Slating For an Audition: Learn How To Do It Right
Woohoo! We've implemented a much-demanded feature that our talents have been craving. Premium allcasting members can now upload a slate to their profile. But what's slating? Why is slating important? And how to do it well? We've got the answers right here.
There are 2 facts every professional actor knows:
Number 1: You have 5 seconds to make a good first impression.
Number 2: Casting directors do NOT have the time to watch every audition tape.
What does this mean for actors? Simple - you better make those first 5 seconds count, otherwise the casting director won't keep watching your tape. And here's the most important thing you need to understand - in a lot of cases, the first thing the casting director sees won't be your audition tape or your demo reel. It'll be your slate.
What's a slate?
It's an actor's business card. It's a short clip where you introduce yourself before you begin your audition tape, usually mentioning your name, your height, and where you're based (or whatever else the casting director specifies).
Look into the camera, have your head and shoulders in the frame, and confidently say: “Hi, I'm Wesley Hill, 5”9', Los Angeles”.
Here's a real example: Miley Cyrus auditioning for the role of Hannah Montanah.
The slate: “I'm Miley Cyrus, I'm with CED, and I'm auditioning for the role of Zoe and Hannah Montanah”.
Easy, right? Well, not quite.
Why is it important?
Think about it - does a casting director actually care about your name or where you're from? Some might, but most don't. After all, they should have that information already along with the tape you sent in.
Beyond being a formal standard, think of slating as your first test. It's the first 5 seconds during which you can make an impression. It's the only part of the audition where you are yourself. It's the most important part of the tape that answers the casting director's question - would I want to work with this person?
So how do I slate well?
Saying your name can't be that hard, can it? Well, it's harder than you think. There are a million ways to mess up, and just as many to do it right. The core principle to good slating is the Golden Middle rule - don't do too much, don't do too little.
One of the following two things is likely to happen if you do too much with an explosive and over-the-top slate:
1. The casting directors will see through the fact that it's not really who you are and think that you're someone who doesn't even know how to slate. Result = no callback.
2. Think that's what you're really like and assume you could be difficult to work with. Result = no callback.
If you do too little, i.e. show no enthusiasm, mumble, look tired & scared, then you're once again signaling the casting director that you're someone that will be difficult to work with. So what you're aiming for is a natural, confident, and friendly look.
Let's dive into specific tips.
Tip #1: What to say?
Say exactly what's asked of you. If you're slating live, the casting director will inform you of what they want to hear. It will be your name and then a combination of any of the following: age, height, location, agent (if you don't have one, you can just say “Freelance”), role you're auditioning for, and any other things that are important for the casting director.
For your allcasting profile slate, we suggest “Name, height, location”.
Why not age? Because, when possible, you should avoid mentioning your age in the casting process. Here's an example of why. Let's say you look very young and you're auditioning to play a high schooler, but you're actually 26. If you mention your age to the casting director, then they'll do a double-take and start searching for cues in your appearance that reveal your real age - which is something they wouldn't do, had you not mentioned your age. And if they find anything, they'll start wondering if you're too old. Needless to say, you don't want that. So, unless specified, don't mention your age in your slate, nor anywhere else during the casting process.
Sometimes a casting director might invite you to slate for the camera and not give any instructions. In that case, be proactive and clarify what information they need. Just ask them.
Tip #2: How to say it?
Ok, so now that you know what information to include, let's look at how to structure & deliver it. The most basic way would be to simply list it off:
“Hi, I'm Wesley Hill, I'm 5'9”, I'm based in Los Angeles”
Generally speaking, it's fine to do it like that. BUT, it can feel monotonous and childish. I'm this, I'm that, I'm this, I'm that… A lot of people will be slating in this manner, so switching up how you deliver the lines can help you stand out.
One way would be to just skip the “I'm”, like in the very first example of the article:
“Hi, I'm Wesley Hill, 5'9”, Los Angeles.
Or, for example, if the casting director asks you for “Name, age, agency” you can get creative:
“Hi, I'm 36 year old Wesley Hill and I'm with Agency X”.
There's no single right way to deliver your line, so find what works for you. The main thing is to be clear, so don't prepare anything too complicated unless you're 100% sure you can deliver it without tripping over your own words.
Extra tip: if you're bilingual and you feel that it's relevant to the audition, feel free to say “hi” in your other language. For instance, if I was auditioning for the role of a French exchange student, I'd definitely go for:
“Bonjour, I'm Wesley Hill, 5'9”, Los Angeles”
But beware! Only do this if you can speak the language at a native level and can pull off a genuine accent. Otherwise, the casting directors will see right through you and you might end up blowing your slate with the very first word.
Tip #3: How to present yourself?
Wear a single-color shirt, stand straight, hands in front or behind your back, don't move anything other than your head while talking, look straight into the camera.
While talking make sure you speak clearly and at a medium pace. Don't forget to smile and breathe naturally. Remember to vary your voice while delivering your lines to avoid a monotone delivery, but don't go overboard.
If you get the chance before slating - do 5 squats or read a funny joke that makes you laugh. It will get your blood flowing, flush your cheeks a little, fill you with energy, and add a sparkle in your eye.
Here's a related video that always gets us going. It's Steve Carell's Anchorman audition tape:
As always - these are just guidelines and a casting director might ask you to do something different. Make sure to follow the instructions. For instance, it's not uncommon for casting directors to ask you to turn left and then right, so they can see your face from every angle.
Different types of slating
The fantastic benefit of preparing a slate for your allcasting profile is that you can do as many takes as you like until you get it perfect. But that's not always the case. In most auditions in front of a camera, you'll be asked to slate on the spot.
You should know that there's a difference between commercial and theatrical slating. What we've discussed thus far is commercial slating. For theatrical slating there's one simple difference - you should only state your name and the role you're auditioning for.
Commercial: “Hi, I'm Wesley Hill, 5'9”, Los Angeles”
Theatrical: “Wesley Hill, auditing for the role of Romeo”
All other things remain unchanged.
Even after all of this, some of you might be thinking - “it's easy, I can do that” and not give slating a second thought. That's a bad move.
When you're on the spot, you can get your words mixed up, forget nuances, and deliver a sub-par introduction. The only way to get around this is practice. Practice until you can do it perfectly at any moment.
Film yourself, try different things, and discover how you can leap off the screen and show the best you to the casting director.
Wrapping it up
So here are the main things to keep in mind for a perfect slate:
- Do what the casting director asks you
- Speak clearly and effortlessly
- Make sure to stand straight and don't move too much
- Be confident and smile
How to add your slate to your allcasting profile
It's a very simple 5-step process:
- Make Sure you're logged into your allcasting profile
- Go to your profile (on mobile: Menu -> edit profile)
- Scroll down to the Slate section or select Slate in the side overview.
- Select Upload slate in you profile window
- Insert your slate's Youtube link and Save
That's it! Remember the slate is incredibly important so make sure you do it right and casting directors will love you!
Adding a slate to your profile is just one of the countless fantastic features available to our subscribers. If you haven't subscribed yet, now's the time to do it: