Film and TV productions have mostly been put on pause by the pandemic — for good reason — but there is some good news for actors out there. That is, castings are still happening in the midst of everything, and with that in mind, we’ve decided to bring you a spin-off series of Weirdest Auditions to share actors’ anecdotes about auditioning during a pandemic. Casting Networks spoke with three actors who’ve been receiving self-tape requests during this time. Keep reading to hear their audition stories, as well as filming anecdotes, with one actor booking a project and filming himself for it, all from his home!
Known for Mom and Criminal Minds
Fortunately, I have spent the past year setting up a home studio that has served me well for self-taped auditions. However, I realize that they are the “new norm” in our current climate. Recently, I felt fortunate to be asked to audition for a music video, but I had no idea which artist it was for, so I just followed directions. When I was told that I booked it, there was a caveat: I had to shoot the footage myself! I didn’t hesitate and once again followed directions from the director, which included dancing wildly and shooting in my backyard. I was informed the music video would air on Songland, and when I tuned in, I discovered it was for Lady Antebellum. The song is called “Champagne Night,” and it turned out that I was one of only a few actors who were hired for the video. So there are no excuses if you are really serious about being an actor! If you want to be a viable actor in this self-tape world, now is the time to make the investment in headshots, online profiles, etc. You have to invest in equipment and education so you can compete. The last thing I’ll say about all of it is that it’s important to keep going. You never know when someone’s going to tap you on the shoulder and say, “Hey, we want you.”
Known for The Loud House and Fallout 76
I do a lot of VO work, which is a part of the industry that’s still going, even with the pandemic. But the current state of things has changed how I do VO auditions. Before this, I rarely did a recording at home because I had access to my agency’s booth. There were times I went in there four or five times a week just to get one audition down because there was always someone there to give me feedback and adjustments. So now that I have to record them from home, I’m learning to have confidence in my skills and to trust my instincts. My home setup is much more cramped than the booth I’m used to, though. I’ve received about 30 VO auditions since everything with COVID-19 really hit, and to do them, I have to sequester myself in my closet with my laptop and mic. I’m just kind of huddled down on the ground with a bunch of clothes and sheets everywhere to absorb sound. It’s not the most comfortable. I’ve also done a number of self-tapes during this time, which includes an on-camera audition as well as the recent open calls. I obviously don’t record those in my little closet, which is nice, but my cats like to try and make an appearance in them. Before the pandemic, I would usually go over to a friend’s place to film my self-tape auditions, so one of the effects of all this is that I’m learning how to keep my cats out of my videos.
Known for Vikings and South
The first audition I had since everything hit was a commercial one for an insurance company. For it, I was supposed to be playing a set of pan drums, which I don’t own. Fortunately, my housemate has a drum that he let me use, and I was able to film the audition myself because it didn’t require a reader. I have a shed in the back garden that has come in handy for recording auditions since my housemates and I are all staying at home right now. That’s where I filmed the next two auditions my agent sent me, as well. They were both for the same project: a big, upcoming TV series that’ll eventually be shooting in Ireland, England, and another location in Europe. I was to read for one character the first day and for another character the following day, so I was under pressure to learn all the lines and get everything filmed quickly. I asked my actor friend to be my reader for the scenes via a phone call. But when we tried it, the sound quality was just off. Luckily, there had been a new person who moved into my place before all this happened, and I asked if she could try doing it. She wasn’t an actor but ended up doing the most brilliant job of it. So I learned that it can work out when you have someone that can just read the lines without feeling the pressure of having to hold the character or tell the story. I felt really good about the auditions she helped me with, and they wouldn’t have happened the same way if it hadn’t been for everything going on right now.
Canetty’s story shows us that productions can still happen even in times like these. The CBS drama All Rise supports this fact with its recent episode that was virtually produced in order to comply with the rules of social distancing. Chase’s impressive number of VO auditions reminds us that there is still an abundance of voice work happening at the moment. And since Buckley is an actor based in the UK, his self-tape stories remind us that castings are still happening internationally, as well. These actors’ recent experiences with auditioning can encourage others that opportunities continue to arise, even in the midst of a pandemic. Share your own COVID-19 audition stories in the comments below!
These interviews have been edited and condensed.