Once the deadline for application submissions has passed and you’ve narrowed down your choices to only the actors who seem right for the roles, the next step is the actual casting.
First, you need to make sure that actors get their audition script, or side, in a timely fashion. SAG requires that they receive it 24 hours in advance, but a considerate director will give their actors the sides at least a week in advance. This gives them ample time to prepare and is respectful. Don’t send them the sides in your screenwriting software’s format. Everyone can open a PDF, so that’s the best option. Alternatively, you can put the information on your website or include it in the body of an email. Remind actors to bring their resume and headshot to the audition.
Next, get your schedules in order. Have your master list of names and audition times ready and distribute it to everyone in your team. This list will be used to check people in so that no unsolicited actors find their way to the audition (this will happen, so have a good gatekeeper checking actors in and turning away those who aren’t on the list—remember to keep your audition location a secret).
Also make sure you have your SAG sign-in sheet ready. If your auditions run late, you may be required to pay a fine to SAG. Scheduling each actor 10 minutes is the average amount of time it will take and a reasonable estimate. They’ll need ample time to do both a monologue and read from your script, if that may be the case. They’ll also need some time to take additional direction from you, if needed. Don’t forget to schedule in time for breaks. You’ll need one for lunch, and a short break every two hours or so to rest for a minute or catch up if you get backlogged.
In the audition space, remember that you have a tidy and professional reception area. Acquire plenty of pens, paper, and a spare stapler in case actors need it for their resumes and headshot. You’ll need tables for the sign-in sheets and chairs for waiting actors to sit in. Know in advance where the bathrooms are so that actors can be easily directed to them. Remember, this is the first area actors will see and it should give them a good impression of the experience that is to come.
In addition to the sign in sheets, it may also be a good idea to have an information form for actors to fill in. This would include information about how to contact them, who their agents/managers are, and possible scheduling conflict they have with your shoot dates. It’s valuable to know that last piece of information in advance, because it may affect your casting decisions.