Updated: Dec 5, 2018
Sarah Clark, CSA
When you get an audition, usually you’re given lots of information in a one email. Information is power when it comes to acting. The more you know about your character and the story, the more informed you can be when making decisions.
Scene headings, action, and page numbers
INT. Airplane - Early Morning (Scene Heading)
Sarah types feverishly. The generously proportioned woman next to her continues to try taking ownership of Sarah’s seat. (Action)
(Smiling without meaning it)
Excuse me, ma’am. Please stop pushing me.
I will backhand you and enjoy it.
Scene headings set up a scene’s location and time usually. We can tell from the above scene that we’re inside an airplane and it’s early (currently 6:23am to be exact.) What does this say about our character? It’s too early to be dealing with crazy people and we’ve added tension by being in a confined space.
The “Action” is usually listed right underneath the scene heading and will give the actor an idea of exactly what’s going on. If you don’t read this information, you usually look very silly in the audition room.
Page numbers indicate where you are in the story. As a general note, you can count one page as one minute in your project. If you’re on page 30, there should be a change in your character than when you were on page 5.
Read the crossed out stuff
Sometimes you’ll see previous scenes in your sides that the Casting Director has put an X over. This means the information crossed out won’t be a part of your audition. It will, however, give you a look at what else is going on in the story.
Sometimes you’ll get juicy information just reading other scenes. Every piece of information is important!
Ask if there are additional sides for other characters
Not all agents send out sides for all characters, but they usually have access to them. If you stumped on a side or can’t connect to your character, reach out to your agent to ask for additional sides. Reading these additional scenes may give you insight into relationships your character has, additional scenes that tie your character to the story, and more information about the plot.
I’m not saying you'll get that luxury every time nor am I suggesting you ask every audition. Keep in mind that if you’re really in a pickle, you have that option.
Hopefully these tips help you better your next audition!
Good luck out there!