What is the Rule on Miming or Using Props at Auditions?
By Diane Christiansen Coaching
The decision to mime or use a prop in an audition can be tricky. . .
You would be hard-pressed to find a casting director who is 100% for the use of props or miming at an audition.
Some casting directors can tolerate props and miming if they help the actor get into character and do not serve as a distraction from the actor and the scene. However, many casting directors generally find the use of props and miming to be a major ‘faux pas’ in the audition room. Casting directors who are against the use of props or miming are usually responding to their sense of feeling distracted by these choices.
Let’s break down the good and bad of both
Props in an audition room are often clumsy, time consuming, take away from the actor and their performance, and overall just plain unnecessary.
That is… with one, practically universal, exception: cell phones. If the scene calls for talking on the phone, then you are allowed (encouraged even) to use your cell as a prop. It’s small and convenient, most people already have it on them, and can do wonders for bringing an audition scene to life.
But, if an actor uses a prop weapon (for example) casting directors may personally feel unsafe and therefore distracted from viewing your acting work.
Which brings me to the next topic. . . .
“So I shouldn’t bring a fake gun into an audition…… should I just mime it instead??” Frankly: no.
Here is the number one rule for miming at any of your film/television auditions:
Only mime the actions or use of objects in a scene if it is absolutely necessary for the lines and plot line of the scene to make sense.
Let me say that again: ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.
Instead, play the emotions/feelings you would if you were in fact doing that action. If the character has just been running – play you are out of breath or tired. If the character is holding a gun as they walk through a dark house – don’t hold the gun, but play the fear/caution/awareness the character would have in that situation. On the other hand, if your sides say that your character does a little dance that can easily be done in place without going off your mark – GO FOR IT!
There are many examples I could give and MANY reasons why miming is distracting – but in reality, casting directors want auditions simplified. They want to see your ability to portray the character.
Keeping in mind the potential for props and miming to work against you by taking focus away from your work, it’s important to consider why you want to make these choices in the first place.
How will doing so, make the scene better? More importantly, how will it make your audition performance better?
What impression will your choice leave on the casting director? Will the casting director be distracted or drawn in?
Is it possible to achieve the desired effect without using a prop or mimic? Or can I simply act like the action is happening? This is what I and almost all casting directors encourage.
Remember, the point of any audition is to demonstrate your ability to fully embody your character’s intention, allowing your talent to brightly shine without distraction. A prop or physical action should never take the place of your own thorough preparation for the role.