This week an offer to audition in person out of state came up. The scene was short and the character spoke only three lines. On any given day I would likely tape the audition with the help of an actor friend, but it’s important to carefully assess the entire situation to make the best decision possible.
Some actors will argue driving out of state for a first audition is a waste of time. Save that trip for the callback, they will say. But I will show you how it’s not simple Yes or No answer.
PRO: Getting Invited to Audition
It’s our job as actors to audition so every invitation to do so is welcome, even if we end up turning it down because of a scheduling conflict, the level of pay, or any one of a thousand legitimate reasons. This is an essential step in the process and every audition makes us stronger at what we need to do to get the job.
CON: Taking 6+ Hours to Reach the Destination
An in-town audition might eat up an hour to get there, and an average out-of-town audition might consume a few hours one way. But this trip would mean investing 1/4 of a day to just get to the city where the audition was taking place. Consider the fuel costs alone to drive that far, including not one but two times filling your tank.
PRO: Letting Someone Else Drive
Turning to carpooling or relying on the bus can minimize the difficulty and the expense in this situation. In this case, using my chosen means of transportation, Megabus, would mean I cover the miles without having to pay attention to the road and other drivers and spend roughly $30 round trip.
CON: Making a Round-the-Clock Trip
In order for me to get to this audition and back, I would be devoting 24 continuous hours to traveling from Houston to New Orleans and back to Houston. That affects what I can and can’t do while in another city and on the bus. For example, I can’t get to an audition close to the home that same day.
PRO: Meeting a Casting Director for the First Time
This is really the most interesting variable in this whole situation. I could have put it first because it is really what influences my decision ultimately, but I wanted you to examine some other elements first. Every casting director you meet is someone who wants to see what you can do and wants to see you at your best. A chance to walk in that room and make a lasting impression is a huge part of being an actor so you want to seize every opportunity to do it.
PRO: Doubling Your Auditions
I know actors who travel a far distance to read for one role and have casting directors ask them to read for a second role for a different project. Once you’re in the room and in front of a casting director, anything is possible as you might be right for other projects they are currently casting.
PRO: Discovering More Resources
Look at your out-of-state trip as a time to find resources you may need in the future. The list includes places to print resumes and people who can tape auditions for you. Imagine booking a role in that destination city and getting to spend a week or a month there. Start anticipating your needs early and working on ways to fill them.
As for me, I read for the casting director in New Orleans for the first time and got asked to read for a second project. Both in TV. Both period pieces. Very different characters.
After these auditions, I stopped by the offices of two other casting directors who I have met before to find out if they had a list of local people who tape auditions. Then, I went to my agent’s office for a meeting and got some very helpful direction about the kinds of headshots I need to shoot next. I used my time wisely and made the trip the most productive one in my career so far.
As invitations for you to audition out of town and out of state come up, be sure to carefully look at your pros and cons and come up with the answer to “should I stay or should I go?” that best suits your short-term and long-term acting goals. It’s okay to want to stay close to home if that is what works best for you right now. But if you are interesting in expanding your reach, invest in yourself and consider what you’re setting in motion every time you’re on the road to something new.