I’d like to let you in on a little secret…:
it does NOT matter when you turn your tape in, or whether you go first or last during an audition session.
It matters, of course, that you turn your tape in by the deadline or show up at your scheduled time, but it TRULY doesn’t matter where/when we see your performance in comparison to the others reading for that role.
The reason being: if you’re right for the role and you’ve clicked with it, (you know the feeling I mean,) then you will stand out, no matter what.
There is a big propensity (especially during pilot season) for actors to shy away from being in the first “wave” of auditions for a particular role. (Meaning they don’t want to come in on the first day or two, or even the first week sometimes.) I’m sure this is partly due to the fact that things change rapidly during pilot season and they’d rather wait until some kinks have been ironed out. However, I know MANY an actor who is just plain superstitious about reading first. They’ll read second, third or even last, but they will run and hide in the bathroom if they think we’re going to call their names first.
Additionally, actors are constantly asking me when they should turn in their self-tapes. My answer (always): by the deadline. We give you those deadlines for a reason (logistics on our side, time to prepare on yours…) so if you need to take the time we’ve given and turn your tape in a few minutes before the deadline, so be it! If you’re the kind of actor who likes to get ‘er done and turn it in 24 hours early so you can move on, then do! The complaint I usually hear about tapes is that 1. If an actor turns their tape in early, the CD will sometimes extend the deadline making the actor believe they could’ve/should’ve done something different or weren’t good enough, or 2. If they don’t turn their tape in early, they may lose the opportunity if Casting decides to send videos forward before the deadline.
There is no science to any of this timing. Partly because, like every other craft, casting is organic. The process is never the same because the role/circumstance/creatives/budget involved are always different. The only true constant is this question: “does this person fit the role in an interesting and truthful way?” And if you can remember that THAT is the key, not whether yours is the first tape we see or the last, you’ll shed a lot of audition anxiety.
Here are a few real examples from my own personal Casting history:
On a pilot, the first actress we read for the role, (literally… she was the first person to say the words out loud,) became the instant favorite and the producers worked very quickly to hire her.
On a series, we read a million women for a role and were struggling to find the “right” person. So we went back and re-watched everyone we had seen. We decided to try one woman again. She came back in, nearly three months after her first read, and ended up booking the role.
On a major feature film, we read a zillion people for a lead role and then decided to try an out-of-the-box idea. This actor’s tape was literally the LAST one to come in and he ended up booking it.
On a mini-series, we wanted to read a specific actor for a role. The EP knew this actor, really felt he wasn’t right and encouraged us to cancel the read. We said we’d like to see what he could do with it – he nailed it. Nailed it so hard that we hired him the next day and his performance quickly became one of our favorites in the whole project.
On MANY pilots, we have gone in to test a role at studio or network when a last minute tape arrived that blew us away and we’ve quickly added that actor to the mix. Sometimes that last-minute person got it, sometimes they didn’t…
All of this is to show you that it doesn’t matter at what point we see your audition (live or tape.) If you’re the one, you’re the one. Remember that the next time you’re stressing about the “perfect” time to upload your tape or the ideal time to walk in the room. Drop that anxiety and instead focus on the things that do matter for every role, every audition: your preparation, professionalism and craft.