4 Ways Casting Agents can nail their next Stunt Audition!
4 ways Casting Directors can nail their next stunt audition!
Casting directors, I know you know the feeling of dread when you have to cast a stunt role. As a stunt performer, I share the dread of going to an audition, in a tiny room with little to no pads or safety gear, where we are asked to demonstrate the unique skills that make us valuable. More often than not we’re told to “not do anything too big” and just talk about our skills.
How in the world would a casting agent trust us to deliver on the day of filming? Even more important, if I was the stunt coordinator, how would I trust the performer to be skilled and safe? I’ve worked with enough people who’s only skill was ‘talking their way in’ to know it’s not a great solution.
I recently rediscovered a water gun commercial I did 13 years ago and it reminded me: this audition was one of the best-run auditions I’d ever experienced. Here’s 4 reasons why, with the video of the ad spots at the end.
It was held at a proper venue.
Casting wanted people with acrobatic skills so they rented out a gymnastics gym to use. Every modern stunt person worth their salt is accustomed to a spring floor. There were also pads and boxes that could be arranged in configurations to ensure safety, which allowed us to give the best performance possible. This is the most important suggestion and integral to points 2 and 3.
2. They had a standard skill to evaluate.
We were all required to demonstrate a wall flip, where you would run up the wall and do a backflip. Making that part of the audition process was an instant standard to achieve, and they could weed out the non-acrobats. Because they had a proper venue (see #1) with safety gear it was easily achievable.
3. They allowed us the freedom to showcase our other relevant skills.
The next part of the audition was 15 seconds of whatever you wanted to do on the spring floor. Remember #1? The boxes and pads available allowed us to be creative with the environment. We were able to demonstrate abilities that weren’t previously considered, or that casting perhaps wouldn’t have even known to ask about.
4. Have a stunt coordinator present.
This is a bonus one, and though this particular commercial didn’t do it- I’d recommend it. Having the Stunt Coordinator present will create deeper communication. They’ll be more familiar with the skills needed, and can convey the auditioners that are talented vs the ones just winging it. Experienced stunt performers know that if you wing it during the audition you might get lucky, but during the shoot day, your luck might run out. Safety, time, and money are all at risk by not having a knowledgeable voice contributing during the casting process.
So the next time you work a casting call for Stunts, ask the following to get the absolute perfect match for the gig:
What venue can we use to audition?
Is there a standard skill to evaluate?
Can we let them showcase their unique skillset?
Is the Stunt Coordinator available to participate?
I hope this helps you and check out the commercial below. We had a blast making it.
T. Ryan Mooney is a world traveling Stunt Coordinator who’s love for water gun wars is unrelenting