Auditions themselves are nerve wracking and stressful, but even worse is waiting to hear back.
This wait feels painfully, tortuously long, and it’s only made worse by the fact that you never know just how long the process is going to take.
The major problem is that there isn’t an industry standard when it comes to times between auditions and casting.
A lot depends on the amount of people auditioning, and each casting director’s way of working. Unfortunately, they don’t always show awareness of how horrible the waiting period is.
Put simply, the soonest you’ll hear about a role is immediately after the interview. This is hugely unlikely to happen unless you really wow the casting team, and you’re the last to audition for the role.
The earliest you could reasonably hope to hear back is later the same day. Just to reiterate, this does not always happen, and you’d be unwise to assume that you’ll hear back within 24 hours. If you do, count yourself lucky.
For smaller projects and theater typical waiting times vary from 48 hours to a week. In these projects there are usually fewer people who need to say ‘yes’ on the casting, so the process is a lot quicker.
For larger projects in TV and film, you need to appreciate the fact that there are lots of layers to the production. You may have auditioned for a casting director but the production team, the film or television company, and the marketing teams all need a say.
What usually happens after you audition is that the tapes are sent out to all the relevant people, and they watch them through. Each person or team will put forward their favorites and then the battle begins. Advertisers will argue with casting directors, producers will go up against board members.
Eventually a decision will be made, but this can take weeks, even months. After all, it takes a lot of time and organization to get the tapes out, watched, and ranked by several people.
If you have auditioned for a large show, film, or commercial, don’t expect to hear back for at least a few weeks.
That being said, sometimes you never hear back. If hundreds, even thousands of people audition casting directors don’t always have time to call or email every person.
If you haven’t heard back after a few weeks or months, assume the role went to someone else and get yourself booked in for new projects. It’s always a good idea to check the status of the production on IMDB to check if casting has completed.
How Long Does the Casting Process Take?
This depends on a few things including the number of auditionees, the location of the production, and the kind of production.
For musical theater for instance, the process usually takes about 6 weeks. This includes the initial call for auditions, the resume cull, the auditions, the callbacks, and the final choice.
In the final stage, the casting director is usually joined by the director who ultimately gets the final say on who gets the part.
When it comes to films, the timings vary depending on which side of the Atlantic you find yourself on. For American and Hollywood films, the casting process usually takes about 3 months. For European films, on the other hand, usually drag out the casting process for about a year.
In that time, the casting director will whittle down the pool of hopefuls, tape those that make it through the initial screening, hold call backs, do screen tests, and check schedules.
With major films, the decision isn’t just down to the casting director or the film director and producers. The studio will have a significant say in the casting decision too.
A lot of major productions find themselves slaves to schedules, particularly when casting big names. Often, casting decisions are made based on who is available rather than who is right for the part.
TV shows typically have shorter casting windows. They usually complete the process in 4 – 6 weeks. This can take a bit longer if it’s a new show, and they’re looking for a whole cast.
If you haven’t heard back from your agent or the casting team within a few weeks, you might want to assume that the role has been cast. Unfortunately, you’re not always informed if you weren’t cast. This is incredibly frustrating, but it comes down to how little time casting directors have.
Casting is a tricky business that only gets more complicated when productions become bigger. With so many hopeful actors, a dozen people who need to agree on the choice, and the busy schedules of everyone involved, you just have to accept that it takes time.