be given a time slot and location, and once there, your child will perform in front of members of the production team. An alternative audition process is first to send in a self-tape, a video recording of your child performing the section of the script they have been given.
If the audition goes well, your child might be invited to participate in a second audition, often known as a callback. While this can be conducted via video again, callbacks are much more likely to happen in person. During a callback, your child might be expected to learn and recite an entirely different part of the script, so it’s important to ensure they’re ready to memorise a new section if needed.
While auditions for film are similar to those carried out for other types of acting opportunities, such as theatre, the production team’s expectations might differ. For example, for theatre, your child should aim to project their voice and be more dramatic in their movements and facial expressions, as they will be expected to portray their character in a way that’s entertaining to an audience often seated far away from the stage. In contrast, for on-screen opportunities, their acting should be more subtle; every small movement and shift in emotion will be picked up by the camera, so it’s important to remain engaging without appearing too “over the top”. It can be helpful to work with an experienced acting coach to ensure your child understands these differences and is prepared for all opportunities.
Preparing for the Audition
As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect when preparing for an audition. Your child’s focus should be to rehearse, rehearse and rehearse some more. In this section, we’ll share some tips that can help you guide your child while preparing for their first film audition.
Get to Know the Character
First and foremost, work with your child to understand who the character really is. Ask questions such as:
- Where are they from?
- How old are they?
- What is their personality like?
- What are their likes and dislikes?
- What challenges have they overcome?
- Why do they act a certain way?
- What role do they play in the story?
Coming up with answers to all of these questions will give your child a solid understanding of who the character is that they are auditioning for.
Learn the Script
As we discussed previously, memorising their lines can significantly boost your child’s chances of being invited for a callback and eventually getting cast for the role. If this doesn’t come naturally for your child, you might need to experiment with different learning techniques. For example, writing out the lines might help them to remember the script, or perhaps listening to an audio recording of the lines might lead to more success, particularly if your child finds reading more challenging. There’s no “right way” to learn lines, so don’t be afraid to try different methods until you find one that works for them.
Improvise with the Character
A great way to become comfortable portraying a character is to participate in improvisation sessions. While learning the lines in the script should be the priority, you can also act out other scenarios with your child so that they can explore how their character might react in different situations. This is extremely helpful for allowing them to become comfortable with the character, develop their personality and act in a way that appears more natural.
Work With an Acting Coach
Your child might already be in acting classes, but one-to-one lessons with an acting coach can be instrumental in helping them build confidence and become more comfortable in the role. An acting coach will help them learn their lines, prepare for the audition process, and perfect their acting technique. What’s more, an acting coach won’t be afraid to offer constructive criticism when needed, which is a vital part of improvement and learning.
It’s important that before heading into their first film audition, your child feels comfortable and confident about the process. A positive mindset can make a significant difference in their performance in the audition and increase their chances of progressing. With this in mind, one of the best ways to build confidence is to encourage your child to think positively about the audition and their acting capabilities. Positive affirmations can be a simple way for children to learn to appreciate their talents and personality traits, setting them up for success in the acting world. Positive affirmations are self-affirming phrases intended to be spoken out loud to promote feelings of positivity, happiness and confidence. An easy affirmation to teach a child preparing for their first audition is “I am a great actor”. This phrase is intended to give them self-confidence, belief in their abilities and motivation to pursue their dreams.
Another way to build confidence is to conduct practice auditions. Try to recreate an environment similar to a real audition and play the role of the production team leading the audition. This will serve as not only another rehearsal to help your child learn their lines and get comfortable with the role but also as a way to ensure they know what to expect from the audition process and become comfortable with performing in front of others. If the audition is planned to be conducted in the form of a self-tape or film practice version, an added benefit of this is being able to watch the footage back and identify areas for improvement.
Stage fright is incredibly common in the entertainment industry and can significantly limit confidence. There are many strategies to tackle stage fright, including practising as much as possible. In addition, work with your child on tackling feelings of self-doubt and teach them ways to manage their fears — breathing exercises, for example, can be an effective way to manage anxious feelings.
What to Bring to an Audition
In addition to rehearsals and mentally preparing for the audition, your child must be practically prepared, particularly if they’re attending an audition in person. In this section, we’ll outline what to wear and bring with you, as well as other tips to ensure your child makes the best first impression with a production team.
When it comes to knowing what to wear, the answer will be slightly different for everyone. It’s important that your child feels good and confident in what they’re wearing, and it’s essential that their clothing is comfortable to move around in. Clothing that is more restrictive can make it harder for them to act as they intend to. In addition to this, avoid wearing clothing with a lot of detailing, such as large graphic images, sequins, or busy patterns. This could affect how your child’s performance looks on camera and could be distracting to the production team.
If the audition is in person, a few items are essential to bring with you. The first is water and a snack; it’s vital that your young performer stays hydrated and has sufficient energy throughout the process. In addition, it’s recommended to bring headshots, in case these are asked for. Lastly, ensure that you bring the script so your child can read over their lines beforehand and a change of clothing in case of emergency.
Beyond this, setting a good first impression is crucial by getting to the audition location in good time. Being late could give the production team concerns that you’re unreliable and disorganised, putting them off taking your child’s audition any further. If you’re travelling a long distance, ensure you’re familiar with the route and have sufficient time for delays, such as heavy traffic.
Emotional Support and Encouragement
No matter the outcome of the audition, it’s essential that you, as a parent, are prepared to provide emotional support and reassurance to your child after the process is over. If they succeed, further praise and encouragement can boost their confidence and prepare them to step into their new acting role. However, it’s important that you make them aware of the process ahead and what will be expected of them going forward. Then, it’s your job to support them while they enter the spotlight during their first acting opportunity.
If the answer is not what you’d hoped for, it’s perhaps more vital that you provide sufficient emotional support. This is a moment of vulnerability for your child, and they will likely be upset about the negative result. Comfort them, and try to teach them to see the experience as a learning opportunity. Once they have come to terms with the unsuccessful outcome, talk with them about what they did well, what they could improve on for the next opportunity, and what they have learned from their first film audition experience. Conversations like this will not only build confidence; it will help them to tackle feelings of rejection for the rest of their life.
Expert Acting Coaching for Film and Theatre
As you can see, the preparation process for a film audition is lengthy and complex. However, each step, from learning the script to preparing items to bring with you, is crucial when giving your child their best chance of success.
While your role as a parent in supporting your child is vital, expert support and guidance is available for children interested in a career in the performing arts. Our team of talented acting coaches work with young stars of all ages and backgrounds to help them hone their acting skills and achieve their dreams, and we are happy to provide advice and support to parents, too.